Best universities in the Arab World

Explore the top universities in parts of the Middle East and North Africa based on data collected by Times Higher Education

April 5 2019
Best universities in the Middle East and North Africa

Times Higher Education has compiled a table of the best universities in the Arab World based on data from the 2019 World University Rankings.

The league table has been compiled by filtering the World University Rankings results to include only universities located in nations that are members of the Arab LeagueTHE has then ranked the best universities based on their overall ranking score. The full methodology of the World University Ranking 2019 can be viewed here. 

The top university in the 2019 table is King Abdulaziz University, in Saudi Arabia. All the universities in the top five are in the Middle East, while universities situated in North Africa – including universities from Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria – feature further down the list. 

The most represented country in the ranking is Egypt, with 19 universities altogether. Algeria and Saudi Arabia are next with six institutions each; Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates have four; Tunisia has three; Lebanon has two and Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar each have one university on the list. 

Many of the universities featured in the ranking are specialist science and technology universities.

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The top five universities in the Arab World

1. King Abdulaziz University

King Abdulaziz University was established in 1967 in Jeddah on the banks of the Red Sea. The university was named after the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud. It was initially established as a private university but was converted to a public university in 1974.

Students who attend the university receive free education and housing. It has a comprehensive learning programme across faculties, including the arts and humanities, science and technology and medicine. The university also offers some courses that are unavailable at any other universities in Saudi Arabia, such as marine science, meteorology and astronomy. 

King Abdulaziz University adheres to Islamic regulations by having separate campuses for men and women, each equipped with a library and athletic and recreational facilities.  

2. Khalifa University

Khalifa University is located in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with another campus in Sharjah.

The university is just over a decade old, founded in 2007 by a decree issued by UAE president His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

There are eight undergraduate engineering programmes and seven graduate degree programmes. 

The university has plans to build a new campus near the current campus in Abu Dhabi. This new campus will house a medical school, state-of-the-art labs, a student hub and sporting facilities.  

3. Alfaisal University 

Alfaisal University is a private nonprofit research institute, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The university is still fairly young, having been established in 2002. Some 67 per cent of the students are from Saudi Arabia and the remaining 33 per cent come from 40 other nations. 

Five colleges make up the university: medicine, engineering, business, science and general studies and pharmacy.

4. Jordan University of Science and Technology

The Jordan University of Science and Technology is a state-supported university in northern Jordan. 

The campus is divided into two sections. The first is the Medical Faculties Complex comprising the faculties of dentistry, medicine, nursing, applied medical sciences, pharmacy and science and arts.

The second section is the Engineering Faculties Complex, which contains the faculties of agriculture, computer and information technology, engineering, architecture and design and veterinary medicine. Each complex also has its own library.

The number of international students at the university has continued to increase since the university was established, with students now coming from more than 60 countries. 

5. United Arab Emirates University

The United Arab Emirates University is the oldest university in the UAE, having been founded in 1976. 

Students come from all seven Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah, Umm Al-Quwain) plus 59 other countries, with international students making up a quarter of the entire student body. 

In the academic year 2016/17, male students represented 19 per cent of the student population while female students represented 81 per cent of the student population. 

Some 90 per cent of undergraduate programmes at the university include an internship and many students gain their first jobs with the organisation that they completed their internship with. 

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Top universities in the Arab World 2019 

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2019 results

Arab Rank 2019 Arab Rank 2018 University Country/region
1 1 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
2 2 Khalifa University United Arab Emirates
3 7 Alfaisal University Saudi Arabia
4 4 Jordan University of Science and Technology Jordan
5 5 United Arab Emirates University United Arab Emirates
6 3 Qatar University Qatar
7 6 American University of Beirut Lebanon
8 NR King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences Saudi Arabia
9 8 King Saud University Saudi Arabia
10 NR Lebanese American University Lebanon
11 16 Suez Canal University Egypt
12 9 King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals Saudi Arabia
13 10 Beni-Suef University Egypt
14 18 Mansoura University Egypt
15 NR Kafrelsheikh University Egypt
16 11 American University in Cairo Egypt
17 NR Benha University Egypt
=18 NR University of Béjaïa Algeria
=18 29 Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University Morocco
=20 12 American University of Sharjah United Arab Emirates
=20 NR Tanta University Egypt
22 14 University of Sharjah United Arab Emirates
23 NR Sohag University Egypt
24 17 Cairo University Egypt
25 13 Kuwait University Kuwait
26 20 Mohammed V University of Rabat Morocco
27 NR University of Baghdad Iraq
28 15 Sultan Qaboos University Oman
=29 NR Ferhat Abbas Sétif University 1 Algeria
=29 NR University of Sfax Tunisia
31 21 Alexandria University Egypt
32 19 University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad Morocco
=33 NR Fayoum University Egypt
=33 22 University of Jordan Jordan
35 28 University of Tunis El Manar Tunisia
36 25 University of Tlemcen Algeria
37 23 Ain Shams University Egypt
=38 26 Assiut University Egypt
=38 24 South Valley University Egypt
=40 27 Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University Saudi Arabia
=40 30 University of Monastir Tunisia
42 NR Helwan University Egypt
43 NR Université Hassan II de Casablanca Morocco
44 NR Zagazig University Egypt
45 NR Yarmouk University Jordan
46 NR Al-Azhar University Egypt
47 NR Minia University Egypt
48 NR Menoufia University Egypt
49 NR Badji Mokhtar University – Annaba Algeria
50 NR University of Constantine 1 Algeria
51 NR University of Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene Algeria
52 31 Hashemite University Jordan

Read more: Best universities in the Asia-Pacific region

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