UAE leads growth of private schools in Middle East

The UAE is leading the Middle East’s private school growth with Dubai and Abu Dhabi accounting for 60 per cent of the private K-12 school’s market according to latest data.

UAE leads growth of private schools in Middle East
Data released by global management consulting firm, L.E.K. Consulting has shown that the growth of schools in the UAE is unparalleled. According to the report, The Private K-12 Opportunity in the Middle East, the private K-12 market in the region has grown three times faster on average than GDP in the last three years alone, and is even larger than the $3.7bn higher education market.

The UAE: an attractive marketplace for schools

“A favourable regulatory environment, consumer willingness to pay, and promising demographics in both the local and expatriate populations make the region’s K-12 opportunity highly attractive,” said Ashwin Assomull, Partner, L.E.K. Consulting, who presented the full details of the report at IPSEF Dubai.
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According to Mr Assomull, the Middle East has benefited from the entry of large global chains such as Nord Anglia as well as prestigious independent school brands (e.g. NLCS, Brighton College), alongside the growth of homegrown private operators such as GEMS and Taaleem.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi particular hotspots

“Private K-12 in the UAE has been at the forefront of growth in the region and continues to experience unparalleled market expansion, with close to 24,000 seats added in the most expensive schools in the market over the last 3 years,” he added.The UAE has historically led the wave of growth in the region’s education sector and still represents an attractive market opportunity. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the largest and have been popular with investors. These markets widely focus on expat students since they tend to offer international K-12 options across all price points (ranging from USD 1,000 to USD 25,000).They are different from markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong, which tend to cater to primarily wealthy expats. The availability of options in the UAE enables parents to move across price segments as household income changes. This broad coverage has given rise to strong, high-quality mid-priced and premium K-12 markets, contributing to the UAE’s higher overall tuition revenue.

The growth of early years provision

Early years provision is also being examined at IPSEF Dubai, as experts see growth prospects within this segment. Courteney Donaldson, Managing Director – Childcare & Education, Christie & Co said, “The fragmented nature of ‘for-profit’ provision in the UAE, along with other factors, including economic, infrastructure and accessibility, and as a regulated sector, has meant that the UAE has become increasingly attractive to a number of international day nursery groups that are keen to acquire high calibre early years businesses across the UAE, and additionally seek partners to facilitate organic growth and development of new early years ventures.”
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