Katz attends international exhibition & conference in Riyadh
Michael Katz, director of international programs for the College of Pharmacy, attended the International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 17-20. He was part of a five-member delegation from the University of Arizona. It was the third year the university has attended the event.
“This is the largest higher ed expo in the world,” says Katz. “We were one of nearly 500 universities from around the world who set up booths in a huge exhibition hall. The purpose of the event is for the universities to try to attract Saudi students. Over the course of four days, 300,000 people attended the exposition. The Saudi government funds students who get selected. There are more than 60,000 Saudi students in the U.S. already.”
Other members of the UA delegation were Suzanne Panferov, director of the Center for English as a Second Language; Marie Willard, program director of sponsored programs, International Student Services; Joanne Lagasse-Long, director of international student programs and services; and Weston Brown, specialist in international recruitment.
This was the first time Katz had attended the exhibition. He was invited to accompany the UA delegation because last year the group got many questions from prospective students about pharmacy and other health science professions.
“It was an interesting experience on many levels, including cultural,” says Katz. “The female members of our party were required to keep their heads covered in public. The religious police came by several times and admonished the women for letting some of their hair show.”
According to Katz, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries are interested in improving healthcare education for a number of reasons. They have exploding populations and are becoming “Westernized” so quickly that they are developing Western diseases such as diabetes. Because they provide much of the world’s oil, they have money to invest.
“Many of the Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, are interested in advancing pharmacy education to be more like the American model and are willing to invest money – to their credit and to the benefit of their people,” says Katz.
The College of Pharmacy already has an agreement with King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to train pharmacists.