The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of the countries of the Islamic world due to its religious status as well as its historic and civilizational importance. It includes the Qiblah (Ka`bah) which the Muslims face during their daily Prayers. Moreover, millions of people's hearts turn to Makkah, wishing to perform Hajj and Umrah.
During recent times, the kingdom has become a role model for the Islamic countries, as it utilizes the latest developments in modern civilization while maintaining its originality and special characteristics. This is in addition to its distinguished internal and external policies, which are based on the Islamic Shari`ah.
At the present time, the kingdom, thanks to its wise policy, has acquired a great status, which qualifies it to implement an influential role in the field of international politics and economy. Furthermore, the five-year development plans adopted by the kingdom 30 years ago have led to a boom, and have accelerated the growth rate in a manner that rarely occurs in most countries. According to a balanced policy, the kingdom has adopted an approach towards construction and development, establishing facilities and vital buildings together with the preparation and qualification of the citizens and new generations.
After the annexation of Hijaz in 1344 A.H./1925 A.C., the kingdom has paid major attention to learning and education, and has given care to knowledge seekers. Consequently, it established the first General Directorate of Knowledge, followed by establishing several schools in different parts of the kingdom and supplying them with teachers from both inside and outside the kingdom.
One of the first institutes in the kingdom is the Scientific Institute in Makkah, which was established in 1345 A.H./1926 A.C. Other educational institutions included the Scholarship Preparation School, which was established in 1355 A.H./1936 A.C., and Dar Al-Tawheed in Taif, which was established in 1368 A.H. After that, scientific institutes and schools were established in different cities and districts.
In 1369 A.H., King Abdulaziz ordered the establishment of the College of Shari`ah in Makkah. In so doing, it became the first higher education institution in the kingdom, the nucleus for Umm Al-Qura University, and the main college at this university.
Although Umm Al-Qura University has recently been restructured, the university will always maintain its status as one of the most distinguished universities due to its location and noble origin. Moreover, it has acquired a superior status as an academic institution that has a great reputation with regard to Shari`ah sciences, education, and Islamic studies, as well as modern scientific and applied specializations.
Since the first colleges were established, Umm Al-Qura University has undergone three phases:
First Phase (1369-1391 A.H.):
The year 1369 A.H. marked the establishment of Umm Al-Qura University, as the College of Shari`ah was established as the first higher education edifice, in the modern concept, in the kingdom. In 1372 A.H., an institute was established for teachers under the name 'the College of Teachers', which lasted until 1379 A.H. In 1381 A.H., the task of preparing teachers was assigned to the College of Shari`ah, which was then called the College of Shari`ah and Education. In 1382 A.H., the College of Education in Makkah was separated from the College of Shari`ah.
Second Phase (1391-1401 A.H.):
This is the phase in which the Colleges of Shari`ah and Education were annexed to the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, as a university campus in Makkah. At the end of this phase, another College of Education was established in Taif, new academic departments were opened, and a number of scientific centers were established.
Third Phase (Umm Al-Qura University):
The establishment of Umm Al-Qura University in 1401 A.H., according to a royal decree issued by King Khalid bin Abdulaziz (may Allah be merciful to him), led to the establishment of a number of colleges as an extension to the departments of the oldest colleges in this university: the College of Shari`ah and Islamic Studies, the College of Education, and the Institute of Arabic Language. During the first decade of the fifteenth Hijri century, five colleges were established: the College of Da`wah and Fundamentals of Religion, the College of Arabic Language, the College of Applied Sciences, the College of Social Sciences, and the College of Engineering and Islamic Architecture, as well as the College of Education in Taif, which was inaugurated in 1400 A.H. When the College of Medicine and Medical Sciences was established in 1416 A.H. in Makkah and the Deanship of Social Services was changed into a college, the number of the university colleges amounted to twelve. In addition, the Institute of Arabic Language for NonـNative Speakers and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research were also established, and the Community College in Al-Bahah was inaugurated.
Since then, the university has been offering different specializations, and has been granting Bachelor's degrees, higher diplomas, and Master's and PhD degrees in Shari`ah, Arabic language, education, social and applied sciences, medicine, and engineering.
The university encompasses about 30,000 students at the main headquarters in Makkah, and the specializations of its colleges keep increasing, thereby contributing to meeting the needs of the society and the requirements of the development plans for qualified personnel in different fields.
The establishment of Umm Al-Qura University coincided with the establishment of the new buildings of the University City. Al-Abdiyyah, which is located in the southeast of Makkah facing Mount Arafat, was selected as a new location for the university. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz (may Allah be merciful to him), laid the foundation stone for this huge project in 1406 A.H. The second phase of this project is expected to be completed in the near future.
In 1414 A.H., some colleges moved to the new buildings in Al-Abdiyyah, such as the College of Shari`ah and Islamic Studies, which has acquired a leading position in the sciences of Shari`ah and has obtained academic accreditation from the Muslim World League. In addition, the College of Engineering and Islamic Architecture moved to Al-Abdiyyah, and the College of Arabic Language moved to an annexed building. It then moved to another building at the end of 1420 A.H.
When the College of Medicine and Medical Sciences was established in 1417 A.H., it was temporarily located in the building for the College of Engineering and Islamic Architecture. It was then transferred to a new separate building, the first stage of which was completed in a record time.
The UQU headquarters and colleges are distributed in three locations in Makkah: firstly Al-Aziziyyah, which includes the buildings of the general administration, supportive deanships, some colleges, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research, the Makkah Community College, and the Institute of Scientific Research.
The second campus includes the Deanship of University Studies for Girls and the buildings and facilities of its colleges. And the new third campus is situated in Al-Abdiyyah.