The only India that 22-year-old Saudi student Kholoud Bakr had seen was in Bollywood movies laced with song and dance.
But after a 10-day stay in the country, Kholoud feels she has seen the “technological face of India” about which she knew nothing earlier.
One of the 40 members of a youth delegation from Saudi Arabia on a visit to India, she was amazed to see the use of information technology at the country’s technology hubs.
“All that I knew about India was what I had seen in Bollywood movies. But after coming here and visiting the universities and IT centres, I am amazed at the will power and level of technology that has penetrated the Indian society,” she said.
“We might have come from a different cultural background and society, but the determination among the younger generation to bring in change connects us with the Indian youth,” she said.
According to many members of the delegation, Saudis were opening their minds to progress and equal youth involvement.
Clad in colourful embroidered thobes with their heads covered, women stood with men as they came from diverse backgrounds such as science, management and IT. Led by Saudi Deputy Minister for Economic and Cultural Affairs Yousef Terad Al Saadon, the team visited Hyderabad, Bangalore and Delhi.
Technology was not the only subject of interest for some members of the delegation. For 26-year old Aisha Bashayan, the role of young women in development was critical to social growth.
“Women are change agents across the world. But in reference to Saudi Arabia and India, I got to see how their voice is emerging stronger with each passing day in the course of development,” she said.
Kholoud agreed. “I am a Saudi woman travelling alone, trying to bring about a change. What does this say about gender equality? It is by culture and choice that women cover their heads. But when there is determination to work for the country, gender does not matter.”
The men were also dressed in traditional thobes.
The Saudi delegation, exchanged ideas and information with students from Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology on telemedicine and tele-education.
“It was great to know that the Saudi youth discuss democracy, corruption and gender,” Mohit Sharma, a student of the Institute said.
Source: India Abroad News Service, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Delhi