Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
January 21, 2022

Exploring Saudi Arabia through scholarship

By CARTER BANKER | October 19, 2011

This week I would like to talk about sophomore Bayly Winder's experience traveling to Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, Israel and the Palestinian territories with the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Project and Professor Steven David.

Bayly was selected along with from other students from Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania to participate in this all-expenses paid program whose goals are to allow qualified students to gain experience in facilitating communication sin the Midddle East.

The goal is to overcome prejudice stemming from various sources and to inspire dialogue between differing parties. Finally, the program hopes to create a greater understanding for the participants through such interactions.

The two week-long trip began on June 1st with an orientation in DC, where Bayly and his group met with prominent Muslim and Jewish American leaders and Jonathan Finer, the Senior Adviser for Middle Eastern Affairs in the Office of the Vice President.

They also visited the embassies of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel, where they met with diplomats and learned about current developments in each of the three nations that they would soon be visiting.

The next stop on the program's itinerary was Saudi Arabia, a country closed off to Westerners under most circumstances. According to Bayly, The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education paid for the group to stay in the fanciest hotel in Riyadh (the capital)! While in Riyadh, the group toured the men and women's campuses of King Saud University and Al-Yamamah University.

They also visited the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue and the offices of the Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

Back at the hotel, they were able to speak with Saudi students in a less formal setting, which Bayly says was a great opportunity to discuss life in the Kingdom and their views on America.

Then the Ministry of Education flew them to the Red Sea City of Jeddah, and the two Muslim students in the group went to Mecca to perform the holy pilgrimage.

Next, the group visited the United Arab Emirates, where they went to Dubai Media City and discussed the economic opportunities in Dubai with some senior executives, and visited the world's tallest building and the world's largest mall. They also saw an ATM that dispenses gold bars!

From the UAE, Bayly and his group made their way to Israel. In Jerusalem, they visited Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust, and had a panel discussion at the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel where they discussed the peace process with both Israelis and Palestinians, and of course, they visited the famous Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall.

In Bethlehem, the students saw for their very own eyes the separation barrier dividing Palestinian territory from Israel — the symbol of the ongoing conflict. They also toured the Church of the Nativity and met with a Palestinian NGO, where they learned about the difficulties that Palestinians experience when trying to travel in and out of Israel.

In Gush Etzion they toured Israeli settlements and heard the views of the more conservative Israelis. In Tel Aviv they visited the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, where they met with Dr. Dalia Fadila who talked to the group about issues of education for Palestinians living within Israel.

So why should you apply for this program? If you are interested in the Middle East, this program is the perfect way for you to experience the region first hand — for free!  

It is very difficult within the US to get a clear picture of the true nature of the events in this controversial part of the world, and the Ibrahim project offers you the opportunity to make judgments for yourself based on your experience and your interactions with the people who are most knowledgeable on the subject and most directly involved in Middle Eastern affairs.

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