7 Reasons to Study Abroad in Saudi Arabia | Top Universities

7 Reasons to Study Abroad in Saudi Arabia

By Mathilde Frot

Updated October 18, 2022 Updated October 18, 2022

Want to study abroad, but can’t decide where? Perhaps you’ve considered some of the biggest international destinations – the US, UK, Germany and the like – but none of them has quite captured your imagination.

If you want something completely different, read on for our top seven reasons to consider universities in Saudi Arabia. Not least among these is the fact that Saudi Arabian universities have a very strong presence in the latest edition of the QS University Rankings: Arab Region.

1. Saudi Arabian universities are growing in prominence

With a steady increase in government spending on higher education, Saudi Arabia has taken active steps over the past decade or so to enhance its universities and research facilities and become a leading knowledge economy. With 29 Saudi Arabian universities ranked in the top 100 of the QS University Rankings: Arab Region 2021, and four universities in the global top 250 in the QS World University Rankings by Faculty for engineering and technology, Saudi Arabia is emerging as a strong hub for higher education, particularly in STEM subjects.

 2. Amazing travel opportunities

One of the many perks of living in Saudi Arabia is just how much travelling you can get done whenever you have a spare bit of time. A short drive from the Red Sea and an hour and a half’s flight from Dubai or Oman, Saudi Arabia is in close proximity of some of the world’s most beautiful sights and top travelling destinations. 

 3. Large and diverse international community

With many institutions offering generous scholarships to international students (in some cases even full tuition waivers), and most courses taught in English, many Saudi Arabian universities have large numbers of international students already enrolled – as well as catering to the many expat families living in the country. If you study abroad in Saudi Arabia, you’ll have the chance to make friends with both locals and students from all over the world. And, if you decide to work in Saudi Arabia after your studies, you’ll most likely cross paths with young professionals from a host of different cultural backgrounds.

 4. Save money

Keen to become more international, many universities in Saudi Arabia are keen to attract international students, and offer various funding incentives and scholarships. In addition, the costs of living in Saudi Arabia are relatively low compared to many parts of the world (around 37% lower than in the US as of June 2016, according to Numbeo.com). Renting a one-bedroom apartment in a city center will cost you around US$400 per month, a liter of gasoline roughly US$0.16 and a cappuccino about US$2.57.

 5. Opportunities to stay and work in Saudi Arabia

Developments in the Saudi economy have opened up opportunities for international graduates to work for a fixed number of years in finance and manufacturing, particularly the oil, IT, healthcare, banking, teaching, telecommunications and construction industries. Major companies based in Saudi Arabia include AE Systems, Cisco Systems, Procter & Gamble, Schlumburger, Nestlé and Siemens. Note that you will need a sponsor to help you secure your employment Visa, though this will typically be your employer.

 6. Enhance your CV with valuable international experience

If you decide to return home after your degree, the experience of studying abroad in Saudi Arabia – perhaps with a short period of work experience – will help you gain a global outlook both broadly speaking and within your field, which will in turn add value to your CV. The broad range of soft skills gained from studying abroad, along with specific understanding of Saudi Arabian professional and cultural contexts, will help you to impress recruiters in all kinds of roles and sectors. 

 7. Because shawarma…

Have you factored national cuisine into your decision about where to study abroad? Basically thin slices of meat rolled up into a pita with tahini, a generous dose of hummus, pickles, vegetables, and usually served with fries, shawarmas are Saudi Arabia’s national sandwich. Not to be missed!

This article was originally published in June 2016 . It was last updated in October 2022

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