Manama: Saudi Arabia’s Islamic University said that it has sponsored 2,053 students from more than 130 countries in the new academic year.

The university, founded in 1961 to promote Islamic studies, said that it enrolled 168 students born to expatriates working in the Saudi kingdom.

“The application process is made online and can be accessed anywhere in the world,” Mohammad Al Aqla, the dean of the university located in Madinah, said. “Three committees in the admission department, an African, an Asian and a European, sift through the applications to check whether the prospective students met all the requirements,” the dean said, quoted by local Arabic daily Al Watan.

The distribution of the scholarships is based on the needs of each country to help promote Islam and its values, Al Aqla said.

“Once an applicant is admitted, he receives an email informing him about the admission and providing numbers of the visa and the electronic ticket.”

Students are given upon their arrival at the university an accommodation bonus and a monthly amount throughout their studies. They have access to free accommodation and bus trips between the campus and the Prophet’s Mosque, meals at a reduced price and annual tickets, Al Aqla said.

Educational, social, cultural and recreational activities are sponsored by the students’ service department.

“We want the students to help promote the true message of Islam to the international community and spread the culture of moderation,” Al Aqla said. “We want to attract outstanding students and to help them become successful scholars within their societies and remarkable experts who will enrich scholarly research and studies. We also seek to have close cooperation links with educational and scientific institutions throughout the world to better serve humanity,” he said.

The Islamic University in Madinah, referred to as “the university on which the sun never sets” because of its global outreach, says it has five faculties: the Faculty of Islamic Law, the Faculty of Islamic Preaching and Theology, the Faculty of the Holy Quran and Islamic Studies, the Faculty of Prophetic Tradition (Hadith) and Islamic Studies and the Faculty of the Arabic Language.

The university, on its website, says that it is responsible for the Institute of Arabic Learning for non-Arabic Speakers, the Islamic University High School and Middle School, Dar Al Hadith of Madinah and Dar Al Hadith of Makkah.