On March 12, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia’s Cultural Office hosted a job fair in Tokyo in conjunction with this year’s graduation ceremony for Saudi Arabian students studying in Japan supported by the country’s scholarship program.

The King Abdullah Scholarship Program was launched in 2005 aimed at developing human resources to address the country’s major challenges, including a fast-growing population and the departure from an oil-dependent economy.

The program is responsible for all the school expenses and living costs, including a maximum two-year preparation period to follow up language and science-related subjects. Some 150,000 Saudi students have studied abroad so far.

In Japan, Saudi students are increasing every year since the first 170 students supported by the scholarship arrived in 2007, reaching 511 in 2013. This is the first job fair for Saudi students held in Asia.

“Many Japanese companies are participating in the fair, which is very different from the previous examples in the U.S., Canada and U.K., where only Saudi Arabian companies and institutions attended,” said Essam Bukhary, cultural attache of the embassy’s cultural office. “We hope that it will serve as a model for other countries.”

According to Bukhary, the cultural office has made efforts in involving more Japanese companies and promoting the employment of Saudi Arabian students by encouraging the companies to provide the students with internship opportunities.

During the job fair, about 190 students, including 75 new graduates, exchanged information face to face with representatives from 30 participating companies, including Toyota Motor Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and Idemitsu Kosan Co.

One of the students, who came to Japan in 2007 and graduated this March, said, “I want to experience working for a Japanese company first, especially in the global market. In the future, I would like to make use of my knowledge and skills in my country.”

According to Bukhary, Saudi Arabia is strengthening relationships with Asian countries, including Japan.

“We would like to develop our relations from trade partners to more strategic partnership, in which we invest together, innovate together and develop human resources together,” Bukhary explained, adding, “It is the first step for that to increase and promote Saudi Arabian students in Japan, who will serve as bridges between the two countries in the future.”

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