Bridging the Gap between
and the USA
through Establishing American Studies Departments and Centers
Mazin S. Motabagani
Associate professor of Orientalistics
The Arabs before the advent of Islam were well versed in trade and commerce which called for real knowledge of the surrounding countries and empires. This was developed after Islam and the
became a major power in the World politics. The real encouragement of Islam in
promoting learning and exploration of the world created fast literature about
other peoples and nations. Muslim State
Muslim travelers became real references about many countries such as the travels of ibn Fadhlan, Ibn Hawqal and others.
Then Muslim world faced decadence and backwardness which affected their interest in learning about other nations and peoples until the renaissance that came about in the late nineteenth century with the beginning of the educational missions to Europe and the
USA. In this
period we find the writings of Rifaa Altahtawi, Khairdeen Tunisi and others.
However these early writings did not develop in an academic discipline such as
Orientalism, area studies and regional studies in the West.
Recently the relationship between
Saudi Arabia and the USA faced a strong setback with the
events of 9/11. Though both parties have spent great efforts to restore these
relations, but real work still needed. Therefore in order to improve the
relations between Saudi Arabia and the USA and bridge the gap between the two
countries particularly after the 9/11 incident which deteriorated drastically,
Saudi Arabia should take the initiative to establish American Studies Centers
at the leading Saudi universities. These Centers should facilitate means and
ways to educate the Saudi intellectuals and the policy makers about critically
important issues of the west and particularly the USA: past and present. These
studies should benefit from the models set by the Middle Eastern Studies
Centers and departments in the United States
and Europe. Saudi students should enroll in
different departments at American universities to study American History,
government, society literature..etc.
This paper will look into the prospects of establishing these studies and the great effects they could have in bridging the gap between the two friendly nations and governments.