Ignorance of foreign laws, customs lead to trouble for Saudi scholarship students

Saudi students are seen at a gathering in the United States in this file photo.

Saudi students are seen at a gathering in the United States in this file photo.

Although US statistics clearly show that Saudis are a very small group of those involved in criminal practices, the students still face problems due to misunderstandings and a lack of accurate information.

A survey conducted by a local publication highlighted the viewpoints of a number of Saudi scholarship students on the reasons why some of them get involved in difficult situations. The survey found that ignorance of the regulations was the main reason for most of the problems.

Saad Al-Shuhaimi, head of the Saudi Students Club at Park University in Missouri, said: “The new students are ignorant of US laws; they do not know their rights and obligations. Other reasons for their problems include cultural and religious differences which lead them into controversial arguments in the belief that they are better than others.

Some frequent disreputable sites where crime rates are high; and brag about their money and the medical insurance they enjoy and other benefits which they receive as scholarship students. This brings the envy and jealously on the part of other students and can also lead to theft, blackmail or even murder.”

He said the remedy for the problem was in having awareness courses for them before they leave the Kingdom. The students should be warned of the dangers and made aware of them.

Thabit Al-Hakmi, another scholarship student, said students were not aware of the dangers involved in keeping bad company.

“New students in general form their ideas and thoughts according to what is transmitted by those around them. Some other foreign students may have criminal intent in dealing with our students so they must be helped to understand these dangers as well,” he said.

He suggested holding courses on how to approach and deal with other students from different cultures and organizing a supervisory and consultative program during the scholarship program to ensure continuous communication with the students.

Yahya Hazazi of the Saudi Students Club at Emory University said mingling with American students without really knowing them or their past is one reason for trouble. “Some Saudi students behave badly with the Americans and boast of having money and property.

Saudi students must remember they are in the US to study only, nothing else,” he added.

Shalaan Al-Qur’ani, a Ph.D. student in Kansas, said Saudi students lack knowledge of the US legal system and how it affects them. The Saudi cultural attache must educate students in these matters in an on-going way every semester in order to prevent students from getting into trouble.

Mohammad Juraibi, who is studying at Washburn University, said the absence of the family and the lack of supervision are major reasons for students getting into trouble. He suggested enrolling the new students in training courses to educate them on the laws and regulations of the country where they are studying.

Hassan Salem said the Saudi cultural attache and Saudi students clubs are partly to blame for these problems. “They do not send supervisors to visit the students on a regular basis in order to see how they behave and follow up on their work and problems,” he said. “They should hold courses to familiarize new students with the laws and the different types of possible crimes they may get involved in without their knowledge.”


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