Situated in Jeddah, the Kingdom's major Red Sea port and a vast commercial metropolis in the Hijaz region of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz University (KAAU) is rightly proud of its repution for educating the citizens of today to be the scientists of tomorrow. It had a modest start in 1967, when it admitted its first students - 68 men and 30 women - as a private university. Four years later, following a request submitted by the University Founding Committee, the government assumed full supervision of its administration and educational activities. Today, the university has a total enrollment of 42,000, of which 25,378 are male students and 16,622 female. Named after the founder of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the university has more than 100 specialized departments.
Part of the Jeddah campus, which spreads over more than 400 acres.
The main campus of KAAU in Jeddah covers an area of about 400 acres. It is renowned for its Colleges of Earth Sciences and Marine Sciences. The other Colleges are Engineering, Science, Metereology, Medicine and Allied Sciences, Dentistry, Economy and Administration, and Arts and the Humanities. There is also a branch of KAAU in Madinah, which houses the College of Education. Female students have their own campus, with laboratories, facilities and activities. Although both campuses share similar fields of study, each has specialties of its own. KAAU has been a pioneer in the provision of university education for women.
|Allah is the light
Of the heavens and the earth,
The parable of His light
Is as if there were a niche
And within it a lamp:
The lamp enclosed in glass:
The glass as it were
A brilliant star:
Lit from a blessed tree,
An olive, neither of the east
Nore of the west,
Whose oil is well-nigh
Though fire scarce touched it:
Light upon light!
Allah doth guide
Whom He ill
To his light:
Allah doth set forth parables
for men: and Allah
Doth know all things.
Holy Qur 'an, Surah 24:35
Wording on the sculpture, left, on the campus of the King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah
The university's faculty and staff take particular pride in the manner that the university has always responded to the needs of the community. It now has centers for educational technology and instructional media, English language, research and development, medical research, and research in Islamic economics. It is also known for its Technical Arabization Center which aims to harness the technical potential of Arabic as a medium of engineering instruction. Among KAAU's specialized organs, the Scientific Council is responsible for formulating the university's general policy on scientific research, authorship, translation and publication; proposing the educational philosophy to be adopted by the university; making rules and regulations concerning scientific research; recommending the establishment of scientific centers; and convening conferences, seminars and workshops.
One of KAAU's major research resources is its library system comprising the Central Library and 11 departmental libraries. The libraries house a collection of more than one million items, most notably, the Two Holy Mosques Collection, and the Red Sea Collection, in addition to a great many first editions, rare books and manuscripts. The library system subscribes to around 5,000 periodicals, including 534 Arabic journals.
The Educational Techno-logy and Instructional Media Center, in addition to its regular duties supplementing the teaching process, operates a closed-circuit television system to transmit lectures to the various colleges and campuses.
The English Language Center, in existence since 1975 but operating as a separate entity since 1984, provides courses for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in accordance with the requirements of various colleges. Special courses are offered for those who intend to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in order to study in the United States, as well as for doctors sitting for the Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) examination for accreditation in the United Kingdom.
The Research and Development Center fosters scholarly research and case studies in administration, economics and accounting, with special emphasis on Islamic contributions in these fields.
KAAU emphasizes Islamic Economics as a distinct field of study. The Center for Research in Islamic Economics has a specialized library housing scholarly works on Islamic Economics in various languages, and publishes the bilingual (Arabic and English) "Journal of Research in Islamic Economics." Established in 1976, it aims to spread an awareness of economic thought and considerations based on Islamic principles. One aspect of its activities is cooperation with banking institutions for the purpose of exchanging and obtaining expertise and information through visiting lecturers, so as to widen the base of scientific research and provide students with a practical application of what they learn of the theory of Islamic economics.
The aim of the much-acclaimed Technical Arabization Center is to participate in the development of the Arabic language as a medium of engineering instruction. So far, it has produced several Arabic engineering textbooks, both original works and translations.
