King Saud University

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King Saud University
جامعة الملك سعود
Former names
Riyadh University
Mottoاقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ
"Read! In the name of your Lord Who created" [Qur'an, C:96. V:1]
EndowmentUS $2.7 billion
PresidentBadran A. O. Al Omar
Administrative staff
Students55,000 (as of 26 March 2015)[1]
24°43′19″N 46°37′37″E / 24.722°N 46.627°E / 24.722; 46.627Coordinates: 24°43′19″N 46°37′37″E / 24.722°N 46.627°E / 24.722; 46.627
CampusUrban, enclosed 2,224 acres (900 ha) (9 km²)
LanguageEnglish, Arabic
Newspaperرسالة الجامعة

King Saud University (KSU, Arabic: جامعة الملك سعود‎) is a public university in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, founded in 1957 by King Saud bin Abdulaziz as Riyadh University, as the first university in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.[2] The university was created to meet the shortage of skilled workers in Saudi Arabia. It was renamed King Saud University in 1982.[3]

The student body of KSU today consists of 40,000 male and female students, 7% of which are international.[4] The female students have their own disciplinary panel,[5] and there is a center supervising the progress of female students, either personally by female faculty members or by male faculty members via a closed television network.[6] The university offers courses in the natural sciences, the humanities, and professional studies, and many courses are tuition-free.[7] The medium of instruction in undergraduate programs is English and Arabic depending on the chosen major. Among Arab universities, its medical programs are highly regarded.


King Saud in 1957

Establishing Saudi Arabia's first university was a response to the educational and professional needs of a young nation. King Abdulaziz became king in 1932, and began laying the foundations for modernizing his country and establishing an educational system. In 1953 King Saud, the eldest son of Abdulaziz, acceded to the throne upon his father's death, and instituted the Council of Ministers and the Ministry Education.

Prince Fahd, who eventually became the Saudi King, was the first minister of education. Following the first session of the Council of Ministers, he announced that the first Saudi University would be established as a house of culture and sciences. Prince Fahd said that he was committed to promoting higher education.

In 1957, according to the dictates of the Royal Decree No. 17, Prince Fahd announced the founding of King Saud University, established in order to, "Disseminate and promote knowledge in Our Kingdom for widening the base of scientific and literary study, and for keeping abreast with other nations in the arts and sciences and for contributing with them discovery and invention, in addition to reviving Islamic civilization and articulate its benefits and glories, along with its ambitions to nurture the young virtuously and to guarantee their healthy minds and ethics."

Students began studying at the College of Arts in the 1957-58 academic year. Since then KSU developed further according to the needs of the nation.

Between 1958 and 1960 the College of Sciences, the College of Business (now the College of Public Administration) and the College of Pharmacy were established.[8]

Royal Decree no. 112 of 1961 recognized that King Saud University was an independent legal entity, with a budget of its own, responsible for higher education, promoting scholarly research, and advancement of sciences and arts in the country. Naming the Minister of Education as the President of the university, the Statute ordered that the University have a Vice President and Secretary General, and that each college and institute have a Dean, Vice Dean, and a council.[9]

In 1965 the College of Agriculture was established and KSU assumed control over the Colleges of Engineering and Education, formerly under the Ministry of Education in cooperation with UNESCO.[10]

Riyadh University[edit]

Royal Decree no M/11 of 1967 enforced the Statute of the University of Riyadh (currently King Saud University), rescinding all earlier statutes, bylaws, and regulations. Of the main landmarks of the new Statute is the creation of the Higher Council of the University as one of its administrative powers. The membership of the new council includes two active or inactive university Presidents, two faculty members who had assumed such positions outside the country, or two native leading intellectuals.

The Higher Council of the University is the dominant power over the university affairs: it draws out policies, issues decisions to implement and achieve the objectives of the university (especially those pertaining to the creation of new colleges and departments), proposes budgets, and systems of faculty salaries, annuities, and financial awards.

Royal Decree no M/6 of 1972 superseded the Statute of 1967. With the new Statute, the membership of the Higher Council of the University includes five active or inactive university Presidents, or native leading intellectuals. To the council are also added the University Secretary General and two other non-university members. Again, the Statute dictates the creation of an Academic Council overlooking scholarly research and studies. The Higher Council of the University issues the bylaws governing the number of the Academic Council's members, responsibilities, and powers.

These decrees were issued in response to the growing and widening needs of the university as the establishment of new colleges started. Between 1958 and 1960, three colleges were established: the College of Sciences, College of Business (now the College of Public Administration) and the College of Pharmacy. In 1961/1962 women were first admitted into the College of Arts and the College of Public Administration.

Five years later the College of Agriculture was established. In the same year the College of Engineering and College of Education, having been under the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the UNESCO, were annexed to the University. A year later (1969/1970) the College of Medicine opened. In 1974/1975 the Arabic Language Institute was inaugurated to serve non-Arabic speakers. At this time deanships of Admission and Registration, Students Affairs, Libraries were also established. Again, a year later (1976) the College of Dentistry and the College of Applied Medical Sciences were added to the Riyadh campus, while launching at the same time the Abha-based campus with the College of Education. In 1977, the Graduate College assumed its office in supervising and organizing all graduate programs in the various departments of the University.

At Abha, the College of Medicine was established according to Royal Order no. 3/M/380 of 1979 and was added to the University according to Royal Directive no. 15128 of 29 June 1400H. Formal study there started in the academic year of 1980/1981.

In 1980 another branch of the University opened at Qassim with three colleges: Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, and Economics and Administration. Formal study started in 1980/1981 academic year.[11]

King Saud University[edit]

King Saud University entrance

In 1981, celebrating its 25th anniversary, the University of Riyadh went back to its original name of King Saud University at the orders of King Khalid bin Abdulaziz. In that year, too, the Deanship of Community Service and Continuing Education replaced the Center for Community Service, and King Khalid University Hospital (KKUH) was formally opened.[9]

Two years later (1983) two other colleges were created: the College of Computer and Information Science Sciences and the College of Architecture and Planning.[12] Later, in 1990, the Institute of Languages and Translation was established to be turned four years later into the full-fledged College of Languages and Translation.[13]

In 1993, the Royal ratification of the System of the Council of Higher Education and Universities was issued dictating that each university form its own Council which attends to its academic, administrative, and financial affairs, and carries out its general policy.

In 1996, the Council of Higher Education issued its decision no. 1282/A approving the creation of the Center for Consulting and Research which was renamed King Abdullah Center for Consulting and Research.

In 1997, Royal Decree no. 33 dictated the creation of a King Saud University Community College in Jazan, as well as the establishment of the College of Sciences at the Qassim campus.[9]

In 1998, Royal Order no. 7/78/M of 11 March 1419 decreed that King Khalid University be created in the south. The branches of Imam University and of King Saud University consequently formed the new university. In the same year, after the issuance of the unified regulations for Graduate Studies at Saudi universities, the Graduate College became the Deanship of Graduate Studies, and the Deanship of Academic Research was established in accordance with the dictates of the System of Academic Research issued that year.[14]

In 2000, the College of Medicine was established at the Qassim campus, and the Deanship of Community Service and Continuing Education was turned into the College of Applied Studies and Community Service.[15]

In 2001, the Community College in Riyadh was inaugurated according to the Cabinet Council no. 73.[16] During the academic year of 2002/2003 the College of Science at Al-Jouf was established.[17] That same year the College of Engineering was opened at the Qassim campus, and the creation of community colleges at Al-Majma’ah, Al-Aflaj, and Al-Qurayat was approved.[18]

Beginning with the academic year 2003/2004 the Qassim campus became an independent university. On 2003, the Council of Higher Education approved the promotion of the Department of Nursing, College of Applied Medical Sciences, into the College of Nursing.[11]

Former Rectors[edit]

The following individuals have served as the rectors of the university since its inception:[19]

Rectors From Up To
Abdulwahab Mohammed Azzam 1957 1959
Sheikh Nasser Al Manqour 1959 1960
Abdulaziz bin Muhammad Al Khwaiter 1961 1971
Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Fadda 1971 1979
Mansour bin Ibrahim Al Turki 1979 1990
Ahmad bin Muhammad Al Dhubaib 1990 1995
Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Faisal 1995 2007
Abdullah Al Othman 2007 2012
Badran Al Omar 2012 present


The school's current main campus was designed by HOK Architects, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Mechanical and Electrical systems were designed by Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. New York City, New York. The facility was constructed in the 1980s by Blount International, a construction firm led by Winton M. Blount headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, after the firm was awarded the world's then-largest fixed-price contract in history for the sum of approximately $5 billion.[11]


King Saud University has a total of eighteen libraries, making up the main nerve of the academic and learning disciplines of the university. At the time of its transition into its current location, the university added the collections of nine of its libraries to the main library, thereby forming the central library. Later renamed King Salman Central library, it now enjoys seven branch libraries. Ideally housed in its seven floor building, with an area of 51400 square meters and more than 4000 reading seats, the central library occupies a central location among colleges and facilities, providing students, faculties, employees and other members of the community easy access to its location and holdings. Its collections include books, periodicals, manuscripts, government publications, academic theses, dissertations, press clippings, audio-visual and electronic media. The Libraries Deanship launched this site to help Internet surfers and interested individuals gain access to catalogs, holding locations, galleries, and electronic databases, along with other different facilities.[20]

King Abdulaziz University Hospital[edit]

The first university Hospital was King Abdulaziz University Hospital which was founded in 1956 but only got affiliated to the college in 1976. This facility now specializes in ENT and ophthalmology. These two departments are among the largest in the Middle East in these specialties. They host skilled physicians in all subspecialties of ENT and ophthalmology as well as world class researchers. In addition, it contains some general medical and pediatric services as well as the university diabetes center. All care is free of charge for all King Saud University staff and students. The hospital provides primary and secondary care services for Saudi patients from Northern Riyadh area. It also provides tertiary care services to all Saudi citizens on referral basis.

King Khalid University Hospital[edit]

In 1982, a dedicated university hospital was opened and was named King Khalid University Hospital. This facility is an 850-bed facility with all general and subspecialty medical services. It contains a special outpatient building, more than 20 operating rooms, and a fully equipped and staffed laboratory, radiology, and pharmacy services in addition to all other supporting services. The hospital provides primary and secondary care services for Saudi patients from Northern Riyadh area. It also provides tertiary care services to all Saudi citizens on referral bases. All care is free of charge for all King Saud University staff and students.

The Palm Mosque, (Jama’a Al-Naqheel)[edit]

The Palm Mosque, (Jama’a Al-Nakheel)

In 1982, Dr. Basil Al Bayati won the 1st prize in the King Saud Competition to build the main mosque for the university. His design incorporated extensively the motif of the palm trunk, as used in the very first Mosque of the Prophet in Medina. It was highly praised and was even claimed to "mark the beginning of a new era, a new revival in Islamic architecture."[21] The interior calligraphy above the doors and in the mihrab was done by Ghani Alani,[22] the last of the Baghdad School of Calligraphy. He was a student of Hashem al-Khattat.[23] Ghani Alani taught Dr. Bayati whilst at the College of Engineering in Baghdad. The building was also nominated for the 1992 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

University Entrance Gate (Faith & Knowledge)[edit]

King Saud University Entrance Gate by Basil Al Bayati

As well as designing the mosque, Dr. Basil Al Bayati also designed the entrance gates to the university which are based upon the theme of faith and knowledge; two pillars of Islam that must be taken together, "Knowledge cannot do without faith nor can faith ignore knowledge for Islam calls always for faith and knowledge to run in parallel."[24] "The design consists of two books representing knowledge and faith. They have been so placed so that their pages are interlocked thus showing the close connection between faith and knowledge. Verses from the Quran on faith and knowledge are written in script on the cover of each book."[25]

Research Centers[edit]

  • Center of Excellence for Research in Engineering Materials
  • Faculty of Pharmacy Research Center
  • Faculty of Engineering Research Center
  • Faculty of Food and Agriculture Sciences Research Center
  • Faculty of Science Research Center
  • Faculty of Arts Research Center
  • Faculty of Languages and Translation Research Center
  • Faculty of Education Research Center
  • Faculty of Administration Science Research center
  • Faculty of Medicine Research Center
  • Faculty of Computer Science and Information Research Center
  • Faculty of Applied Medical Science Research Center
  • Faculty of Architecture and Planning Research Center
  • The Research Center of the Science and Medical studies Departments
  • Research Center for University Studies in Aleeshah
  • Research Center for University Studies in library
  • Research Chairs Program


The university offers a broad range of undergraduate courses in the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities and professional studies. Tuition is completely free and generous scholarships are available for Saudi and international students. The medium of instruction in undergraduate programs is English and Arabic. Applicants are required to pass an Arabic examination if they are from a non-Arabic speaking country. English language support at all levels is provided by the Languages Unit.


University rankings
ARWU World[26] 101-150 (2018)
THE World[28] 501-600 (2018)
USNWR World[29] 377 (2018)
QS World[27] 256 (2019)
Times Asia[30] 59 (2018)
USNWR Arab Region[31] 1 (2018)
QS Arab Region[32] 3 (2018)


List of colleges[edit]

  • Preparatory Year Program[33]
Science Colleges
Health Colleges
Humanities Colleges
  • College of Arts,
  • College of Education,
  • College of Law and Political Science,
  • College of Languages and Translation,
  • College of Tourism & Archaeology,
  • Arabic Language Institute,
  • College of Teaching
  • College of Physical Education & Sports
Community Colleges
  • College of Applied Studies and Community Service,
  • Community College in Riyadh

College of Medicine[edit]

College of Medicine

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia witnesses exceptional progress in many fields such as health and science. The King Saud University College of Medicine was established in 1967 during the reign of King Faisal. Actual studies began in 1969. The choice of members for the Teaching Board and the supervision of exams until 1978 were done cooperatively between the faculty and the University of London. In 1974/1975, the College opened a special department for female students and incorporated the Ministry of Health's Prince ts name was changed to King Abdulaziz University Hospital to be utilized for training male and female students in the clinical stage.[46] At the 25th anniversary of inauguration of King Saud University 1981, the building of College of Medicine and King Khalid University Hospital were inaugurated for teaching and health services. The College has also made agreements with different universities in America, Canada and U.K. to support this Academic Board in the College and to train graduate Saudi doctors, as well as to provide preparation for their higher studies and specialization in different medical disciplines.[47][48]

College of Science[edit]

The College of Science was established in 1958, one year after the founding of King Saud University. In the beginning, the College had few students and a small number of lectures halls and laboratories. In keeping with the growth of the university at large, the College has witnessed considerable progress in many respects. The number of departments has increased, laboratories have improved, and the College now attracts a large number of students.As of today, the following bachelor's degrees are offered in the college of science: Statistics, Operations Research, Geology, Geophysics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Zoology, Botany, Microbiology, Mathematics, Financial Mathematics, Physics.

College of Engineering[edit]

The College of Engineering was established as a joint project between the Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and UNESCO in November 1962. This project lasted until 1969 when the College of Engineering became an official part of King Saud University.

The college started with three departments: the department of civil engineering (CE), the department of electrical engineering (EE), and the department of mechanical engineering (ME). In 1968, the department of architecture was established and it became a college in 1984 under the name the College of Architecture and Planning.

In 1974 two departments were established: the department of chemical engineering (CHE) and the department of petroleum engineering (PGE). In 1988 surveying engineering (SE) was also established as a program in the department of civil engineering(CE). In 1982, the program of industrial engineering was established in the department of mechanical engineering. Later on the program became the department of industrial engineering (IE) in 2002. In sum, there are now seven departments offering the Bachelor of Science Degree in the following fields;

The number of students of the college has risen from 17 in 1962 to more than 4000 students in 2005. The Faculty members have similarly grown in number from 4 to 210 (including lecturers and teaching assistants) within the same time span.

College of Architecture and Planning

The College of Architecture and Planning has been initially started as a department in the College of Engineering in 1968. It was extended as a college in 1984 which included the other department "Urban Planning".

Student life[edit]

Foreign students[edit]

The university also offers foreign students the opportunity to enroll through the Vice Rectorate for Knowledge Exchange and Technology Transfer in the fields of engineering, sciences, medicine, and arts.

Student aid and housing[edit]

The university offers science and health major students 990 SR/month (264 $), and humanities students 840 SR/month (224 $), a 75% discount on foreign books, and fully furnished residences at the university housing/hostels complex, food within the university restaurant, free medical treatment, and full return tickets to their home country.

2014 students death[edit]

In 2014, a student who suffered from a heart attack died on campus. The Saudi news outlet Okaz claimed that the campus' male ER staff was not allowed for more than an hour to enter the women-only campus where the patient was waiting, which subsequently caused her death, a story that created an outrage on campus and on social networks. Badran Al-Omar, the rector of the university, stated the opposite, assuring that the paramedics were allowed in the premises as soon as they arrived on site, and that the patient was treated with the best of care. However, the campus' paramedics failed to revive her and called for help from a local hospital who brought her to a care center nearby, stretching the total time of intervention to almost 2 hours.[49][50]

Notable programs[edit]

  • Prince Sultan International Program for Research Scholarships.
  • King Abdullah Institute for Nanotechnology.[51]
  • Prince Nayef Program for Intellectual Security Studies.
  • Research Chairs Program.
  • The King Salman Entrepreneurhsip Institute.
  • Riyadh Techno Valley Program.
  • Nobel Laureates Program.
  • Centers for Research Excellence Programs.
  • ALUMNI programs.
  • Intellectual Property Rights Programs.
  • Research Chair in Laser Diagnosis of Cancers Dr. Vadivel Masilamani
  • Knowledge Society Program.
  • Riyadh Knowledge Corridor Program.

Riyadh Technology Valley[edit]

The Riyadh Techno Valley, is one of the contributions of King Saud University in building partnership with the public and private sectors in the area of knowledge economics. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has adopted a long term economic strategy that shifts its focus to develop a knowledge-based economy. King Saud University (KSU) is seeking to play a full part in this strategy through the development of a substantial science park, "Riyadh Techno Valley - King Saud University (RTV- KSU)", on its Riyadh campus. Through this project, KSU aims to satisfy the demands of the knowledge-based industries, and to commercialize its research outcomes, in addition to enhancing the research environment and encouraging researchers and graduates to participate in the incubation program and to establish spin-off knowledge-based companies. The university is currently focusing its research on polymers, catalytic and bio technology pharmaceuticals.[52]

Notable faculty[edit]

  • Saad Albazei, Professor of English and Comparative Literature
  • Mubarak Alhammad, Supervisor of PSU colleges in Wadi Ad-Dawasir.
  • Mujahid Kamran, he was an associate professor at King Saud University from 2001–2004.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]