Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University

Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University
جامعة الأميرة نورة بنت عبد الرحمن
Former names
Riyadh University for Women (until 2008)[1]
TypePublic university
RectorDr. Inas bint Suleiman bin Mohammed Al-Issa[2]
Vice RectorFawzia bint Mohammed Abalkhail
Academic staff
Administrative staff
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
Colors  Turquoise (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 women's university in the world.

The university offers diplomas, bachelor and postgraduate degrees. It has 34 colleges in the city of Riyadh and in the neighbouring cities, 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 5,000 academic and administrative staff.[4]

History and name

The university was founded 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, primarily in the fields of education, social service, science, arts, and home economics. In 2004, the decision was made to unify all of the women's colleges in Riyadh, thus creating the first all-female university in the Kingdom. 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. The first rector was Princess Al Jawhara bint Fahd Al Saud.[7]

On 12 June 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."

In February 2017, the university was the host of the first-ever opera in Saudi Arabia. The show, "Antar and Alba", was produced by Opera Lebanon.[8]

Colleges and Departments

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.

In early 2018, the university became the first in the Kingdom to offer a driving school for women, following the allowance of King Salman to grant women the right to drive in the Kingdom. More than 50,000 female students are expected to take part.[9] Despite these advancements Saudi Arabia still has some of the worst rates of unemployment among women in the world[10]

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


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,[11] with a maximum capacity of 60,000 students. The campus has 600 high-tech smart buildings, large-capacity student residencies, 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, student-accessible sport facilities,[12] a convention center and an automated metro system by Hitachi Rail Italy.

Health and Wellness

Sports Facilities include a number of sports halls (basketball, volleyball, aerobatics, bicycles, etc.) as well as an olympic sized swimming pool. In 2016, the university signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the General Authority for Sports, aiming to increase participation in sports to 40% by 2030.[13]

Sustainable Design

  • 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.[citation needed]

Central Library

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

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

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

Convention center

  • 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, an 11.5 km automated guideway transit system, the Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman 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.[14] 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.[15] The driverless technology used in the trains is the same as that of the Copenhagen Metro.[11][15]

International partnerships

Memberships in Regional and International Associations

See also


  1. ^ a b "Giant Nourah campus to be ready by end of next year" Archived 12 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine Arab News, 15 October 2010
  2. ^ "Dr. Inas bint Suleiman bin Mohammed Al-Issa, director of Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University". 24 March 2019.
  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.
  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. ^ "Saudi women proceed with ambition and empowerment within the framework of Vision 2030". BNA. 26 April 2019. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  8. ^ "First opera in Saudi Arabia held at Riyadh university". 23 February 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  9. ^ Siobhan Downes (1 October 2018). "This Saudi university is opening a driving school for women". Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Royal visit reveals Saudi women's sheltered existence". ITV News. 16 March 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  11. ^ a b Brewer, Georgina (16 March 2013). "Royal visit casts light on women's sheltered existence in Saudi Arabia". ITV. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  12. ^ ""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.
  13. ^ Aisha Fareed (25 November 2016). "PNU, sports authority sign deal to promote women's sport in Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University gets license for automated on-campus metro". Middle East North Africa Financial Network (MENAFN). 5 September 2012. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  15. ^ a b Andy Hellawell (21 August 2012). "Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University driverless metro opens". Railway Gazette International.

External links

  • Official site in Arabic and in English
  • Aerial view and building photos
  • Photographs from
  • Dedication of the new campus by King Abdullah (video)
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