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In 1949, King Abdul Aziz ordered the establishment of the College of Shari'a (Islamic Law) to become the first higher education institution in Saudi Arabia. It constituted the kernel of Umm Al-Qura University and its most prominent college. Henceforward, the establishment of higher education institutions continued. In 1952 the Teachers' College was established, followed by King Saud University in Riyadh in 1957.

Umm Al-Qura University has developed through three historical phases:

The first phase (1949 -1971): 
The start was in 1949 when the College of Shari'a was established, followed by the establishment of the Teachers' College In 1952 which continued until 1959 when the College of Shari'a took the responsibility of teachers' preparation and became the College of Shari'a and Education. In 1962 the College of Education was established as an independent college. 

The second phase (1971 -1981): 
In 1971 the Colleges of Shari'a and Education became part of King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and constituted its branch in Makkah. The College of Education in Taif was established towards the end of this period, followed by the establishment of other academic departments and centers. 

The third phase (Umm Al-Qura University): 
The University of Umm Al-Qura was established in 1981 by the royal decree number 39 on 30/7/1981. Over the past thirty years, Umm Al-Qura University has expanded dramatically. Now, it includes twenty seven colleges and higher institutes covering a broad spectrum of studies such as Islamic & Arabic Studies, Educational & Social Sciences, Computer & Engineering, Business and Tourism, and Medical, Dental, Pharmaceutical & Allied Sciences. During this period, Umm Al-Qura University established the nucleus colleges for Taif University & Al-Baha University.

The University offers the Bachelors, Graduate Diplomas, Masters and PhD degrees in various fields of study. There are about 30,000 students enrolled in the University.

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