This February, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman embarked on what was dubbed his Asia Tour, visiting some of the region’s key players in a bid to strengthen relations with these countries, announce new investments, and secure a number of trade deals. While in China, Saudi Arabia's biggest trading partner (bilateral trade last year reportedly worth $42.36 billion), the Crown Prince concluded his stay with 12 agreements on cooperation in various fields. On the heels of his visit, Saudi Arabia has now announced plans to add Standard Mandarin to the country’s school and university curriculums as early as next year.
The agreement was made during a meeting in Beijing between Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and a high-level Chinese delegation in the capital Beijing, as reported by Arab News. According to Saudi Press Agency, the decision to teach the Chinese language (Standard Mandarin) in Saudi Arabia, which has been hailed by Minster of Education Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sheikh and several other top officials, aims to strengthen relations between China and the Kingdom, enhance cultural diversity, and open up “new academic horizons for the students.”
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing
“The measure stems from the belief in the importance of strengthening cooperation and communication in all fields and enabling a comprehensive strategic partnership, to achieve the aspirations of the Saudi and Chinese leaderships and to seize the promising opportunities between their peoples,” the statement said. “It is also an important step towards new academic horizons for students in the various educational stages in the country, as learning Chinese is considered a bridge between the peoples of the two countries that will contribute to promote trade and cultural ties.”
According to online portal, Xinhuanet, the Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Li Huaxin, spoke of the fast development of Chinese-Saudi relations, explaining that China sees Saudi as a significant partner in the Middle East and Africa, and is proud to have its language included in the Saudi educational curriculum. In addition, Li pointed out that, today, Arabic is taught in more than 60 universities in China through specialized Arabic language departments.