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October 31st, 2008
Saudi Arabia's First Women's University

Rawan Jabaji

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has announced plans to build the first women-only university in the kingdom, and vows that it will be the largest women’s university in the world.

This is a bold move by the king, who has frequently struggled against Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious establishment to educate women in the kingdom and integrate them in the workplace. Until now, women have had limited access to higher education in restricted women’s sections of Saudi universities where they are only permitted to study certain subjects. Saudi women still can’t drive, vote or be caught in public without their spouse or a male relative.

I spent a number of my childhood years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the 80s and 90s due to my father’s work, but I always commuted back and forth between school in upstate New York and summers in the kingdom with my family. My cousin lived in Riyadh and attended a public high school up through her senior year.

When my cousin completed high school, she visited King Faisal University, one of the many public colleges in the kingdom, which has both male and female sections. She described the scene for me. At the university, women are segregated from their male peers, and even their professors. In the classroom, women sit at desks surrounded by wood panels on either side. Professors lecture from remote locations and the women listen through a TV screen. And if a female student has a question during class, she alerts the professor by pressing a button below her TV screen and addressing the professor through a microphone.

Saudi men often study abroad if they can afford tuition and maneuver getting a student visa.  It’s considered more prestigious to study outside the country, so if they can’t go to the United States or Europe to study, Saudi men enroll in universities in the Middle East instead of staying in the kingdom.

It’s another story for women.

Women who wish to continue their education beyond high school are often persuaded to stay within the kingdom’s reigns, as it isn’t customary for women to leave their home before marriage. And if a woman does leave, she must be accompanied by her spouse or a male relative.  Women experienced university studies in Saudi Arabia as they experience much of life in the kingdom — behind the veil. However this new initiative by King Abdullah may be one of many nascent steps to reform, and possibly indicative of relaxing social norms in the conservative kingdom.

Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University for Girls, set to be completed in 2010, will allow women to study medicine, pharmacy, management, computer sciences and various languages—subjects that women have difficulty studying in the gender-segregated public universities in Saudi Arabia. University president Princess Al-Jowhara Bint Fahd said that the university is designed to become the world’s largest center of higher learning for women.

We want to make it a leading international institution,” said Princess Al-Jowhara.

This is a milestone in the kingdom’s history, particularly in the history of women’s education,” said Ibrahim Al Assaf, Minister of Finance. “The campus would include an administration building, a central library, conference centers, buildings for 15 academic faculties, several laboratories and a 700-bed hospital equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.”

The university will be built on the eastern suburbs of Riyadh, with the capacity to enroll about 40,000 female students.The environmentally friendly university will include a high-tech transport system with automatic and computer-controlled vehicles linking all important facilities at the university. The campus will also include housing for university staff, mosques, a kindergarten and an exclusive amusement center for families and students.

And the price tag on the women’s university will be approximately $5 billion USD.

“The king’s presence here shows his generous support for women empowerment in Saudi Arabia and his keen desire to promote higher education,” said Khaled Al-Anqari, the Minister of Higher Education.

In 2004, Wide Angle visited Saudi Arabia in The Saudi Question. The film includes an interview with Senator Joe Biden, then the ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

  • NUZHAT SULTANA

    ASALAM O ALEQUM,I have done my masters in HomeEconomics would like to be amember of your faculity ,ten years teaching experience in girls college Quetta (PAKISTAN/

  • tibgha mobin

    I have completed my BS(hons) in Genetics.I am living in Riyadh.I am looking for a job.I wish to be a member of Your Faculity.

  • Saira

    I have completed my masters in Public Administration and serving as lecturer at University level in Pakistan want to continue my career in KSA

  • maria khan

    salam

    I have done my masters in microbiology with an average score of 70% . i possess excellent written and verbal skills in english and a very good intense ability to teach as well. i was a resident of Saudi , Riyadh before since i had done my schooling there. I would like to join this esteemed university as a lecturer. please let me know where and how i can apply.
    Thanks and best wishes

  • SANA

    Asalam o alequm i have done masters in Physics, Bed would like to be a member of your facuilty.I have two years teaching experience at diffrent insitute of pakistan.

  • eram

    assalaamualaikum
    i am very glad to hear abt progress in saudi arabia for women regarding higher education. i am a bachelor of sciences wid mathematics as main subject , i would like to know can i persue further studies and work as a faculty member of this university?
    plz guide and let me know the procedure and total amount cost per annum
    thank you

  • Tibgha mobin

    I have done BS(honrs)in Genetics from Pakistan.I am looking for job in Riyadh.I wish to be a member of your faculity.I can teach almost all subjects related to Genetics.I am living in Riyadh.

  • Irum Faran

    I m from Pakistan.I am masters in english literature from international islamic university islamabad.i have also taken diploma in english language from NUML(national university of modern languages islamabad).furthermore i have a 10 years teaching experience( two years at intermidiate level and eight years i taught Ielts). i am deeply interested in providing my services in your prestigious institution.It would be an honour for me if you consider me to work with you. HOW CAN I APPLY

  • Faran Asim

    Assalam-o- alaikum
    Its a great pleasure to hear about the great step you have taken in educating women.I am from Pakistan and masters in history and Pakistan studies. For the last ten years i m teaching at intermidiate level. Currently i am acting as Head of Department. I am also a teachers’ trainer.I would like to apply my professional skills in this regard.looking forward for your reply.

