The Best Universities in the Arab World

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What’s the best-ranked Arab university? King Abdulaziz University comes atop the 2021 QS and THE Rankings. It was established in 1967 as a private university in the Hijazi Red Sea city of Jeddah. In 1974, it was converted into a public one. Interestingly, students there receive free education and housing. 

The university has a comprehensive learning program across faculties, including the arts and humanities, science and technology, and medicine. It also offers some unique courses such as marine science, meteorology and astronomy.

What are the top 10 Arab universities?

The recently released QS World University Rankings: Arab Region 2021 features 160 of the best higher education institutions in the Arab region.

First published in 2014, the Arab Region rankings are developed using a methodology taking into account 10 different factors, including academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty/student ratio and the school’s international research network.

Read on for more information on the top 10 universities in the Arab region and view the full results of the QS World University Rankings: Arab Region 2021 here.


QS World University Rankings: Arab Region 2021





King Abdul Aziz University (KAU)

Saudi Arabia


American University of Beirut (AUB)



Qatar University



King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

Saudi Arabia


United Arab Emirates University

United Arab Emirates


King Saud University (KSU)

Saudi Arabia


American University of Sharjah



Sultan Qaboos University



Khalifa University



University of Jordan


10. University of Jordan (Jordan) 

Kicking off the Arab Region rankings this year is the University of Jordan in 10th place. The school’s teaching is grounded in strong research culture and the university scores well across a range of indicators, particularly its web impact and employer reputation indicators. 

Graduates from the University of Jordan are seen as extremely employable by nearby employers and its performance in the employer reputation indicator reflects this.


9. Khalifa University (UAE) 


Up three places and entering the top 10 this year is Khalifa University, in ninth place. The university was established in 2007 and expanded in 2017 through the merger of KU with the Petroleum Institute and Masdar Institute. 

The university scores exceptionally well in indicators related to its faculty, earning perfect scores in the faculty/student ratio and the papers per faculty indicators. The school also has a high proportion of international faculty members and staff with PhDs.


8. Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) 


Maintaining its eighth-place position in the top Arab university rankings this year is Sultan Qaboos University. Situated in a valley beneath the Oman mountains, it is the only public university in the country and ranks joint 375th in the QS World University Rankings 2021.  

The university scores well across a range of indicators. It ranks sixth in the Arab region for its international research network, an indication of the diversity of the school’s research collaborations with other institutions around the world.


7. American University of Sharjah (UAE) 

 For another year in a row, the American University of Sharjah ranks in seventh place in the Arab region rankings and joint 348th in the world university rankings.

The school has over 5,500 students of over 93 nationalities and earns perfect scores in the international/faculty ratio and the proportion of international students: a reflection of the international diversity of the school’s learning environment. All courses at AUS are taught in English.


6. King Saud University (KSU) (Saudi Arabia)


In sixth place in the Arab region is King Saud University (KSU), earning an almost perfect score in the academic reputation indicator. Named after the founder of Saudi Arabia, KSU was established in 1957 and was Saudi Arabia’s first university.

With a perfect score in the academic reputation indicator and a high proportion of staff with PhDs, KSU is widely known for its academic excellence. The school also offers free tuition and generous scholarships for both Saudi and international students. 


5. United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) (UAE) 


Entering the top five, we start with United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), holding on to its fifth-place position in the Arab region and ranking 284th in the world university rankings.

Founded in 1976, UAEU offers more than 50 undergraduate programs that have been developed in partnership with employers. For this reason, the university performs extremely well in the employer reputation indicator this year, ranking fifth in the Arab region. 


4. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (Saudi Arabia)


King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals places fourth after dropping one place in the 2021 Arab region rankings. The university earns its highest ranking in the papers per faculty indicator, placing third in the Arab region – a reflection of the high academic output of the university.

King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals has developed advanced training in the fields of science, engineering, and management to promote leadership and service in the Kingdom's petroleum and mineral industries.


3. Qatar University (Qatar) 


Overtaking King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals this year is Qatar University, entering the top three universities in the Arab region in 2021.

Qatar University has a particularly high proportion of staff with a PhD. It also scores well in the international research network indicator, showing the school’s strong international outlook. The university boasts a vibrant research culture, placing research and international collaboration the core of its teaching. 


2. American University of Beirut (AUB) (Lebanon)


With another year in second place, we have the American University of Beirut (AUB). AUB is located in a 64-acre urban campus in the center of Beirut. Its students benefit from being close to the city, making it easy to find jobs and internships, and the university’s leafy surroundings.

AUB earns a perfect score for the employer reputation indicator, showing that the university is extremely respected amongst graduate employers.


1. King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) (Saudi Arabia) 


For another year in a row, King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia bags the top spot for the best university in the Arab region. The university earns a perfect score the citations per paper indicator and the international research network indicator – a reflection of the university’s success in its published work and its international openness.

King Abdul Aziz University was founded in 1967 and since then has witnessed tremendous quantitative and qualitative progress in terms of enrolment and diversity of academic programs. It currently ranks 143rd in the world.