Peje Emilsson, the owner of Kunskapsskolan, a prominent Swedish school organization, has faced criticism for his involvement in running schools in Saudi Arabia despite concerns over gender segregation and mandatory Quran studies. However, Emilsson argues that the education provided in Saudi Arabia is often better than that in most Swedish schools. He believes that different countries have different norms and principles, and it is important to respect and adapt to them. He also mentions that education in Saudi Arabia has seen significant improvements and highlights the positive changes happening in the country.
Emilsson does not see any issues with doing business in dictatorships and believes that schools and education will play an increasingly important role in such contexts. He mentions that Saab, a Swedish defense company, has been involved in the school projects in the Middle East, seeing it as a way to facilitate business deals. Meanwhile, critics argue that using schools and children’s education as a means to enable arms deals is problematic.
Emilsson acknowledges the human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia and claims to address these issues when meeting with Saudi officials. He also suggests that journalists should visit Saudi Arabia to see the positive developments firsthand, although it is challenging to obtain journalist visas due to limited press freedom in the country. Overall, Emilsson emphasizes the need to focus on improving education regardless of the political context.