The map of Saudi Arabia.
The map of Saudi Arabia.

Many people believe that the only way to learn more about a country is to travel there. However, traveling to a different country can be a rather expensive expenditure in today’s economy. Additionally, it is difficult to learn more about a country during a vacation, because you might not know where to visit. Hosting a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) student from another country is an enriching experience, because you receive the opportunity to learn more about a different country, its history, culture, and religion.

Hosting a YES student gives you the first-hand experience to see inside a country from an exchange student’s eyes. Currently, IRIS needs to confirm a host family for Faisal, YES student from Saudi Arabia, who is eager to learn more about the American way of life and also teach his host family about his country.

Saudi Arabia is a beautiful country, which houses incredible desert landscapes. Even more incredible is Saudi Arabia’s strong respect for their culture and traditions. Saudi Arabian traditions hold tremendous respect for everyone’s privacy. You can never take a photograph of a woman, and you may only take a picture of a man with his permission.

A bird's eye view of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
A bird’s eye view of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Not only does Saudi Arabia have rich traditions, the country also upholds a profound religious history. Saudi Arabia houses two Muslim holy cities: Mecca and Medina, both of which forbid non-Muslims from entering these holy grounds. However, there is one religious site that welcomes everyone from any religion: the tomb of Eve. Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia is believed to house the burial place of the biblical Eve. The tomb is located just outside the city walls, where pilgrims from Mecca and Medina could first the grave site.

Unlike other countries, the week starts on Saturdays and ends on Wednesdays in Saudi Arabia. Even more unique is that Thursdays and Fridays are the country’s official weekends. If you were thinking about traveling to Saudi Arabia, not only would you land in a different time zone, you might also land in a different week entirely.

Some Arabian oryx in the wild.
Some Arabian oryx in the wild.

At one time, the majestic Arabian oryx was listed as extinct in the wild. After the antelope was re-introduced into the wild terrain of Saudi Arabia, the animal was re-classified as vulnerable. Remarkably, this makes the Arabian oryx one of very few animals in the world whose population has increased after nearly become extinct.

Although it is common knowledge that Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of crude oil, you might not know that Saudi Arabia also has a very prominent fishing industry. Saudi Arabia operates several industrial shrimp fleets in the Arabian Gulf coast. Aquaculture accounts for seventeen percent of Saudi Arabia’s total fish production.

This article describes only a few interesting facts about Saudi Arabia. There are some many more enthralling facts about this country, its history and its culture. Although a quick Google search will enlighten you more about Saudi Arabia, learning more about a different country from a YES student is an enhancing experience for both the host family and the student.

From now until July 15, IRIS needs to confirm host families for the 2013-2014 YES academic year. Hosting a YES exchange student is a great opportunity for your family to learn about a different culture, country, and religion. If you would like to learn more about hosting an exchange student, please contact us and learn how you can become part of the IRIS family!

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