I have no idea why I got so emotional reading this. i actually got all teary eyed! Saudi may be late but when they do it – they do it up, masha’Allah. One thing I’d like to point out is that there are already colleges and Universities here for women, but they are branches. This will be the first exclusively girls University – masha’allah!

King lays foundation stone for women’s university
Ghazanfar Ali Khan | Arab News

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah is briefed by Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf as he views a model of the Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University project in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)

RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah yesterday laid the foundation for the Kingdom’s first women-only university, which is to be built at a cost of SR15 billion on the eastern suburbs of Riyadh.

The Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, with a capacity to enroll some 40,000 students, will offer courses in subjects that women find difficulty studying at universities where strict gender segregation is enforced.

On arrival at the construction site, King Abdullah was received by Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, Minister of Finance Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Minister of Higher Education Khaled Al-Anqari, government officials and other members of the royal family.

Speaking during the foundation-laying ceremony, Al-Assaf said, “This is a milestone in the Kingdom’s history, particularly in the history of women’s education. The campus would include an administration building, a central library, conference centers, buildings for 15 academic faculties, several laboratories and a 700-bed hospital equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

“Some areas in the campus would be allocated for research in nanotechnology, bio-sciences and information technology in collaboration with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology,” he said.

He added that the campus, spread over eight million sq. meters, would also include housing for university staff, mosques, a school, a kindergarten and exclusive amusement centers for families and students.

“In line with the king’s directions, the university would have a high-tech transport system with automatic and computer-controlled vehicles linking all important facilities at the campus round the clock,” the finance minister said.

He said the university’s design is environment-friendly.

Al-Anqari expressed his deep gratitude to King Abdullah for launching the project. “The king’s presence here shows his generous support for women empowerment in Saudi Arabia and his keen desire to promote higher education,” he said.

He added that a number of contractors have been pre-qualified by the Finance Ministry for the construction contract, and that the project would be the best model campus in the region.

Princess Al-Jowhara bint Fahd, the university’s president, said the institution is designed to become the world’s largest center of higher learning for women. “It would double the admission capacity of women students,” she said in a statement. “The university would have 13 colleges, including those for medicine, dentistry, nursing, naturopathy, information technology, languages, instant translation and pharmacy.”

“There are currently 26,000 girls studying in different faculties in the university,” she added.

Princess Al-Jowhara also expressed her happiness at the university’s high-tech design and thanked King Abdullah for his deep interest in the educational development of Saudi women.

The Kingdom is keen to empower women. The government recently urged the private sector to play a larger role in creating jobs for the rising number of women graduates

Figures released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Saudi government show that women make up 58 percent of the total student population of Saudi universities.

Al-Anqari said this was a record for women’s education. “But such an impressive achievement in tertiary education participation is not matched in the workplace, because only 16 percent of Saudi women work, mostly in the education sector,” said a UNESCO report.

During a recent visit to the Kingdom, Yakin Ertek, the UN rapporteur on violence against women, urged the Saudi government to establish the necessary infrastructure for women’s participation in all government institutions and private businesses, and also in the Kingdom’s decision-making processes.

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