  • afifa aisha rahmat

    assalam ali kum
    i m persuing ph.d in public addministration from aligarh university nd also selected in NET(National Eligibility Test in Lecturership)nd also goldmedlist in Post Gradutation so i want to serve ur insitute as a faculty member.i dont know how to apply.
    thanx
    allah hafiz

  • Dr.(Mrs.) Durdana Lateef

    My qualification is Ph.D (Mathematics) and would feel honour to be a part of faculty of this university. My husband is Ph.D. in Pharmacy (Pharmaceutics). Please guide us how to apply?
    Thanks and regard
    Dr.(Mrs.) Durdana Lateef

  • Bootul Fatima

    As’salam-u-alaikum…
    Iam B.E (Instrumentation) from Muffakham jah College of engineering & technology, Hyderabad, INDIA. I would like to join this university as a faculty member. kindly provide me the details of eligiblity for the post of lecturer.

    Thanks & looking forward for your Reply.

    Er. Bootul Fatima

  • Dr. Hanan Ibrahim

    This is an excellent initiative. However, to enforce a specific woman’s vision of the university, one that is both attentive to her needs and respectful of local cultural values and Islam, it is important to consider the establishment of a woman’s study programme. This is I believe is basic for a woman/girl oriented university. It also enables Muslim women have a say on the global cultural scene especially at a time where Islam is presented unfairly as oppressive of women. The university should be a pioneer in promoting and furnishing for a discourse that enables Muslim women to present themselves and their Islamic based discourse on women as added values to the academia’s current epistemology. For advancing the university’s cause, it is important to inscribe its women’s print in both form and content.

  • asra

    I have done my engineering in computer science (Graduated in 2009). i’m looking forward to work with your university as a teacher to teach mathematics. I have an experince of 1 year. Kindly provide the details to apply to teaching post.

    Thank you
    Engg.Asra

  • asim

    i would love to teach in this university double masters degree holder from england

  • fatimah

    asalama alaykum my name is fatima i am somali i live in australia i have one more year to go till i finish skool so i would like to know more about this universitiy cuz i am interested THANK U

  • Samadani

    Asslam o allaikum, my name is Mrs Samdani. I did my Masters(M.A Islamic Studies) from University of Karachi, Pakistan. I got job of Lecturer(Islamic Studies) in FG Colleges through FPSC( Federal Public Service Commission). Alhamdulillah doing well since last one year & will to get same job in Princess Nora University.
    Please let me know the Procedure to submit application

    OR

    How to get job in Nursary/Higher School in Princess Nora University Riyyadh.

    while my husband is working as a Electrical Engineer( installations MV Equipement) for the construction of same university.

  • zakia

    ASSALAM-O-ALAIKUM,
    I am interested in your greatest university , I would like to join your university for lecturer. I am holding BSc in Information Technology & also I am holding MBA in Information System. I have 5 year experience , lecture of BBA & BCA students.kindly provide me the details of eligibility for the post of lecturer.

    Thanks & looking forward for your Reply.

    zakia

  • israt

    I am israt from BANGLADESH.I complete my honours and masters degree from chittagong university Bangladesh,my study subject is biochemistry band molecular biology,i also complete my one year research in my department,now i want to drive my higher studies(phd),and i think this university give me best opportunity to carry my higher study as i am a women from a poor country.So it will be helpfull for me if you inform me details procedure.

  • israt

    I am israt from BANGLADESH,I complete my honours and masters program from chittagong university BANGLADESH,My study subject is biochemistry and molecular biology,now i want to carry my higher study in this university,So can you inform how to apply?

  • marium239

    i did my A level from saudi arabia and now want to study pharmacy in prince noura university and i want to know what is the procedure for admission.
    mariumshoaib

  • Fatima

    I have completed my schooling from International Indian School,Riyadh and have done my engineering in the field of Electronics and comminication (ECE) from India. I am looking forward to work with your University as a teacher/lecturer. I have an experince of 1 year. Kindly provide me the details to apply for teaching post.

    Jazakallah Khair,
    Fatima.

  • Syeda Rahmath Sultana

    IAM MASTERS IN ANALYTICAL CHEMISRY FROM OSMANIA UNIVERSITY . I WANTS TO WORK AS A LECTURER AND ALSO WANTS TO PURSUE RESEARCH. I HAD 9 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN TEACHING. PLSE LET ME KNOW HOW TO APPLY.

  • RAJWALI KHAN

    SIR HW ARE U I AM Msc PHYSICS NOW I WANT TO APPLY SCHOLLARSHIPE FOR MPHILL PIEASE TELL ME THE METHOD HOW I SEND MY DOCUMENTS

  • naseem rehman

    SALAM/……………….. Ihave compeleted my master in education from International Islamic university in pakistan. I have an experince of 1 year.kindly provide me the details to apply for teaching post

  • Rameez

    As’salam-u-alaikum… to all,

    please let me know how to apply for a job in computer teacher in these unv, have been completd MCA with 3 years in collage and1 year in saudi unv as a compter teacher
    if any one konws pls let me know
    jazk allahi khaire

  • Saleha Jamil Siddiqui

    ASSALAM-O-ALAIKUM,
    This is an excellent initiative and pleasure to learn about the new step you have taken in educating women. I am bi-lingual and am looking forward to be a member of Princess Noura University teaching team. I am holding BSc – Pre Medical. I have teaching experience in KSA.

    Thanks & looking forward for your Reply.

  • Farheen Anjum

    Salam Masnoona wa Ba’ad,
    This is no doubt a great news that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have started a women University in Saudi Arabia, may Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala reward to every one involved in this project male or female right from thinking, planning, and funding, and overall taking care of the project from its initial stage to now functioning stage. This is my belief that this project will remain as ‘ AL-BAQIYATUSSALIHAT ‘
    Congratulations to the men & women behind this First Women University, a nice gift to the Saudi Arabian women and others whoever comes to be benefited generation after generation, may Allah bless them all.Aameen,
    Mrs. Farheen Anjum, M.Sc Mathematics, Gold Medallist, (Ph.D) Hail University Saudi Arabia

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