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

December 11 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 2020 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 2020 can be viewed here. 

The top university this year 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 20 universities altogether. Algeria is next with eight institutions; Saudi Arabia and Tunisia have six institutions; Jordan and Morocco have five; the United Arab Emirates has four; Lebanon has three; Iraq has two and 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. Alfaisal University 

Alfaisal University is a private non-profit 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.

3. 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. 

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. 

4. 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.  

5. 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. 

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Top universities in the Arab World 2020 

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2020 results

Arab Rank 2020 Arab rank 2019 University Country
1 1 King Abdulaziz University Saudi Arabia
2 3 Alfaisal University Saudi Arabia
3 5 United Arab Emirates University United Arab Emirates
4 2 Khalifa University United Arab Emirates
5 4 Jordan University of Science and Technology Jordan
6 7 American University of Beirut Lebanon
7 6 Qatar University Qatar
8 NR Aswan University Egypt
9 14 Mansoura University Egypt
10 9 King Saud University Saudi Arabia
11 11 Suez Canal University Egypt
12 8 King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences Saudi Arabia
13 12 King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals Saudi Arabia
14 =29 Ferhat Abbas Sétif University 1 Algeria
15 NR King Khalid University Saudi Arabia
16 15 Kafrelsheikh University Egypt
17 24 Cairo University Egypt
18 22 University of Sharjah United Arab Emirates
19 13 Beni-Suef University Egypt
20 =18 Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University Morocco
21 16 American University in Cairo Egypt
22 =18 University of Béjaïa Algeria
23 17 Benha University Egypt
24 10 Lebanese American University Lebanon
25 NR Al-Balqa Applied University Jordan
26 =33 University of Jordan Jordan
27 =20 American University of Sharjah United Arab Emirates
28 27 University of Baghdad Iraq
=29 25 Kuwait University Kuwait
=29 NR Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth Lebanon
=31 28 Sultan Qaboos University Oman
=31 =20 Tanta University Egypt
33 37 Ain Shams University Egypt
34 =38 South Valley University Egypt
35 =33 Fayoum University Egypt
36 31 Alexandria University Egypt
37 23 Sohag University Egypt
38 =29 University of Sfax Tunisia
39 35 University of Tunis El Manar Tunisia
40 =40 Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University Saudi Arabia
41 26 Mohammed V University of Rabat Morocco
42 NR University of Manouba Tunisia
43 =38 Assiut University Egypt
44 44 Zagazig University Egypt
45 32 University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad Morocco
46 NR University of Carthage Tunisia
47 47 Minia University Egypt
=48 43 Université Hassan II de Casablanca Morocco
=48 NR University of Technology, Iraq Iraq
50 48 Menoufia University Egypt
51 42 Helwan University Egypt
52 NR University of Sousse Tunisia
=53 =40 University of Monastir Tunisia
=53 36 University of Tlemcen Algeria
55 46 Al-Azhar University Egypt
56 NR Ibn Tofaïl University Morocco
57 45 Yarmouk University Jordan
58 52 Hashemite University Jordan
59 NR University of Biskra Algeria
60 50 University of Constantine 1 Algeria
61 NR University of Science and Technology of Oran Mohamed-Boudiaf Algeria
62 51 University of Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene Algeria
63 NR M'Hamed Bougara University of Boumerdès Algeria

Read more: Best universities in Asia 

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