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A Modern Marvel: Princess Nora University

Princess Nora University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Princess Nora University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Visiting the newly constructed Princess Nora University campus is like stepping into a futuristic university dream.
This is where I go each week for Arabic classes.

At the entrance is a large waterfall feature and old fashioned stone wall fence and gate. There is tight security at the entrance and our van driver is always stopped and has to hand over all his credentials and we had to have picture ID cards made before we can enter. Once on campus we have to drive another 5 minutes at about 60 km per hour on a freeway to get to the language and translation buildings on campus.

Glimpse of Princess Nora University

Glimpse of Princess Nora University

Welcome sign to the Princess Nora University

Welcome sign to the Princess Nora University

It is a vast campus, a city unto itself, spacious and full of young palm trees planted in large groves between and among simple,but classy light stone faced buildings. It`s so big that they built a monorail transit system just for transport within the campus, with the tracks for 8 stations built above ground arcing overtop of the road like something out of Disneyland. It feels like an enormous ariport with trains linking the terminals. Apparently the campus also has electric vehicles, and solar panel power assisted air conditioning.

Light Rail Transit System on Campus, Princess Nora University

Light Rail Transit System on Campus, Princess Nora University

Near each station is a cluster of buildings centered around a green oasis, with green grass and trees and a water fountain nestled among the five or six 2 and 3 storey buildings. Wide covered walkways link the buildings at the 2nd floor level. With shiny marble floors everywhere, combined with simple, colourful modern furniture in alcoves in the hallways and outside the prayer rooms, and elegant lights at the foyers and stairwells, it feels more like a nice conference facility than a university campus.

sofas outside of the classrooms

sofas outside of the classrooms

 

lights above the main entries

lights above the main entries

 

view from the second story overlooking some water fountains (not on)

view from the second story overlooking some water fountains (not on)

 

Princess Nora University pedway

Princess Nora University pedway

The language labs are airy and spacious, with all classrooms are fully equipped with the biggest and best modern technology including enormous interactive smartboards , built-in stereo audio, and wifi internet access in every classroom as well as white boards and flip charts. All the long student tables are furnished with laptops, ready to use for any student who sits down on the comfortable office chairs.

Language Lab

Language Lab

Classrooms with laptops installed

Classrooms with laptops installed

 

wide main hallways

wide main hallways

When our small class arrives at 6:00 the campus is empty, except for the male workers who can only be there in the evening after all the women have gone home for the day. When we first arrived and walked into the oasis, about 20 of them were on a break and they silently all motioned to the entry to the language and translation building as if on cue , guiding us before we had to ask any questions.

The night I took these pictures was a lovely night, after a rain storm. The sky was a deeper blue than usual and the air was almost humid. Felt like there should be a lake and a beach just around the corner.

On the way back out to our waiting van, the campus empty, all the workers were gone, and I slipped off my shoes and ran my toes through a patch of grass in one of the courtyard oases (which sadly I couldn`t get a good picture of due to the position between the buildings). First time I`ve done that in years. Felt divine.

palm trees everywhere

palm trees everywhere

As salaam alikum.

More info:

Link to the Princess Nora University: http://www.pnu.edu.sa/en/Pages/Home.aspx
Description of the University:
Founded in 1970, The King launched a vision to build the largest and most modern women`s institute in the world with the creation of a University City, opening in 2012. It has 32 campuses and can accommodate 40,000 students and 12,000 employees.

Sources:
Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University” Saudi Ministry of Higher Education
Jabaji, R. (October 31, 2008) “Saudi Arabia’s First Women’s University”
Sources: Miller, D.E. (May 17, 2011) “Saudi Arabia opens world’s largest women’s university”
Arab News, October 15, 2010

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