United States, Canada, Europe, Australia… All of these places are very popular with exchange students from all over the world who dream of their high-profile universities and international recognition. But there is a region in the world that also has good universities but is not so popular when it comes to studying abroad: the Middle East. Are you curious? So find out now which are the best universities in the Middle East.
What is the Middle East?
Before seeing which are the best universities in the Middle East, it is important to understand which countries are part of that region. According to CountryAAH, this definition is not 1oo% accurate and may vary depending on the economic, geographic and socio-political point of view.
However, it is often said that the Middle East is made up of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Cyprus, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Syria and the Asian portions Egypt and Turkey. But to make this list, not considering Egypt and Turkey (because they are not entirely in the Middle East) nor Israel (for being in a general contest totally apart from the other countries in the region).
King Abdulaziz University
Where? Jeddah – Saudi Arabia
King Abdulaziz University is a rare case of a private educational institution transformed into a public institution. It was founded in 1967 by a group of businessmen, but in 1974 it was converted into a public university through a decision by the Saudi Arabian cabinet of ministers ordered by King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
According to the QS ranking, it is the best university in the Middle East, occupying a select position among the 200 best educational institutions in the world (in 143rd place).
The university is divided between 19 colleges and 13 research centers (predominantly in the areas of Medicine, Environment, Energy and Climate Change).
It has a faculty of approximately 83 thousand students and, contrary to what one might think, a good part of these students come from several other countries.
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
Where? Dhahran – Saudi Arabia
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals is a public institution and has the best programs in the areas of Science, Engineering, Business and Management across Saudi Arabia. It was founded in 1963 and has about 8 thousand undergraduate and 1500 graduate students. It ranks 186th in the QS ranking.
The university is divided into a business school – the KFUPM Business School (KBS) and six faculties: Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences; Engineering Sciences and Applied Engineering; Computer Science and Engineering; Sciences; Environmental Design and General Studies. In addition, the institution also has two Community Colleges offering Associate Degrees: Dammam Community College and Hafar Al-Batin Community College.
Where? Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR) has a main campus in Abu Dhabi and a satellite campus in Sharja, the third largest city in the United Arab Emirates. It occupies the 211 position in the QS ranking, tied with the University of Notre Dame, in the United States.
It is the youngest of all the universities on the list (it was founded in 2007 as a result of the merger of other institutions) and even so it already occupies the third place among the best universities in the Middle East.
With a highly internationalized student body and faculty, the approximately 3500 students of the university are distributed between an engineering faculty and an International and Civil Security Institute. Altogether, 12 undergraduate programs, 14 master’s and 1 doctoral programs are offered.
American University of Beirut
Where? Beirut – Lebanon
Founded in 1866, the American University of Beirut (AUB) is the oldest of the best universities in the Middle East. It offers 141 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs on a large campus made up of 64 buildings, including academic units, dormitories, museums, libraries and even a hospital.
The university’s official language is English and approximately 1/5 of the students come from other countries. The degrees awarded by the university are registered by the State University of New York, the system of public colleges and universities of the American state.
The institution has just over 9400 students (about 7800 in undergraduate courses and 1600 in graduate courses). Currently, AUB has six faculties (Agriculture and Food Science; Arts and Sciences; Health Sciences; Engineering and Architecture; Medicine and Nursing) and a business school – the Olayan School of Business.
In the QS ranking, the American University of Beirut ranks 220th among the 1000 best higher education institutions in the world.
University of Qatar
Where? Doha – Qatar
At the University of Qatar, ranked 245th in the QS ranking, courses are taught in English (in the areas of Engineering, Natural Sciences and Business) and Arabic (in the areas of Education, Arts and Social Sciences). In all, the institution has 10 faculties, including one dedicated exclusively to Sharia (Islamic Law) and Islamic studies. About 8 thousand students are distributed among these colleges.
At the institution, all students undergo a “Foundation Program”, having access to skills that are considered basic for all programs, such as Mathematics, English and Computer Technology.
About 70% of the student population is made up of women! And they have classrooms and other exclusive facilities. For example, there is a Business School for men and another for women. This is repeated in other units. The university has representatives from 52 nationalities among its student body.
United Arab Emirates University
Where? Al Ain – United Arab Emirates
Founded in 1976, the University of the United Arab Emirates is the oldest in the United Arab Emirates and one of the country’s three public higher education institutions. It is known nationally for training the main leaders of the Emirates, among diplomats, government officials, ministers and businessmen.
The institution is in the city of Al Ain, which is approximately 140 kilometers away from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, respectively the main city and capital of the country.
The university has about 15 thousand students in undergraduate courses and 680 in graduate programs. About 25% of the institution’s student population is made up of foreign students.
Unlike the other universities cited so far, the University of the United Arab Emirates does not have a single campus. Instead, 6 small campuses around the city host the 9 colleges that make up the university: Education; Engineering; Business and Economy; Food and Agriculture; Humanities and Social Sciences; Information Technology; Medicine and Health Sciences; Law and Science.
In the QS ranking, the institution ranks 284th, exactly between two universities in Europe: the University of Cologne, in Germany; and the University of Tartu, Estonia.
The following institutions complete the TOP 10 of the best universities in the Middle East:
- King Saud University (Riyadh – Saudi Arabia): 287th place in the QS ranking
- American University of Sharjah (Sharjah – United Arab Emirates): 348th place in the QS ranking
- Sultan Qaboos University (Muscat – Oman): 375th place in the QS ranking
- Umm Al-Qura University (Mecca – Saudi Arabia): 474th place in the QS ranking