Saudi Arabia and edX Join Forces to Bridge the Gap Between Education and Employment in the Arab World

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) portal created exclusively for Arab audiences will deliver vocational & employability skills to women, youth, persons with disabilities and citizens in rural communities


Cambridge, MA – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – July 15, 2014 EdX and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor today announced the launch of an open-platform Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) portal designed to bridge the gap between education and employment in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Arab world. Courses are expected to begin in September 2014 with a first-of-its-kind pilot program for Saudi women, youth, the disabled and citizens in rural communities.

This new e-learning portal will enhance demand-led educational opportunities by providing Saudi women, together with youth, the disabled and citizens in rural communities with more accessible, high-quality education opportunities to advance their careers. The initiative will be a MOOC portal, powered by edX’s open-source platform, for learners in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Arab world to access online courses from some of the leading academic institutions worldwide.

“This initiative marks a significant turning point for the citizens of Saudi Arabia and the Arab world,” said His Excellency Eng. Adel bin Mohammed Fakeih, Minister of Labor for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  “By providing accessible, relevant, high-quality education opportunities for our citizens, we will empower our communities and educate citizens to have the skills to succeed professionally.”

“The private sector in Saudi Arabia is growing rapidly and skilled workers are needed now more than ever to meet the rising demands,” said Maha Taibah, Advisor to the Ministry of Labor on Human Capital Development. ”Women and youth, in particular, are well-positioned to contribute to this need by having access to high-quality vocational training in areas such as IT, healthcare, retail and manufacturing. We expect the initiative to create job opportunities and economic empowerment in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Arab world.” 

The partnership between Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and edX is a multi-year, multifaceted collaboration, which includes Saudi Arabia’s significant investment in Open edX, as well as ongoing support from edX’s services team to Saudi instructors.  At the heart of the initiative is the curriculum, which will include a combination of courses licensed from edX university members and translated into Arabic, as well as original courses developed exclusively for Arabic-speaking students.  Additionally, the initiative will include a research component focused on learning through innovative technologies and R&D. 

“The Open edX platform initiative is a testament to the founding vision of edX to increase access to education for everyone, everywhere. Through extending educational opportunity to the people of Saudi Arabia, the initiative will help provide the skills necessary for economic empowerment,” said Anant Agarwal, CEO, edX. “We’ve received tremendous interest in the edX open source platform from countries around the world, including France, China, Jordan, and Mexico, and we are pleased to continue our commitment to increase access to education globally through this collaboration with Saudi Arabia.” 

About the Ministry of Labor 
The Ministry of Labor is the labor law regulator and policy maker in Saudi Arabia. Their overall objectives are to organize employment of the workforce through implementation of the labor law, human recourses planning, development and settlement of labor issues and disputes in the private sector. The Ministry also provides training and recruitment services of Saudi citizens to the private sector to increase the number of qualifying Saudi youth for technical and industrial fields.

About edX
EdX is a nonprofit, open source enterprise offering online courses from more than 50 member institutions, comprised of both leading global universities and a diverse group of prominent organizations around the world. Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX is focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research on an open source platform. Based in Cambridge, MA, USA, edX is focused on people, not profit.