ASU student in the library


Thunderbird School of Global Management

ASU has collaborated with Saudi entities on customized academic programming through its Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Saudi Aramco — Saudi Arabian Oil Company

Aramco approached Thunderbird to develop a custom leadership program for first-time supervisors, which ASU helped design and launch within three months at Aramco’s Ras Laffan training center in Qatar. The program brought together instructional designers, project managers, coaches and subject experts to create a program tailored to Aramco’s specific needs and strategic vision. In a pilot program, Thunderbird trained the trainers and participated in a second phase to integrate the program throughout Aramco.

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Prominent Saudi institutions

Thunderbird is developing ties to prominent Saudi institutions such as King Saud University, the Arab world’s leading research university; Al Yamamah University, a private, Riyadh-based university for men and women; and King Abdulaziz University, or KAU, which is part of the Saudi public university system. Building on long-standing personal relationships between the two universities, KAU wanted to develop instruction for students and executives.

Xenel Open-Enrollment Program

For years, Thunderbird and the private Jeddah-based firm Xenel have offered international students an open-enrollment, eight-module program in Saudi Arabia. Students learned how do develop competitive strategies for marketing, financing and negotiation, as well as leadership skills.


In January 2012, Thunderbird teamed up with the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, or SABIC, to introduce a 48-credit program, composed of 14 modules. Of these, eight are completed in Riyadh, one online and five at Thunderbird. Another cohort of 30 students participated in 2014. (Program currently on hold.)

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Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

"Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion" is an initiative of the Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Its aim is to strengthen the values, skills, knowledge and attitudes of teachers, counselors and principals through university-led structured immersion in high-performing, English-speaking K–12 school systems. The ministry designed the initiative to transform the Saudi Arabian education system to strengthen the country's competitiveness, support economic diversification and provide the human capital required for the success of KSA's Vision 2030 and National Transformation plans. "Building Leadership" participants are expected to be effective change agents when they return to Saudi Arabia. 

 Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has strong partnerships with K–12 schools in Arizona, as well as extensive experience working with international educators. For the KSA Building Leadership initiative, the Center for Advanced Studies in Global Education at MLFTC will provide a year of study at ASU for 46 teacher leaders from Saudi Arabia. ASU will coordinate the program with Global LaunchAshoka’s Youth Venture; and the Washington ElementaryPhoenix Elementary, and Cave Creek Unified school districts. A five-part program of study offered at ASU will include orientation to U.S. educational institutions, English language training, technical knowledge and skills development, and guided immersion in an Arizona school district. While at ASU, participants will develop individual professional development plans that include an action research proposal for a capstone project. Those projects will support the sixth phase of their participation, the implementation of their project in their classrooms and schools upon returning home.