With a view to promoting and coordinating research activities within the university, a University Research Committee has been created to supervise and monitor research projects funded by KAAU. The Committee has evolved procedures for periodic review of progress in ongoing research projects, and methods of assessment of the work completed. It also provides research grants for such projects.
The Scientific Publishing Center was set up in 1985 to produce textbooks and other printed material to promote research activities by the academic staff. The center also prepares manuscripts for printing, and operates a modern press capable of printing all university publications.
The Center for Teaching and Learning Development, set up in 1987, is responsible for improving the quality of teaching and research of academic departments, and helping students to develop sound learning skills. An External Studies Program provides university education for the increasing number of students, who, for one reason or other, could not complete their tertiary level education.
The Deanship of External Studies offers courses leading to bachelor's degrees in Arabic Language and Islamic Studies, Administration, Sociology, and English Language. Since external students are drawn from all parts of the Kingdom, examination centers are usually set up in a number of different cities. The Deanship of Students Affairs sponsors extracurricular activities including social, cultural, athletic and sports competitions. The university's sports complex includes squash courts, a swimming pool, indoor games facilities and various means of exercise. There is also a soccer stadium and an equestrian club.
As with all universities in Saudi Arabia, no tuition fees are charged, and full-time undergraduate students are granted a monthly stipend. In addition, there is financial aid for those students who need it, in the form of research scholarships, part-time employment, loans, awards, allowances, and remuneration for academic excellence. Free accommodation is available and, for married students, housing grants are offered.
Graduate programs leading to master's and doctorate degrees started in 1977 in the College of Chemistry, which since then has also been teaching a wide range of undergraduate courses for non-chemistry majors in the Colleges of Science, Engineering, Earth Science, Marine Science, Meteorology and Environmental Science. A variety of research activities in the major fields of analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry are conducted in the department.
The College of Engineering supervises education in architecture as well as engineering. As part of the program for Technical Arabization, the college has published a number of Arabic dictionaries and translated or Arabized technical books. It has 12 departments, including Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Chemical and Material Engineering, Mining Engineering, Production Engineering and Mechanical System Design, and Aeronautical Engineering.
The College of Earth Sciences in its current form is the result of the amalgamation of the Geology Department with the Institute of Applied Geology, which was originally the Center of Applied Geology established by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources to train graduate geologists in geological mapping and mineral exploration.
The college is grouped in six departments offering bachelor's and master's of science, and doctoral programs. These departments are: Mineral Resources and Rocks, Petroleum Geology and Sedimentology, Structural Geology and Remote Sensing, Geophysics, Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology. A master's degree without thesis is offered by all the departments. A degree in Environmental Geology is also available.
For its technical support, the college has modern laboratories, for both teaching and research activities. For its field work, it has camping facilities that can accommodate up to 200 persons. There is also a local library, museum, up-to-date photo reproduction section, mapping unit and several computer laboratories in addition to a mainframe terminal room.
The King Fahd Medical Research Center was established in 1980 to serve faculty, students and researchers in the College of Medicine and Allied Sciences and the university hospital, to enable them to carry out their research and to promote effective participation in addressing medical problems that are of concern in the Kingdom. The center, in a new facility within the Health Science Center, consists of research laboratories, an auditorium and a transmission studio. It also includes institutes of public health and continuing studies.
The center aims to raise the number of practical medical and scientific researches and studies that are relevant to the local environment. It has a number of facilities, one of which is a Post-Graduate Studies Unit for students seeking higher education in medicine and related sciences. Other facilities include units for Electron Microscopy, Cell Analysis and Measurements, Animal Surgery, and Statistical Analysis and Information Processing. The Research Center also presents an array of medical, consultation and diagnostic services through local government and military hospitals in Jeddah as well as the University Teaching Hospital.
As the Kingdom celebrates this centenary year, KAAU has become a hub for the festivities, imbuing its students with the forward-looking spirit of the Kingdom's founder as they march forward into the next millennium.