In 1949 (1369H) King Abdul Aziz established the College of Shari`a (Islamic Law) in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, making it the first higher education institution in the country. It constituted the kernel of Umm Al-Qura University and its most prominent college. Henceforward, the establishment of higher education institutions continued. Among them, Umm Al-Qura University is distinguished by its unique location in the Holy City, and it's academic reputation in the fields of Islamic studies and scientific and applied disciplines.
The Development of Umm Al-Qura University
The religious, historical and cultural significance of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gives it a leading role among the countries of the Islamic world. Millions of Muslims flow to it to perform the Haj (pilgrimage) or Umrah or visit the mosque of the Prophet - peace and blessings be upon him. Muslims all around the world say their prayers facing the holy Ka'ba of Makkah everyday. Commitment to Islam and adherence to Islamic Shari'a has always been central to the Kingdom's domestic and external policies. Such commitment, however, did not hamper the persistent efforts to build a modern society that enjoys all the benefits of contemporary culture. Because of the wise government policy, the Kingdom has acquired an authoritative economic and political status that has produced a considerable effect on regional and international economy and politics. Since the unification of the Kingdom under the leadership of King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud tremendous efforts have been exerted to effect comprehensive development of all aspects of life in the country. Entering a new era of rapid development of the country's infrastructure and economy in the early 1970s, Saudi Arabia devoted special attention to fostering higher education. Established in 1975, the Ministry of Higher Education embarked on a long-term master plan to enable the Saudi educational system to provide the highly trained manpower necessary to run the country's increasingly sophisticated economy.
In 1949 King Abdul Aziz ordered the establishment of the College of Shari'a (Islamic Law) to become the first higher education institution in the country. It constituted the kernel of Umm Al-Qura University and its most prominent college. Henceforward, the establishment of higher education institutions continued. In 1952 the Teachers' College was established, followed by King Saud University in 1957 - the first of eight major universities in the Kingdom. Among these universities, Umm Al-Qura University is distinguished by its unique location in the Holy City and the good academic reputation in the fields of Islamic studies and other modern scientific and applied disciplines.
Umm Al-Qura University has developed through three historical phases:
The first phase (1949 -1971):
The start was in 1949 when the College of Shari'a was established, followed by the establishment of the Teachers' College In 1952 which continued until 1959 when the College of Shari'a took the responsibility of teachers' preparation and became the College of Shari'a and Education. In 1962 the College of Education was established as an independent college.
The second phase (1971 -1981):
In 1971 the Colleges of Shari'a and Education became part of King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and constituted its branch in Makkah. The College of Education in Taif was established towards the end of this period, followed by the establishment of other academic departments and centers.
The third phase (Umm Al-Qura University):
The University of Umm Al-Qura was established in 1981 by the royal decree number 39 on 30/7/1981 . During the first decade of the fifteenth Higri century the Colleges of Da'wa (Call to Islam), Arabic Language, Applied Sciences, Social Sciences, Engineering and Islamic Architecture were established, beside the College of Education in Taif which was established in 1981. By the establishment of the College of Medicine and Medical Sciences in 1997 in Makkah and later in Taif, and the establishment of the College of Natural Sciences in Taif and the college of Community Service and Continuing Education the number of colleges jumped to twelve, beside the Institute for Teaching Arabic for Non-Native Speakers and the Haj Research Institute. Later on, a community college was established in Baha.
The University offers the Bachelors, Graduate Diplomas, Masters and Ph.D degrees in Islamic Studies, Arabic Language, Education, Social Sciences, Applied Sciences, Medicine and Engineering. Thee are about 30,000 students in the campuses of Makkah and Taif.
In 1986 the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques laid the foundation stone of Al-'Abdiyah campus to continue the university's educational progress in Makkah and meet the rising demand of the increasing numbers of students. In 1995 The College of Shari'a and Islamic studies, the College of Arabic Language and the College of Engineering and Islamic Architecture began the gradual move to the new campus, followed by the College of Medicine and Medical Studies which was established by a royal decree in 1997. Currently, there are three campuses in Makkah. The first campus is in Aziziyah, housing the university administration, the supporting deanships, the College of Community Service and Continuing Education, the Institute of Scientific Research, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' Institutes for Haj Research, and some other colleges. The second campus is in Al-Zahir, housing the Deanship of Girls Undergraduate Studies and its facilities, and the third one is the new campus of Al-'Abdiyah. There is another campus in Taif embracing the College of Education and the College of Natural Sciences. Beside awarding academic degrees, Umm Al-Qura university gives a special attention to research and publication and community service. The University is playing a significant role in these fields.