01/25/2012 11:29 EST | Updated 03/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Saudi embassy offers reward for information on student missing in Saskatchewan

REGINA - The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Ottawa is offering a reward for information on the whereabouts of a university student missing since mid-December.

Embassy lawyer Gar Knutson says 23-year-old Hamza Alsharief is in his third year of chemical engineering at the University of Saskatchewan on a scholarship from Saudi Arabia.

Knutson says he has been working closely with Alsharief's friends and family in Ontario and Saudi Arabia.

He says in the five years he's worked at the embassy, this is the first time anyone's gone missing.

He describes Alsharief as a gifted student on the shy side who likes to play soccer with friends.

Knutson says he was doing OK in his third year of school, adding there weren't any signs of academic anxiety.

“It’s a worry that he may have harmed himself but we’re proceeding on the basis that he’s still alive,” said Knutson.

Foul play isn't suspected but Knutson points out Alsharief's identification was left behind, which makes the case that much more mysterious.

“He’s a bright a young man, he comes from a family of high achievers in terms of academics,” said Knutson.

“When they come here there’s a certain amount of personal and individual freedom that they don’t have back home, but he’d been here for two and a half years."