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2, the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who lived in Virginia and was a columnist for The Washington Post, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. lifer, having joined the faculty in 1979 when he was in his mid-20s; he is now 65.American intelligence agencies held the Saudi state responsible and concluded that the crown prince himself most likely authorized the action. announced that it was reassessing its extensive links to the kingdom. His mission was to explore whether a source of money could be so unsavory as to warrant rejecting or returning the funds — hardly an easy task. In December, Lester outlined his preliminary findings in a letter to Reif, which was also shared with faculty members and students. spent about .6 billion on its operations last year, and its endowment, .5 billion, is the sixth-largest among American universities (and greater than the gross domestic product of nearly 70 countries, including Mongolia, Nicaragua and the Republic of Congo).(A United Nations report released in June reached a similar conclusion.)Later in October, M. Richard Lester, an associate provost who oversees the school’s partnerships with foreign entities, was put in charge of that review. Once an institution goes down that road, what other donors might some on campus find objectionable? Lester had to acknowledge an uncomfortable fact: “One of those individuals now known to have played a leading role in Mr. campus,” he wrote, referring to Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a Saudi intelligence officer. community at that time — an unwelcome and unsettling intrusion into our space, even though evident only in retrospect.”Endeavor returned a 0 million investment from Saudi Arabia this year, but many other American corporations stayed in business with the kingdom. The money it receives from Saudi sources is relatively modest, less than million in many years, though the school has received individual gifts from Saudi billionaires of as much as million. Recent deals involve the research and development of methods to extract oil more efficiently and cleanly, as well as “computational modeling, artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnologies,” according to a university statement. has been alone in publicly grappling with what to do about its Saudi associations, which has won the university some grudging respect, even from its critics.
At the same time, the Saudi education ministry released statistics showing that women constitute almost 52 percent of university graduates inside the kingdom, while more than 35,000 female Saudis studied abroad in 2014.
More than half choose to study in the United States, with the halls of campuses such as Washington, D.
Her relatives in Yemen were now living through a civil war, one that had caused tens of thousands of civilian casualties and was threatening millions with famine — and yet had barely registered in the American news cycle at that point. When a movie theater opened in Riyadh that spring, it ended a 35-year ban on cinemas.
The American universities doing business with the Saudis — largely in the form of sponsored research, paid for with money from Saudi Aramco, the giant oil company, and other state-owned industries — saw no reason to stop, and the lonely voices who argued against those ties were easily ignored. (“Black Panther” was the first showing; a late scene, a kiss between two of the stars, was cut by censors.) Six months after the prince’s triumphal American trip, on Oct.
“They all have those Latin sayings, stating some higher purpose,” says Grif Peterson, a former fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. The kingdom’s conduct has been extreme enough to inspire a rare instance of bipartisanship in Washington — a Senate vote in June to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its partner in the Yemen conflict. “If this was an African warlord from a poor country, would we even be having this conversation? ”Richard Lester’s office looks onto the tree-lined courtyard where M. One Saudi student in the United States whom I asked to interview said he would participate only if I shielded his identity.
(The measure is unlikely to survive the expected presidential veto.) When I visited Shireen al-Adeimi at Michigan State, eight months after she spoke on the sidewalk in Cambridge, she was clear about what she thought M. “Thanks for reaching out, please DO NOT use my name, affiliation or any descriptive information in any published work,” he wrote me in an email. want to sully its national and international reputation for chump change?
“Here was this young guy who was sort of hip and fit in with the Silicon Valley and Hollywood crowd, and they were easily manipulated,” says Robert Jordan, an ambassador to Saudi Arabia under President George W. “It was money speaking, and the temptation to hook up with a massively funded kingdom.”On the sidewalk that day in Cambridge, one of the featured speakers was Shireen al-Adeimi, who is 35. She had never been politically active before — “If I ever had something to say in public, I thought it would be about education,” she says — but had started speaking out against Saudi conduct in Yemen by posting on social media and by writing to American politicians. The Saudis signed three contracts that day, for a total of million, two of them to extend existing research projects with M. At the time of Prince Mohammed’s visit, Saudi Arabia seemed to be liberalizing, at least a little.
She was born in Yemen and spent part of her childhood there. At the demonstration, she wore a gray blazer and a peach head scarf and spoke in a soft but steady voice into a hand-held microphone. Women had been granted permission to drive, finally, a reform that gained a great deal of media attention.
“Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave” and “Seek learning even if it is as far away as China” are among the Prophet’s oft-quoted sayings.
Yet despite its firm religious foundations, educating women in Saudi Arabia is a relatively new phenomenon.