Saudi Arabia’s booming export economy and record budget surpluses have provided a golden opportunity to reinvest these profits in the country’s future. The education sector has thus been designated a chief priority. More than half of the Kingdom’s population is under the age of 25, with close to 30% under 15. These numbers make providing a strong education system an even higher priority. As of 2012, unemployment hovered around 10% among Saudi nationals, whereas among expatriates it was just 2%. While demand-side measures may help in the short run, increasing the employment of Saudis in the long term will depend on aligning education with the needs of the job market. Increasing cooperation from the private sector in terms of expanded training programmes and collaborative research and development projects should also assist efforts to create more jobs outside of the oil and gas industry.
This chapter includes interviews with Khalid Al Sultan, Rector, King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM); and Khaled Al Sabti, Vice-Minister of Education and Chairman, Tatweer Education Holding.