Saudis and expatriates who want to work while pursuing higher studies in Riyadh can soon do so after the Arab Open University (AOU) launched its branch in the capital for the first time. Riyadh Gov. Prince Sattam laid the foundation stone for the construction of the new campus on Saturday night at Hatteen district, west of King Abdullah Financial District. The event was attended by a number of Saudi personalities in education including Ahmed Al-Saif, deputy higher education minister, Prince Turki bin Talal, president of the consulting body for AOU buildings, and AOU’s Branch Director Salim bin Mattar Al-Ghamdi. Work on the $ 30 million campus, which will accommodate 9,000 students, will finish in November 2013 according to its Project Manager Ibrahim Yaqoub. He said the university campus will cover over 38,000 square meters. The idea of establishing a nonprofit open university in the Arab world was initiated by Prince Talal, president of the Arab Gulf Development Program (AGFUND). AOU has seven branches in the region — in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain and Oman. In 1996, Prince Talal established the university as a nonconventional academic institution and as a foundation that contributes to steering development in scientific, social and cultural spheres. Reading out his inaugural speech, Prince Turki bin Talal said the establishment of this esteemed university marks it as one of the many beacons of knowledge being built and constructed throughout the Kingdom. “Tonight we are witnessing, while placing the first blocks of this building, a great event which is not just iron and wood and stone, but a leading embodiment of minds. It will help develop the capacity of young people who will contribute to building their country with sincerity and merit,” Prince Turki said, adding Prince Talal was very keen to witness the ceremony but was not able to do so. “If there is a delay our excuse was that we wanted the university’s buildings in Saudi Arabia to be an example of excellence that will match the needs of our daughters and sons. The new campus will not only provide them with modern knowledge but also various student activities and integrated facilities.” Speaking on behalf of Minister of Higher Education Khalid Al-Anqari, Al-Saif said Saudi Arabia is witnessing a prosperous era in higher education through the establishment of numerous landmark universities. “We have celebrated the inauguration of 13 university campuses across the Kingdom at a cost of SR 18 billion and now we are here again celebrating another monument of knowledge and education in the Arab Open University to make our dear country a hub for knowledge and scientists,” Al-Saif said.
The Governor of Riyadh lays the cornerstone of the Arab Open University building
06 Apr 2012