International schools market still on growth path in the Middle East


Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 06 August 2018 – The premium, English-language international schools market continues to expand across the Middle East, showing no signs of slowing down despite challenging economic conditions.

According to the latest data from ISC Research, released ahead of the forthcoming IPSEF Middle East Forum in Dubai, the number of international schools in the region has grown from only 1,159 in 2013 to 1593 in 2018.

The UAE led all countries in the Middle East, boasting 624 international schools, up from 596 last year. Saudi is next with 257 followed by Qatar with 166. A total of 1.513 million students are attending international schools in the region, each paying an average of US$7,658 annually for their education.

“The growth of the international schools’ market in the Middle East further confirms the role education plays in the development agenda of governments in the region. A number of initiatives have been set in place to enable private companies to establish local branches or independently set-up international schools and help support the growth of the education sector as a whole in this part of the world,” said Rhona Greenhill, co-founder, IPSEF which runs the leading international conference on private and international schools in the UK, China and the Middle East.

According to Greenhill, new market updates will be revealed at the Dubai edition of IPSEF, which will be held on 21-23 September 2018 at the KHDA headquarters in Dubai International Academic City.

“Most of the demand for international schools in the Middle East is currently focused on the mid-price international schools that are affordable to the majority of professional expatriates and more affluent local families,” said ISC Research Schools Director, Richard Gaskell. “The market in the Middle East, particularly in the UAE, continues to expand. ISC Research is aware of 17 new international schools opening for the 2018-2019 academic year in the United Arab Emirates, 13 of which are located in Dubai.”

Ashwin Assomull, Managing Director, L.E.K. Consulting will present insights on the UAE K-12 education landscape, providing the very latest data on growth drivers and opportunities in this highly competitive segment.

As the international schools’ sector continues to grow, competition is expected to get tougher. Given this context, organisers have included a session on Marketing the #Future School, finding relevance in a crowded market to be led by Simon Noakes, Founder & CEO, Interactive Schools. The talk is expected to provide school owners and administrators insightful steps on how to highlight their unique strengths and remain competitive in the market.

“This year’s edition promises an unconventional conference experience with yoga sessions and healthy debates happening in a boxing ring, thanks to the support provided by KHDA which allowed us to use their facilities for our event. With the new set-up, we not only hope to innovate how conferences are being conducted, but also aim to foster better discussions and networking among delegates,” ended Greenhill.