The University of Arizona (UA) Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alumni wish to thank HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, Minister of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage for graciously attending and being one of the major sponsors of the 7th Annual UA GCC Alumni Reunion event.
The 7th Annual UA GCC reunion was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 26 – 28 January 2017. Hosting of the reunion alternates between the six GCC countries, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates, in recognition of the GCC Alumni’s tireless support for their Alma Mater.
The main goal of the annual reunion is to reconnect with former colleagues and friends to boost camaraderie with GCC graduates in the region and maintain the relationship with the University of Arizona. Another its aims is to foster connections with graduates who are successful in their own field of expertize, in order to serve society and act as a bridge between the GCC and the University of Arizona and American society, pressing the reset button for collaboration between the GCC and USA, for the betterment of their societies, which is crucial in these critical times. The reunion also aims to promote an exchange of cultural and business ties, and transfer and share knowledge between senior alumni and new graduates.
Hosting this year’s reunion were the Riyadh Organizing Committee members, namely:
- Dr Abdulaziz Al Jawini
- Dr Ali Musalam
- Dr Nasser Ahmad
- Dr Salman Al Sudairy
- Dr Turki Al Rasheed
With the able support of Abdulrahim Moslaat, Majid Musalam and Saud Al Shammari. The reunion was sponsored by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage headed by HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, Arriyadh Development Authority, Bateel, Talala Saudia, Exhibition Business and Almarai. The participation of the GCC alumni and the Faculty and Staff of the University of Arizona contributed to the success of the reunion.
The reunion was full of exciting activities tailor-made for the participants, including on day one a visit to Twaiq Palace sponsored by Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), which is responsible for implementing the High Commission’s policies for the development of Arriyadh’s organizational, planning, executive and coordinating decisions and missions, and overseeing the development of the world-class Riyadh Metro rail project including onsite visits. This was followed by a visit to historic Diriyah, which is an outstanding national symbol in the history of Saudi Arabia, and the National Museum of Riyadh, which is the most famous museum in the KSA and is located in the King Abdul-Aziz Historical Center, which was established to be a center for culture and civilization highlighting the prominent history of the Arabian Peninsula and its historical message of disseminating Islam.
On day two, the group visited Almarai, one of the largest producers of dairy and bakery products. Visits were made to the L’usine Bakery plant and Dairy Processing plant.
One of the highlights of the day was the Gala Dinner hosted by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage Minister, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, who delivered an empowering, informative and heartfelt speech about the Saudis being the warmest and most hospitable people. He highlighted the success of Saudi tourism, which will transform the country into one of the biggest tourist hubs in the coming years, which is aligned to the Saudi National Transformation 2020 and Saudi Vision 2030.
Additionally, the Gala speakers included Dr Ali Musalam, CEO, My Identity Solutions Company, who opened the program as its host and introduced the speakers.
The first speaker was Dr Turki Faisal Al Rasheed, President of the UA GCC supreme organizing committee and Adjunct Professor at the University of Arizona. Dr Rasheed spoke about the goals of the supreme organizing committee: first-time participation by women alumni, creating a non-profit organization under the banner of UA GCC, stated that he believes that agriculture is one of the best tools to enhance security, alleviate poverty and promote economic growth, and lastly highlighted how utilizing GCC alumni can diversify expertize in the private and government sectors.
Dr Salman Al Sudairy, one of the owners of the Bateel company, producer of high-quality dates, talked about the importance of the UA GCC annual reunion and, on behalf of all the alumni, conveyed his deep appreciation for all the participants. Moreover, he gave thanks to the sponsors and all the people behind the successful 7th annual reunion, with a special mention for Prince Abdullah bin Turki, Saudi Ambassador to the US, who facilitated the visas of the university delegation.
Andrew Comrie, Provost, the University of Arizona, as head of the delegation, talked about the cooperation between UA and GCC alumni, including their accomplishments, and opined about the ongoing future collaboration between the UA and GCC countries that could be facilitated by the alumni.
Day three’s visit was equally exciting as the alumni and UA delegation visited Al Ghat, which is a small town in Riyadh Province 230 km northwest of Riyadh that showcases archaeological, epigraphic and historic scenery. The activities included a visit to the Alrahmania Cultural Center hosted by Dr Ziad Al Sudairy, followed by a visit to Al Ghat old town and the interesting Al Ghat Museum. At the end of the day, the attendees were entertained with the Saudi way of life, seated in Bedouin tents, sipping Saudi coffee and tea while listening to and watching the traditional Saudi folklore, Ardah.
The alumni conveyed their appreciation to the Riyadh organizing committee for a job well done. One alumnus stated that the three-day trip to Riyadh had offered a rare opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia with all its amazing tourist attractions and activities, and the trip and experiences would linger in his memory for decades.
At the end of the three days, the GCC organizing committee announced that the 8th Annual UA GCC Alumni Reunion would be hosted by Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.