US student promotes website for king Abdullah

king-abduallahWASHINGTON: A Saudi graduate student here in the US is promoting a website for King Abdullah, and hopes to gather over one million names and messages from throughout the world, for the king.

The website, which was launched on Saturday, has already gathered tens of thousands of signatures, Nada Saeed Al-Zahrani, told Arab News in a telephone interview from her school in Delaware.

Al-Zahrani said she did not create this website. Yousuf Dabbagh, the founder of the website, told reporters in the Kingdom this week that the website was created after the king recently returned to Saudi Arabia following an operation in the US, where he successfully underwent back surgery in New York City, followed by a period of convalescence in Morocco.

“I received the Web link from a friend of mine in Saudi Arabia, and she told me that three business gentlemen created this website and would like to spread it around,” said Al-Zahrani.

“I looked at it and thought we should have students in the US, and everyone else, sign the Web page and write a comment to the king expressing their appreciation for what they have received.”

“Our target is to get one million signatures. The Web page was released less than a week ago, and we just launched the appeal here last Saturday, and as of Tuesday night, we had obtained over 8,000 signatures in less than three days.”

The website also has been linked to some social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. The site can be found at www.mykingabdullah.com.

Al-Zahrani, who is from Dhahran, has been living with her family in the US for the past two years, when she started her doctorate degree in Technology Education at the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Delaware.

Al-Zahrani has a clear idea about what she wants to do with her education when she returns to Saudi Arabia and is currently earning her second Master’s degree. Eight years ago, she said, there were not many Saudi students here in the US, “but now I hear that there are many in Ohio and here in Delaware. And their numbers are increasing.”

According to Dr. Mody Alkhalaf, Director of Cultural and Social Affairs at the Cultural Mission of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, more than 40,000 Saudi students are currently studying in the United States.

As a Saudi woman who wears the hijab, or head scarf, Al-Zahrani said there were many opportunities to speak about Islam. “People here were so interested, they wanted to talk about what happened on 9/11, and if there was any similarity between the Saudis who took part in the 9/11 attacks and other Saudis.”

Her decision to promote the website came about, she said, because “people need to know that King Abdullah has always supported, and been concerned about the well-being of his people.

“After the stock market crashed in Saudi Arabia in 2007, he gave all employees throughout the kingdom a raise of 15 percent.”

Al-Zahrani added that she wants to tell “all Saudi scholars here in the US that King Abdullah sent us here on a mission. By providing us with these scholarships, we must show the world that first, we are good Saudi ambassadors; we also need to enhance our professional skills, so we can go back and help him to develop the country and reach his goal to bring the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be truly seen as a world leader. This is the way we can pay him back, and show the world who Saudis really are.”