(MENAFN - Arab News) Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), chairman of the board of trustees of the Prince Salman Center for Disabilities Research in Riyadh and the first Arab astronaut, has been awarded Syracuse University's prestigious Chancellor's Medal for Outstanding Achievement.
Prince Sultan was given the medal during a ceremony on Friday at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The ceremony was attended by Prince Salman bin Sultan, Saudi Cultural Attache in the US Muhammad Al-Eissa, SU staff and Saudi students at the university.
Prince Sultan dedicated the award to the Kingdom and his parents. He commended the Saudi government's efforts to give opportunities to its citizens. "There are about 70,000 Saudi scholarship students in the US under King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program," the prince said, adding that more than 150,000 students have benefited from the program.
Prince Sultan requested his teachers at the university to come onto the stage to celebrate the award, in appreciation of the knowledge they imparted and the care they gave him when he studied there.
The Chancellor's Medal is given to individuals in honor of their expertise and contributions to their community, the university and the world. Prince Sultan studied at the University of Denver and received his master of social science degree from the Maxwell School in 1999.
Sultan was recognized for his lead role as president of SCTA in fostering a better understanding of and appreciation for Saudi Arabia, its people and its rich cultural heritage; and his key role in helping launch a collaborative partnership between SU and Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University, the first all-female university in Riyadh and one of the first and largest women's universities in the Middle East.
He was selected for the award for his long-time deep dedication to scientific exploration and knowledge. In 1985, he became the first Arab and Muslim to go into space as a member of the international crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery; and his commitment to promoting services and research for those with disabilities matches SU's own historical strengths as a leader in disability rights.
"Prince Sultan's wide-ranging accomplishments stand in the finest SU tradition of breaking down barriers," says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. "Whether setting records as an astronaut or advocating for opportunity for women and people with disabilities, he courageously has blazed new trails in the Arab world."
Prince Sultan started his career as a researcher in the Department of International Communications at the Ministry of Information in Saudi Arabia in 1982. He served as deputy director of the Saudi Media Committee for the Saudi athletes participating in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.