Dubai is becoming a destination for elite schools around the world


Image used for illustrative purposes only.

Gulf today, Staff reporter

The school sector in Dubai continues to register steady growth, with the opening of four new private schools in the 2022-2023 school year. The new schools will offer an additional 7,000 places in three programmes: the British programme, the American program and the International Baccalaureate programme.

In April this year, private school enrollment in Dubai topped 300,000, the highest in its history, cementing its emergence as a premier educational destination.

Students in private schools in Dubai represent 187 nationalities, reflecting both the emirate’s vast cultural diversity and its vibrant educational ecosystem.

Dubai also hosts 10 branches of prestigious international schools, such as the recently opened Royal Grammar School Guildford and Durham School.

In this context, Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority of Dubai, said: “Dubai’s private education sector is characterized by the diversity of its students, its programs and the choices it offers parents from different communities. This diversity drives growth by attracting experienced and passionate teachers, and new families who come to Dubai for the world-class education their children will receive.

Last year, Chinese School Dubai became the very first institution to offer China’s National Curriculum for K-12 education outside the country. The school’s new campus, located in the heart of Mirdif, brings the teaching model of the highly regarded Chinese Hangzhou No. 2 High School to Dubai.

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Dubai has seen a marked increase in the number of schools aimed at specific communities in recent years, spurred by its growth as a center of business, investment and talent and its growing role as a bridge between markets and cultures . In the past three years alone, 21 new private schools have opened in Dubai, bringing the total number of schools in the area to 215 and international program choices to 18.

British curriculum schools are the first choice (35%), followed by the Indian curriculum (26%), American curriculum schools (16%) and the International Baccalaureate (6%).

Dynamic educational ecosystem

Investors and educators around the world see Dubai as a promising location for implementing high-quality educational models that integrate national curricula with a global perspective.

The Chinese School of Dubai, for example, seeks to foster high-level learning and innovation among students while helping them develop an international outlook. In addition to the Chinese curriculum, the school offers students Arabic as a second language, Islamic studies, moral education, and local studies based on the UAE national curriculum. Although it has primarily focused on serving the Chinese community in the emirate, the non-profit school also opens its doors to students of other nationalities.

In another recent school launch that validates the city’s attractiveness for investment in the education sector, the prestigious 500-year-old Royal Grammar School Guildford has opened in the city.

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The school is ranked among the best schools in the UK at A level and GCSE. In its first academic year in 2021-22, the Royal Grammar School Guildford, located in the Tilal Al Ghaf development, had already enrolled 250 students.

One of Britain’s oldest schools, Durham School, a celebrated institution with a 600-year history of academic excellence, is also the latest among a host of elite new international learning institutions that have chosen Dubai to establish a branch abroad. Founded in 1414 and re-founded in 1541 by King Henry VIII, the highly respected school has only two other international branches elsewhere in the world.

Located in the Dubai Investments Park, the school has a capacity of 1,700 students.

Dubai has also recently seen the establishment of its first-ever Australian program school. Located in Al Barsha South, the Australian International School opened its Dubai campus at the start of the 2021-22 academic year. With a capacity of 2,000 students, the school offers a future-oriented program to help students deepen their understanding of the world around them and their place in it.

The multi-institutional school offers several pathways for graduate students, including a Queensland Certificate of Education or IB Diploma.

Long-established institutions

Dubai is home to a wide range of established schools for specific communities, which have thrived in a vibrant and supportive educational environment. The Japanese School is an example of an institution that offers a traditional curriculum and a unique Japanese cultural experience in Dubai.

Established in 1980, the Japanese school aims to allow students to adapt to the Japanese education system once back in Japan. Currently accommodating around 146 pupils, the school, located in Al Wasl, offers private education for boys and girls from primary to middle school, aged 6 to 15 years.

In accordance with the curriculum prescribed by the Japanese Ministry of Education, the school’s goal is to provide an enriched learning environment for its students.

Another long-standing institution is the German School Dubai (Deutsche Internationale Schule Dubai – DISD), which was established in 2008 in response to demand from the large German community in the emirate.

Currently enrolling a total of 820 students, the majority of whom are native German speakers, the K-12 private school, located in Academic City, offers the curriculum of the German Federal State of Thuringia with some subjects taught in Arabic and English .

The school has fully embraced new technologies, including augmented reality and coding, while paying attention to the well-being of the school community. Innovation in learning is a central theme that runs through the school’s programs.

The Russian International School located in Muhaisnah is another long-established school. Established in 1996, the school teaches the Russian curriculum to 174 students, the majority of whom are Russian nationals.

It is the only school in the United Arab Emirates where Russian educational programs are taught and where the Federal General Education Policy of the Russian Federation is implemented. Offering an education ranging from the equivalent of KG1 to Grade 11, the school offers a curriculum leading to the Volograd School Leaving Examinations.

Over the past 25 years, RIS graduates have successfully pursued higher education degrees at universities in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, the Netherlands, and Asia. While the program is taught in Russian, the school also teaches its students Arabic and English.

In its new phase of economic growth, Dubai is expected to continue to develop as an educational destination offering diverse educational choices, alongside its growth as a center for investment, innovation and commerce.

By regularly keeping up with new advances in educational models, methodologies and technologies, Dubai is poised to boost its profile as a hub for elite schools around the world.

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