Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has advised students from the state who are pursuing their studies abroad not to return home every year, saying their time and money should be used to gain more experience overseas.
He said that some of them return to their hometown every year and chided parents who demand zakat institutions provide financial assistance to their children who wish to come home.
"Parents get upset with the zakat institutions for not giving money to their children.
"When fruits are in season, they come back; when their siblings get married, they come back. The cost of round-trip airfare is already more than what zakat money provides.
"Don't ask your children to come back," he said during his programme with Kedah students in Cairo, Egypt.
He added that this includes the money used to buy goods for their families in the village.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Mohd Na'im Mokhtar recently announced that there are around 6,000 Malaysian students in Egypt, the majority of whom are pursuing Islamic studies.
A report from the higher education ministry in 2020, meanwhile, stated that nearly 10,000 Malaysian students were in the Middle East, with more than 8,000 in Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia (333), Jordan (654), Turkey (547), Iran (36), the United Arab Emirates (19), Kuwait (16), Qatar (12), and Lebanon (4).
Sanusi, who was sworn in as menteri besar for the second term last month, said students should instead spend their time and money travelling in Egypt and gaining experience.
"Take the opportunity to visit and gain experience in the land of Egypt.
"If you have extra money, go to the UK to pick apples.
"That's how you increase your knowledge while being far away," he said.