Jobs for Sharia graduates 'saturated'
Riyadh, June 28, 2009
The Saudi job market does not need more graduates in Islamic studies, the head of one of Saudi Arabia's newest universities said in remarks published on Sunday.
The comments by Mohammed Ali Al-Hazaa, who directs Jazan University in the south, could irritate many in the influential religious establishment which has held back reforms aimed at creating a modern state and combating Islamic militancy.
Founded in 2006 by King Abdullah, Jazan University does not have a faculty for religious studies, unlike other universities in the kingdom, the world's biggest oil exporter.
"There is no need in the job market for graduates in Sharia (Islamic law) and the foundations of religion. We don't want to increase unemployment and the market is saturated," Hazaa told Okaz newspaper.
The education ministry has been considering ways of improving education after King Abdullah removed two hardline clerics from top positions in February in what analysts said was an effort to curb the influence of the powerful clerical establishment.
John Sfakianakis, chief economist at SABB Bank in Riyadh, said the government had spent more than $120 billion on education since 2005.
Graduates in religious studies work in government, education, the mosques, the courts and in the religious police force, which patrols Saudi streets to enforce public morality requirements. - Reuters
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