When Ahlia University was founded in 2001, it marked a milestone in the development of higher education in Bahrain. As the Gulf state’s first licensed private university, the new institution set out to provide quality education that matched international standards set by leading institutions in the UK and US. Today, it attracts students from all over the world, offering first-rate academic facilities and high-quality teaching in a dynamic and cosmopolitan environment.

At the heart of Ahlia University’s ethos is an emphasis on collaboration and exchange. Each year, students from universities in Europe and the US arrive at the Ahlia campus, curious to see what the next nine months will bring. “It’s a really big change for many of these students,” says Professor AbdullaYousif Al-Hawaj, Ahlia University’s Managing Director. “The language, the culture, the environment – it’s all an exciting new experience for them.”

While the vast majority of courses are conducted in English, all international exchange students are given lessons in the local tongue. “We make sure they are all able to speak Arabic by the time they go home,” says Professor Al-Hawaj, “so that on top of experiencing a different environment and engaging with Arabic culture, they also go home having mastered a new language.”



Meanwhile, Ahlia students head to universities in London, Paris and the US to complete their studies abroad. A variety of programmes are available for those looking to complete their studies overseas at prestigious partner institutions, which include Brunel University in the UK, George Washington University in the US and The European Institute of Technology in France, among others.

Other opportunities include the “2+2 agreement”, by which students who complete two years at Ahlia can graduate from Brunel after a further two years studying in the UK. There are also a number of options to complete internationally accredited master’s and PhD programmes on the Ahlia campus, including the master’s in Engineering Management, run by George Washington University, and different courses available on the Brunel PhD programme.

These interactions offer Ahlia University a chance to benchmark its status against established international institutions as it explores new opportunities for growth and development. “As a young, forward-thinking Middle Eastern University,” says Professor Al-Hawaj, “we want to benefit from Western expertise while sharing knowledge and ideas through an open, collaborative framework that brings benefits to both.”



In the next three years, Ahlia University will move into a new campus that’s currently being constructed on the outskirts of Manama, Bahrain’s bustling capital. The purpose-built facility will feature state-of-the-art facilities, including a teaching hospital and new research centre to support the growing body of studies being published by staff and students across the different faculties.

The campus will also increase the university’s capacity from its current body of 2,500 students up to 10,000 as it expands its educational footprint at home in Bahrain. This will be an important step, not just for the university, but for Bahrain as a whole, as a new and growing generation of graduates brings skills, expertise and international experience to the work force. “As the country’s top private university,” says Professor Al-Hawaj, “Ahlia is playing an important role in driving the future vision of Bahrain and furnishing our society with the resources required to become a hub for knowledge and progress in the region.”