Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Keys to Success in the Workplace

Summer 2017  – United States & Saudi Arabia – Following successful 2014 – 2016 Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Programs, Legacy International is pleased to welcome a new delegation of Saudi young leaders to the U.S. in  July, 2017.

The Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program (SYLEP) is multi-phased leadership experience for 36 Saudi university students (ages 20-25) and 4 U.S. university students. Phase 1 is a 3-week U.S. program. Phase 2 involves implementing learning through an innovative project they design while in the United States.

SYLEP participants will cultivate an entrepreneurial profile through development of workplace and personal effectiveness competencies, in addition to polishing the soft skills necessary for career success.

Over the course of their U.S. stay, participants will engage in stimulating trainings and experiences while interacting with dozens of Americans (volunteers, host families, and community leaders). They will gain skills in leadership, creative program design, critical thinking, and community engagement while deepening their respect and appreciation for diversity. Participants will divide into subgroups to visit different cities in the U.S. (Pittsburgh, PA, Blacksburg, VA & Austin, TX), where they will experience the entrepreneurial environment of that community and spend a weekend living with American host families. Upon their return home, they conduct follow-on projects in their home communities or university campuses, supported by Legacy International.

Program Details


A big challenge facing Saudi youth is employment.  While educational levels may be high, hands-on experience is often low, and economic privilege dampens creativity, risk-taking, and perseverance.  Youth in Saudi Arabia aspire to careers where stability is easily obtainable.  Despite historic government incentives for private companies to hire Saudis, 90% of private sector employees were still foreigners in 2009, in part because motivation, experience, and job readiness is higher among foreign nationals.  As a result, many talented young Saudis find employment opportunities limited, or are insufficiently prepared for the demands of high-level employment.  In many instances, it is not due to lack of technical ability or education.  Young Saudi job seekers tend to focus on showing their technical capabilities, while employers pay greater attention to attitude and behavioral traits.  There is a need to invest in raising the entrepreneurial potential and job readiness of Saudi youths.





2017 Program Dates 

  • July 5 – U.S. student “Cultural Ambassadors’ arrive (Washington, DC)
  • July 6 – U.S. Cultural Ambassadors Orientation. Saudi students arrive (Washington, DC)
  • July 7-13 – Orientation & Leadership Clinic (Washington, DC)
  • July 14 – 22 – Community Immersion (Pittsburgh, PA; Blacksburg, VA; or Austin, TX)
  • July 23– 27 – Innovation Summit (Washington, DC)
  • July 28 – Departures & Staff Team Wrap-up

Partners, 2017

Ways to Participate:

  • U.S. university students who are currently enrolled in a college or university or recent graduates may apply as U.S. Cultural Ambassador.
  • U.S. families who live in one of the three host communities may serve as home stay hosts for our Saudi guests (July 14 -16;  2 nights)
  • Saudi university students, ages 20-25, who are citizens and currently residing and studying in Saudi Arabia are eligible.  Those who are pursuing studies in innovative fields such as business and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) are especially encouraged.  (Students with significant prior U.S. experience (ex. study abroad), are U.S. citizens or hold U.S. Permanent Residency status are not eligible.)  Applicants should possess sufficient English to participate in U.S. university-level classes.  Questions?  Email  SYLEPKSA@gmail.com. For more information, also visit Legacy’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page.


SYLEP is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by Legacy International with assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia