Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University

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Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University
جامعة الأميرة نورة بنت عبد الرحمن
PNU logo
Former names
Riyadh University for Women
Type Public university
Established 1970; renamed 2008[1]
Rector Huda bint Mohammad Al-Ameel[2]
Vice Rector Fawzia bint Mohammed Abalkhail
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 52,308[3]
Postgraduates 777
Location Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
24°50′46″N 46°43′12″E / 24.846°N 46.72°E / 24.846; 46.72Coordinates: 24°50′46″N 46°43′12″E / 24.846°N 46.72°E / 24.846; 46.72
(in English)

Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU; Arabic: جامعة الأميرة نورة بنت عبد الرحمن‎) is a public women’s university located in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. It is the largest university for women in the world and the largest one in Saudi Arabia.

Designed by Perkins & Wills Architects, part of Dar Group, it holds innovating design and technology, all while keeping in mind the complex characteristics of the Saudi culture.

The university offers diplomas, bachelor and postgraduate degrees. It has over 60,000 students in 34 colleges in the city of Riyadh and in the neighbouring cities, a preparatory year program for all first year undergraduate students, an Arabic Language Institute (for non-speakers of Arabic), a Deanship of Community Service and Continuous Education, and a Community College. It has more than 5000 academic and administrative staff.[4]

History and Name[edit]

The university first existed in 1970 as the first College of Education for women in the Kingdom. Within the following 25 years, there were 102 similar colleges in 72 cities around the country, accommodating 60,000 students. There were 6 colleges in the city of Riyadh alone in the fields of education, social service, science, arts, and home economics.

In 2004, the birth of the first all-women university in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was announced: Riyadh University for Women and unified all 6 of the original colleges in the city of Riyadh. Other colleges around the Kingdom were unified and expanded in their respected regions into independent universities.

In 2008, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud inaugurated the campus and changed the university’s name to “Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University” after Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman, the sister of the country’s first king and leader, King Abdulaziz.[5][6] Nourah in Arabic means "light."[6] With this launch was the building of the world's largest and most modern women's institution of higher education in a self-contained higher education city.

On June 12, 2011, the new campus was opened in an official ceremony by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, during which he said:

"Women carry a responsibility that is more than a duty, to maintain the stability of society and contribute to building the economy of the nation, and to represent the community and the nation to the highest standards, outside and inside the country. To be the caring mother, exemplary citizen and productive employee. Outside the nation, to be the ambassador of her country and community, and to represent well her religion, faith and our values."

Colleges and Departments[7][edit]

Health Colleges

Science Colleges

Humanities Colleges

The Deanship of Community Service and Continuous Education offers various diploma options. The Arabic Language Institute (for non-speakers of Arabic) offers grant scholarships to non-speakers of Arabic from different countries. The institute has over 350 students from more than 40 countries.

Preparatory Year Program (PYP):

To ensure quality and a smooth transition into university life, PNU students are required to enroll in a two-year preparatory program of necessary skills, such as:

Campus services and facilities[edit]

The campus was constructed in a record time of two years, supported by 75,000 construction workers and the latest building machinery and methodologies. It is 13 million square meters in size,[8] with a maximum capacity of 60,000 students. The campus has 600 high-tech, smart buildings, large-capacity student dormitories, various models of faculty residence units, and three spacious, state-of-the-art recreation centers. In addition, it has pre-schools, primary schools, intermediate and secondary schools. It also has an elegant central library, research centers, a university hospital, student support centers, sport facilities that students can use,[9] a convention center and an automated metro system by Hitachi Rail Italy.

Sustainable Design[edit]

  • Water recycling plant
  • Solar thermal plant
  • 4000 sq. meters of Solar Panels, which provide 16% of heating and 18% of air-conditioning needs

38 of the university’s buildings, totaling a million square meters, have been submitted for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating and the library has applied for the second highest LEED "Gold" rating.

Central Library[edit]

The library holds over 2 million books in both Arabic and English with a maximum capacity of 5 million, in addition to numerous journal subscriptions, government publications, dissertations, databases, and manuscripts.[3]

Research Centers[edit]

Social Research and Women's Studies

  • Social Science Research.
  • Women's Studies Research
  • Human and Social Development Research
  • Natural Sciences Research Center

Aljazeera Chair

Academic Societies Established

  • Saudi Society for Child Care.
  • Arabic Language Society.

Student Support Centers[edit]

  • Clubs and Student Councils
  • Meeting Rooms and Offices
  • Media and screening rooms
  • Restaurants and Cafes
  • Banquet Halls
  • Bookstore
  • Pharmacy
  • Supermarket
  • Bank

Convention center[edit]

  • 2 large halls
  • 2,700 seats (largest in the country)
  • 1,350 seats
  • 13 conference and meeting rooms.


Due to the physical size of the campus, an efficient means of transporting students needed to be developed. To this end, a 11.5 km automated guideway transit system, the Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University Automated People Mover (PNU-APM), was constructed. The network, built to light metro standards, opened in 2012 and has 4 lines and 14 stations.[10] It has 22 two car AnsaldoBreda Driverless Metro trains, each having a maximum capacity of up to 110 passengers and a maximum speed of 60 km/h.[11] The driverless technology used in the trains is the same as that of the Copenhagen Metro.[8][11]

International partnerships[edit]

Memberships in Regional and International Associations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Giant Nourah campus to be ready by end of next year" Arab News, 15 October 2010
  2. ^ Abdul Ghafour, P.K. (24 April 2011) "Huda to head Nourah university" Arab News
  3. ^ a b c "Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University" Archived 10 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Saudi Ministry of Higher Education Portal
  4. ^ "Self-learning projects by PNU students on display" Archived 27 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Arab News, 18 May 2011
  5. ^ Madawi Al-Rasheed (30 April 2013). A Most Masculine State: Gender, Politics and Religion in Saudi Arabia. Cambridge University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-521-76104-8. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Al Ghamdi, Mohamed (30 October 2008). "Light dawns on girls' education". Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  7. ^ University English web site Archived 16 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b Brewer, Georgina (16 March 2013). "Royal visit casts light on women's sheltered existence in Saudi Arabia". ITV. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  9. ^ ""Steps of the Devil" Denial of Women's and Girls' Rights to Sport in Saudi Arabia" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. February 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University gets license for automated on-campus metro". Middle East North Africa Financial Network (MENAFN). 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Andy Hellawell (21 August 2012). "Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University driverless metro opens". Railway Gazette International. 

External links[edit]