Education and Skills

These are the top 10 universities in the Arab world

In THE’s ranking of the best Arab universities, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University tops the table for the second year running, achieving 101st place worldwide.

In THE’s ranking of the best Arab universities, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University tops the table for the second year running, achieving 101st place worldwide. Image: REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Stephen Hall
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  • The Times Higher Education’s annual list of the world’s top universities reveals that, in the Arab region, Saudi Arabia is streaking ahead.
  • Overall, Saudi Arabia claimed half of the top 10 Arab university rankings.
  • But the United Arab Emirates is also moving up the world rankings, with four higher education institutions on the rise.

The Times Higher Education’s (THE) annual ranking measures universities based on a range of criteria including teaching, research, society and international outlook. The comprehensive list for 2023 analyzed over 121 million citations across more than 15.5 million research publications and included survey responses from 40,000 scholars globally.

The top Arab universities

In THE’s ranking of the best Arab universities, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University tops the table for the second year running, achieving 101st place worldwide.

While in a measurement of the world’s most sustainable universities, by Times Higher Education, King Abdulaziz University achieved fourth place, with a top score for SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

Overall, Saudi Arabia claimed five of the top 10 Arab university rankings.

“The data makes clear that Saudi Arabia is a rising star in global higher education and the beacon of excellence in the Arab world,” Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education, told The National news website. “Not only has King Abdulaziz University risen dramatically to move within a whisker of the world top 100 to lead the entire Mena region, but other leading institutions have also made strong progress and Saudi Arabia’s overall representation in the World Rankings has increased - from 15 universities ranked last year, to 21 this year.“

The Kingdom’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals achieved second place. The university claims to be among the most selective in Saudi Arabia and accepts only 10% of all applicants, according to THE.

Qatar University claims third place. The institution’s latest novel research projects include a sustainable material suitable for agriculture in dry and harsh climates and a ‘mushroom-effect’ artificial coral reef.

King Saud University, in Saudi Arabia, achieved fourth place. It was the first university to be established in the country, originally named Riyadh University, in 1957. The university has a total of 18 libraries, two university hospitals and a mosque, according to THE.

The American University of Beirut, Lebanon, a new entry in the top 10, achieved tenth place amongst Arab universities.
The American University of Beirut, Lebanon, a new entry in the top 10, achieved tenth place amongst Arab universities. Image: The National/ Times Higher Education 2023.

United Arab Emirates rises up the ranks

The University of Sharjah is the United Arab Emirates’ top university, in 5th place amongst Arab higher education institutions overall, according to THE. The institution has long-term cooperation agreements and strategic alliances with 31 leading universities around the world.

United Arab Emirates University and Abu Dhabi University, also in the UAE, came 6th and 7th respectively.

“The UAE’s leading universities are rising up the World Rankings as part of an exciting and dynamic new renaissance for the Arab world, driving the transition to a new knowledge and innovation-based economy,” said Phil Baty.

“Of the six UAE universities included in the overall World Rankings, four are on the rise - led by the United Arab Emirates University and the University of Sharjah, which have both surged this year into the world top 300 list.

“They are closely followed by Abu Dhabi University, which entered the rankings this year straight into the world top 350.”

Saudi Arabia’s Alfaisal University and Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, achieved eighth and ninth place respectively, this year.

The American University of Beirut, Lebanon, a new entry in the top 10, achieved tenth place amongst Arab universities.

Egypt also increased its overall representation to 26 universities, up from 23, according to The National.

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