Saudi Arabia opens largest women’s university in the world
King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia opened on Sunday the largest women’s university campus in the world in a major move to boost women’s higher education in the Kingdom.
The SAR20 billion ($5.3-billion) new campus of Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) on the outskirts of the capital, Riyadh, was inaugurated in the presence of senior royal family members, ministers and foreign diplomats.
The university campus, spreading over eight million square meters (26 million feet), will host up to 50,000 students in its 15 departments.
It is also planned to be a car-free environment, operating a shuttle monorail train and electric buggies for internal transport, while solar panels stretched on the campus will reportedly generate 18 percent of the power needed for air-conditioning.
The campus also boasts a 700-bed hospital and accommodation facilities that could lodge 12,000 students.
“The new campus is considered the largest women-only university in the world,” Huda Al-Ameel, the newly appointed PNU president said, according to Arab News.
Ms. Al-Ameel said the huge campus was completed in a record time of less than three years on the instructions of King Abdullah.
“We are grateful to King Abdullah for this vital project, which will surely encourage PNU staff and students to exploit this state-of-the art facility to excel in education,” she said.
Munira Al-Abdan, vice president for studies and development, said PNU seeks to provide high quality academic education and skills for its students. “We have designed our academic programs to meet job market requirements,” she said.
“We provide our graduates with additional training courses to strengthen their competitive capabilities in the job market,” Ms. Abdan added.
She also said the university will be environment-friendly by promoting a paperless work policy and carrying out all its internal activities electronically.
The university’s library has about six million titles including reference books.
Women make up 58 percent of the total student population of 130,000 at seven universities in Saudi Arabia, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Saudi government devotes nearly 30 percent of its annual budget, or $40 billion, to education.
(Mustapha Ajbaili, an editor of Al Arabiya, can be reach at: Mustapha.email@example.com)