Fake diplomas have become widespread in the Arab Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, during the past few years.
People on social media across the GCC have been attempting to bring the issue back to the debate in recent days, with one Kuwaiti scholar creating an Arabic hashtag on Twitter roughly translated in English as ‘Cartoonish’ to illustrate how rampant is the spread of fake diplomas.
In Saudi Arabia, Dr. Muwafaq al-Ruwaili has been one of the harshest critics on this issue and has said that he had evidence proving that one university was handing out 6,000 doctorate degrees and nearly 3,800 degrees at the bachelors and masters levels.
Between 2009 and 2013, the Saudi ministry of higher education shut down more than 310 offices that were promoting the sale of fake diplomas and degrees in many cities across the kingdom.
A number of Saudi men launched a Twitter campaign in 2014 calling for the credentials of expatriate doctors recently hired to work in the Kingdom to be double checked.
The campaign came after an Egyptian doctor who used fake diplomas to work as an anesthesia consultant was caught after 10 years of service at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital of Dammam. It sheds light on the medical errors made by fake doctors.
The Saudi Engineering Society recently announced that through their own investigation, at least 2,000 engineers were found to be employed based on fake diplomas and degrees and said that unqualified employees were the reason for the poor reputation of the engineering industry in Saudi Arabia.
Call for stricter law
Many in Saudi Arabia have said that outdated laws and regulations have allowed for such rampant spread of fake degrees and called for stricter legislation within both the academic and labor fields to attest degrees in the future.
“How is it fair that a Saudi citizen spends years of hard work getting the grades in high school and university for a degree that he can then take to find jobs and then comes another who can simply buy the same degree without any efforts whatsoever,” Mohammed Mansour, a university graduate, told Al Arabiya’s Special Mission program.
But Saudi Arabia is not the only country facing this problem. Kuwait has faced the same, with some educational attestation centers saying it is impossible to eradicate the phenomenon altogether.
“Many are taking advantage of people looking for a quick fix in today’s highly competitive job markets. Even though Kuwait has created several verification centers and passed legislation to tackle the problem, the trend will continue as fraudulent businesses will look at creative ways of keeping their fake diploma businesses alive,” said Nouria A. Al-Awadi, director of Kuwait’s National Bureau for Academic Accreditation and Education Quality Assurance.