AL-ULA: An international scholarship program to forge a new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders who will change the face of this northwestern city has been launched by the Saudi Royal Commission for Al-Ula. The scheme, announced under the banner “Investing in the human infrastructure,” will encourage Al-Ula students to hone their professional and leadership skills, sharpen their innovation abilities and help shape the governorate’s future. Under the program, students from Al-Ula will be sent to leading academic institutions in the US, UK and France, as well as other parts of the world. Diplomas and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees will be available in fields such as tourism, hospitality, agricultural technologies and archaeology that will boost development efforts in the future Saudi tourism hub. The Royal Commission hopes to turn the Al-Ula governorate into one of the most important archaeological and cultural destinations in the Kingdom. The scholarship program was launched by the commission’s representatives and Al-Ula dignitaries, as well as representatives from academic institutions in the governorate, at a press conference at the Al-Ula Governorate Educational Administration’s auditorium. “The program reflects the government’s keenness to build a generation equipped with specialized scientific knowledge as well as innovative leadership and entrepreneurship skills,” said Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, governor of Royal Commission for Al-Ula. “Through this program, young men and women will support Al-Ula’s contributions to achieve the Vision 2030 objectives. Al-Ula has a rich archaeological and cultural history and natural resources that can enhance its position in the global tourism scene.” Amr Saleh Al-Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, said that developing the “human infrastructure” and training young people to become future leaders were top priorities for the commission. “Empowering the youth is critical to the growth and development of any modern society,” Al-Madani said. “This program has been designed as a pioneering platform that produces highly qualified citizens capable of transforming innovation and entrepreneurship ideas into reality to keep pace with Al-Ula’s future growth projects.” The scholarship program will not only qualify students academically but also provide them with self-development and skill enhancement courses. “These initiatives and activities will broaden the knowledge of the students and acquaint them with the best global practices through practical training, seminars and specialized workshops,” he said. Eid Al-Yahya, board member of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula and presenter of “In the Footsteps of the Arabs,” said that the newly established commission was taking a leading role in human development. Applicants for scholarships should be Saudi citizens who were born in Al-Ula or who have studied there for at least six years. Children of a Saudi father or mother born in Al-Ula are also eligible. Al-Madani said that students who completed their scholarship would not be required to join the commission or follow any specific career. “They are free to either be part of the development process or simply change career path, or even withdraw if they feel like it,” he said. The commission called on students who meet the admission requirements to apply and be part of Al-Ula’s development plans. Applications can be made through the commission website from Jan. 28. The commission also launched its official Twitter account on the same day as the announcement. In 2005, the late King Abdullah launched the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which helped more than 207,000 students and dependents in 2014, at a cost of some SR22.5 billion ($6 billion), according to a report carried by Reuters citing a government data.