Opting to send children to private education institutes is standard for most expatriates in the GCC region (the six country bloc named the Gulf Cooperation Council). In terms of the UAE, approximately 80% of the country’s population are considered expat. Whilst British expats are not a majority, British curriculum schooling is by far the most popular. There are various schools and school groups offering the curriculum; GEMS Education is the largest provider of private education in the UAE.
The report Schools In, written by JLL MENA, states that the UAE will need an additional 97 schools by the year 2020, 58 of those are expected to be private schools. The report predicts a total of 1110 new schools will be needed in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, and Cairo by the same year.
The reason the education industry is growing at such a rate is due to the age of the population rather than being due to an influx of expats. In the UAE approximately 70% of the population is aged 40 or less. Whilst Saudi’s demographic is slightly different to that of the UAE, the school-aged population there is expected to reach 9 million by 2020.
At GESS Dubai 2018, an education trade event which attracts providers from all over the world, a record 92 UK schools. manufacturers, and service providers exhibited. The demand for UK quality education is high and is likely to remain so as countries in the region, the UAE in particular, develop knowledge economies as the fossil fuel boom era draws to a close.
The UAE is arguably the most attractive country for expats regionally. With generally higher salary levels (due in part to the lack of personal income tax), parents are able to send their children the best schools possible; the majority of which are either based on the UK, US or Indian curriculum.
The Ministry of Education is the federal authority overseeing education as well as public schools. At an Emirate level, Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) is Dubai’s Dubai’s education regulator and the Abu Dhabi equivalent is Department of Education & Knowledge. These two portals are a great place to start if you want to learn more about the country’s education opportunity. Further to this, if you are looking for market information and facilitating introductions into schools, please contact me directly.