Top 10 Universities in the Arab Region 2018

Top 10 Universities in the Arab Region 2018

Sabrina Collier

Updated January 16, 2020 Updated January 16

Click here to view the 2019 version of this article, based on the QS Arab Region University Rankings 2019. 

Published today, the 2018 edition of the QS Arab Region University Rankings features 160 of the region’s most prestigious universities, extended from 100 last year. The ranking is based on a methodology which assesses each university’s reputations among employers and academics, web impact, research impact and more.

Read on for an overview of the 10 highest-ranked universities in the Arab region, including a look at their subject strengths (based on the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject).

1. American University of Beirut (AUB)

American University of Beirut

Location: Lebanon

Overtaking King Fahd University to be the highest-ranked university in the Arab region this year, American University of Beirut (AUB) is also ranked 235th in the latest QS World University Rankings®. AUB is a private, secular university which teaches all courses in English and currently has around 8,800 students enrolled. Ranked first in the region for the employer reputation indicator, AUB offers generous financial aid, with more than 75% of applicants for financial aid receiving it. AUB has more than 130 undergraduate/graduate programs in seven faculties, and achieves positions in the top 200 of the QS World University Rankings by Subject for archaeology and philosophy.

2. King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM)

King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM)

Location: Saudi Arabia

Down one place, but still the highest-ranked university from Saudi Arabia, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) receives top five scores for employer reputation, faculty/student ratio and citations per faculty. KFUPM was founded in 1963 in Dhahran, a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry. It science and engineering programs are highly regarded, and KFUPM is one of the most selective universities in Saudi Arabia. According to the latest rankings by subject, KFUPM is ranked in the global top 200 for the broad subject area of engineering and technology, and also achieves a top-50 position for mineral & mining engineering.

3. King Saud University (KSU)

King Saud University

Location: Saudi Arabia

Retaining its position of third in the Arab region, King Saud University (KSU) is ranked first in the entire region for web impact, showing it has a strong commitment to international engagement and communication. KSU also achieves top five scores for academic reputation, faculty/student ratio and citations per faculty. Founded in 1957, KSU is located in the capital city of Riyadh and unlike KFUPM accepts both men and women. Of the 14 subjects KSU is internationally ranked for, it achieves its strongest positions for mechanical engineering, agriculture and pharmacy (top 150).

4. King Abdulaziz University (KAU)

King Abdulaziz University

Location: Saudi Arabia

The last of three top universities in Saudi Arabia to make the top five, King Abdulaziz University (KAU) is also ranked joint 267th in the latest World University Rankings, up 16 places from last year. Established in 1967 in Jeddah and named after the founder of Saudi Arabia, KAU has separate campuses for men and women and enrolls around 82,000 students. KAU is ranked for 12 subjects in the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject, achieving its highest positions for chemical engineering and mathematics.

5. United Arab Emirates University

Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Location: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Up one place this year, United Arab Emirates University also improved its position in the overall World University Rankings this year, climbing to 390th. It’s the oldest university in the UAE, but nonetheless quite young, established in 1976 by the country’s founder, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It now has around 13,800 students, more than 80% of whom are female. United Arab Emirates University boasts the largest number of electronic resources in the Arab world, with more than 170,000 e-books. It’s also ranked within the global top 500 for mechanical engineering and medicine.

6. American University in Cairo

American University in Cairo

Location: Egypt

Ranked sixth in the Arab Region this year, the American University in Cairo (AUC) achieves scores in the top five for both employer and academic reputation, and is also ranked joint 395th in the main World University Rankings. Established in 1919, the university’s language of instruction is English, and it’s liberal arts approach allows students to study across disciplines. According to the latest rankings by subject, AUC was featured in the global top 100 for development studies and the top 250 for modern languages.

7. Qatar University

Qatar University

Location: Qatar

Climbing two places to now rank seventh among the top universities in the Arab region this year, Qatar University also improved its position in the World University Rankings, now placing joint 349th – 44 places higher than last year. Qatar University is the oldest and largest university in the country, founded in 1973 and currently educating around 14,000 students, around 35% of whom are expatriates. The university offers both English and Arabic-taught programs and boasts a strong research infrastructure, with laboratories, technical equipment, a large library which stores a collection of rare manuscripts, and even an ocean vessel.

8. American University of Sharjah

American University of Sharjah

Location: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The American University of Sharjah is ranked eighth in the Arab Region in 2018, and achieves a very high score (second in the region) for the international students indicator, thanks to a student body of 6,000 from more than 99 countries. It’s also ranked fourth for its proportion if international faculty members. The university is independent and not-for-profit, and, like the other American universities in this list, conducts all teaching in English. American University of Sharjah is currently ranked within the top 350 universities to study business & management and mechanical engineering.

9. University of Jordan

University of Jordan

Location: Jordan

Down one place this year, the University of Jordan, also ranked in the 551-600 range of the main rankings, is the oldest and largest university in Jordan. It was established in 1962 in capital city Amman and has more than 38,000 students. It achieves fifth place for employer reputation, showing that its graduates are highly regarded. The university maintains a large number of international partnerships and agreements, mostly for student exchange programs with universities such as Vanderbilt University in the US and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

10. Sultan Qaboos University

Sultan Qaboos University

Location: Oman

Up one place this year to overtake Cairo University as the 10th highest-ranked university in the Arab region, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) is also ranked 451-460 in the World University Rankings. One of the youngest Arab universities on this list, SQU was established in 1986 in capital city Muscat, and is the only public university in the country. Its campus, set on a valley below the foothills of the Oman Mountains, boasts a beautiful range of traditional Omani and Islamic architecture, and was built on an axis in the valley with one end aligned toward Mecca.

Image credit: Abdulrahman Y. idlbi (Flickr)

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This article was originally published in October 2017 . It was last updated in January 2020

Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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