Professor Sulaiman Bin Abdullah Aba Al-Khail, Rector of Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, informed Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin Tago that 19 Filipino scholars have been admitted in the university for the next academic year.
Ambassador Tago met with University Rector Prof. Aba Al-Khail last week at the Rector’s Office in Riyadh to discuss matters of interest to both countries,especially in the field of education.
The Rector briefed the Ambassador on the educational programs of the university that has more than 70,000 students. The current academic year has 33 Filipinos studying on scholarship, 24 of whom are pursuing their bachelor’s degree and nine are studying the Arabic language in the university’s language institute for non-Arabic speakers.
Prof. Sulaiman, describing the Filipino students as studious, said that he wants more Muslim Filipinos to join the university in the upcoming years.
Ambassador Tago said that many Filipinos particularly Muslims in the Southern Philippines are interested in studying Arabic and Islamic studies. The students are grateful for the scholarships granted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Filipinos to study in the Kingdom.
Citing the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement which is supported by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Tago expressed hope that the university could extend assistance to Philippine universities and education agencies in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with educational exchanges and programs.
The university is home to the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Center for Contemporary Islamic Studies and Dialogue of Civilizations.
Ambassador Tago cited the University for this pioneer center, which is an excellent way to implement the Custodian’s vision of dialogue of civilizations.
Ambassador Tago stressed that the Philippines supports the King’s initiative for dialogue of civilizations, recalling that the Philippines also has taken a lead role in promoting interfaith and inter-civilization dialogue on the national, regional and international levels.
The Philippines and Saudi Arabia have also worked together in the UN and Non-Aligned Movement to promote interfaith dialogue, with Saudi Arabia sending a high-level official to the NAM Special Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development which was chaired by the Philippines in Manila in March 2010.
Prof. Sulaiman also invited the diplomatic staff of the embassy to study Arabic in the University’s Arabic institute for non-speakers. — SG