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United Arab Emirates Continues to Lead the International Schools Market

By Anne Keeling
United Arab Emirates Continues to Lead the International Schools Market

ISC Research, the world’s leading provider of data on the international schools market, has published the 2015 Market Intelligence Report for international schools in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE continues to be the leading country in the world for English-medium K-12 international independent schools. In terms of the number of international schools, the UAE is currently competing in a very tight race with China, but in terms of student enrollment, the UAE leads the world decisively.
According to the new ISC Market Intelligence Report there are 548 English-medium international schools in the UAE; just three ahead of China. The two emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi dominate with 260 schools in Dubai and 191 in Abu Dhabi. More schools are under construction with 14 due to open during 2016 including GEMS International School in Mudon, Canadian International School in Dubai, and Sunmarke School in Jumeirah Village.
Several more schools are in various phases of development. The total number of students aged between 3 and 18 attending English-medium international schools in the UAE is 545,074. This is the highest enrollment of any country in the world by a significant margin (Saudi Arabia follows with 260,989). Thirty-six percent of all international schools in the UAE have over 1,000 students.
There are several reasons why student enrollment is so high at international schools in the UAE. Major factors include the wealth of the country, an extensive expatriate population, demand for high quality, English-medium education by both expatriates and wealthy locals, plus the fact that the governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi allow unlimited enrollment of local children at international schools. According to the ISC 2015 Market Intelligence Report, Emirati students comprise the single largest student nationality (25 percent) with the exception of Dubai where they are outnumbered by Indian children (29 percent). However, in no emirate do local children exceed 50 percent of the student population.
The report states that, with Dubai’s population projected to grow by 13 percent within the next two years, and further expansion in Abu Dhabi, demand for international school places in these two emirates will continue to increase substantially. The report also suggests that the Northern Emirates, which currently have 29 international schools, represent a potential growth market for the UAE, where new developments have been emerging over the past two years.
Fees at some international schools in the UAE are being impacted by the recent oil crisis, and the report evaluates the impact of this on demand and income. Another issue raised by the report is the increasing concern about access to enough qualified teachers with skills and experience from the U.K. 47 percent of the international schools in the UAE follow a British curriculum and 73 percent offer IGCSE, GCE AS and/or GCE A levels. The report cites less competitive teacher salaries in the UAE than many other countries, plus a drop in the number of people applying to enroll for teacher qualifications in the U.K. for this concern. “If the number of qualified teachers…begins to dwindle,” says the report, “schools will find it difficult to expand.”
However, the ISC Research UAE Market Intelligence Report, which contains detailed data analysis and crucial information relevant for school expansion, new developments and education suppliers wishing to understand the UAE market in depth, states that the international schools market in the UAE is flourishing. “Further growth is inevitable, spurred by increasing demand from both the expatriate community and from local families,” it concludes.
For the first time, the report includes a detailed focus on Sharjah and the Northern Emirates where development is underway and growth potential exists. The 160-page report includes detailed research and analysis on tuition fees, student and staff nationalities, capacity utilization, fee income, salary ranges, new developments, market outlook, and more.
Further information about the world’s international schools, as well as the UAE and other country-specific market intelligence reports are available from The International School Consultancy (of which ISC Research is a part) at

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04/20/2016 - Brian
Apparantly some countries in this region are difficult to live in if you have daughters. What they can do is greatly restricted. Does anybody know whether this is the case in the UAE?



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