Dr. Hanaa Almoaibed shares her perspectives on vocational education and future opportunities in the Arab Gulf states, focusing on cultural warmth and the current geopolitical climate.

SINGAPORE, 28 June 2024 – In an interview with Sun Media Singapore Editor-in-Chief, Ms. Nomita Dhar, Dr. Hanaa Almoaibed, a Visiting Fellow at the LSE Middle East Centre, shared her perspectives on education and vocational training in the Arab Gulf states. She emphasized the warm and welcoming nature of the people and addressed the current geopolitical climate.

Dr. Almoaibed, who has published a chapter on vocational education, was invited to present her findings at a conference. She highlighted the significance of imparting practical skills to the youth, enabling them to thrive in their respective fields. Her work sheds light on the evolving educational landscape in the Gulf, which is increasingly integrating vocational training with traditional academic education.

Reflecting on the broader geopolitical environment, Dr. Almoaibed expressed concerns about the future her children will inherit. With two boys aged 11 and 14, she acknowledged the challenges posed by current global instability. However, she remained optimistic, believing that the younger generation is equipped with the necessary resources, knowledge, and technology to address these challenges. She stressed the importance of utilizing these tools for positive change and building on the foundations laid by previous generations.

Dr. Almoaibed highlighted the significant changes in Saudi Arabia over the past few years. From being a restricted and quiet place, it has transformed into a hub of entertainment, luxury services, and cultural activities. She dispelled common misconceptions about the negative aspects of life in Saudi Arabia, arguing that, like any other culture, it has its challenges but also numerous positive attributes.

She shared a personal anecdote about her last visit to Singapore, which was a decade ago when her son was just a baby. This nostalgic reflection bridged into a discussion about the dual challenges and rewards of being a mother and a professional. She emphasized that both roles are demanding yet fulfilling, highlighting the dynamic nature of balancing personal and professional responsibilities.

The conversation also delved into the aspirations of young Saudis. Dr. Almoaibed noted that while the opportunities were limited before 2016, the current generation is more optimistic about their future despite some apprehensions. This optimism is fueled by the ambitious goals set by the kingdom’s leadership, who are aiming to achieve remarkable progress.

Saudi Ambassador H.E. Abdullah AlMadhi and (far right) spouse, Mrs. Sarah Nasser A. Alobaykan welcome guests at the Saudi Embassy (from his left) Dr Hanaa Almoaibed (Visiting Fellow, LSE Middle East Center) and Ms Nomita Dhar (IN Diplomacy Magazine)

She commended the various green initiatives in Saudi Arabia, such as the Saudi Green Initiative, aimed at making the kingdom more sustainable. She emphasized the importance of integrating with nature and the significant efforts being made to transition towards renewable energy.

The interview also touched upon her impressions of Singapore, praising its cleanliness, safety, and green spaces. Dr. Almoaibed highlighted the importance of vocational training in supporting industries like arts, culture, and tourism, stressing the need for technically skilled individuals in these sectors.

Dr. Almoaibed is also working on another paper examining how new industries under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 are creating opportunities and reducing stigma around certain vocational pathways. This involves extensive interaction with youth in training camps and professionals running these institutes, ensuring that the next generation is well-prepared for the future.

Overall, the discussion provided valuable insights into the evolving educational landscape, the optimistic yet cautious outlook of the youth, and the significant strides being made toward sustainability in the Arab Gulf states. Dr. Almoaibed’s work continues to play a vital role in shaping the future of education and vocational training in the region.

Source: IN Diplomacy Reporters