Abdul Salam Al Abdullah is the topic of much online discussion across Saudi Arabia, following his decision to go back to school and graduate, and to then pursue a university degree in journalism. This former Aramco employee who retired in 2013 has enrolled in ninth grade at a local school, deciding that it is never too late to achieve his lifelong dream.
In a recent TV interview, the long-bearded father of eight and a grandfather explained that, following assessment tests, he was placed in the same level as one of his daughters.
“It is a good chance as my daughter and I study together,” he said as he was interviewed by Al Ain TV, a Saudi education ministry channel. “Her older siblings and even her brother currently studying in the US often offer to help, but I turn down their proposals and I insist that I study with my daughter who is in the same academic level as me and therefore there is a strong rapport. I always seek her assistance whenever something is a bit difficult or too obscure to understand.”
When the show's presenter asked Al Abdullah if he is embarrassed that he now studies in the same class as his young daughter, he responded saying that there was no shame at all in widening horizons and expanding education.
“It's wrong to hold on to such a rhetoric. My children are my support system and they've constantly cheered me on.”
Al Abdullah has received a lot of support from Twittersphere, with some wishing him the best of luck on his journey, and others expressing amazement at his pride when talking about his daughters.
Al Abdullah isn’t the only one to have made headlines in the region for going back to school in his 60s to pursue a high school degree. In Lebanon in 2015, 63-year-old Abdallah Taleb also went back to school to catch up on his education, becoming a topic of national debate after a TV presenter ridiculed his decision. Taleb left Lebanon in 1967 before finishing his high school education, to work with his brother before moving to Saudi Arabia later on.