Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz University has been rated as the top university in the Gulf, according to the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings for 2012.
The Jeddah institution was ranked 49th overall in Asia. The university, which was founded in 1967 and is home to around 42,000 students, specializes in scientific undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
The Times Higher Education Rankings is the world’s largest academic reputation survey, with 2012’s study featuring nearly 17,000 institutes.
“It is an exciting time for higher education in Saudi Arabia and this prestigious list shows that the country’s institutions are firmly established among the best in the Asian continent and are very close to the highest world standards,” said Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education Rankings.
He added that “the signs are encouraging: investment in higher education in the region and the political drive to ensure that the country is at the forefront of new knowledge are promising signs.”
He added, however, that the UAE had much work to do “if it is to reach not just regional standards, but global ones too.”
Turkey dominated the higher places when it came to the broader region, with the Middle East Technical University in Ankara hitting top spot with a rank of 22nd in Asia. Bilkent University  and Koc University  were 28th and 31st, respectively.
“Turkey is firmly established as a research powerhouse in the Middle East and the Asia rankings show its strong position across the continent as a whole,” Baty said.
“According to our rankings data partner Thomson Reuters, Turkey produces about half of all researches in the Middle Eastern region, with particular strengths in medicine,” he added.
The report analyzed 50 million citations, while taking into account factors including the number of Ph.Ds awarded, staff-to-student ratios, scholarly papers and research income.
On a global basis, the index rated the world’s top university as the California Institute of Technology, followed by Oxford University, Stanford University and Harvard University.