Dubai Education Sector Offers Unique Investment Opportunities | K-12 Education

Dubai’s education sector continues to be an attractive market for investors on account of strong GDP growth estimated at 4 per cent in 2016. Reinforcing its position as a leading global business hub, Dubai and UAE’s education sector offers lucrative opportunity to invest backed by highly competitive and innovation-driven economy, attractive labour market, political stability and ease of doing business.

Being economically diversified and demographically cosmopolitan city, Dubai is also considered as one of the best place to live and work. Named as the Global ‘City of Opportunity’ by PWC, Dubai continues to improve its infrastructure offering better quality of life and advancement opportunities.

Dubai Government Economic Initiatives

Dubai government announced a budget of AED 46 million for 2016 focusing on social development, education, health and infrastructure. Similarly, previously announced mega projects like Expo 2020 will play a pivotal role in strengthening Dubai’s position as a world-hub for tourism and trade.

Dubai – Growth in Population

The population of Dubai reached 2.45 million in 2016 from 1.3 million in 2005, registering a CAGR of 6.7 per cent. According to research findings, Dubai’s population will further increase to 3.5 million by 2020 as a result of series of economic initiatives taken by the government.

Dubai Government – Prioritising Education Sector

Apart from developing real estateretail and tourism sectors, Dubai government have given Education top priority as it is keen to build a knowledge-based economy and position itself as the academic hub in the GCC region. Due to the strong emphasis by the government, Dubai’s education sector has grown significantly to become a major contributor towards Emirate’s economy, with an approximate contribution of 22 per cent towards the GDP.

Key Growth Drivers of Booming Education Sector in Dubai

Dubai is experiencing significant growth in education with an 8 per cent annual increase in student enrolments in private schools. According to Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) the number of students will jump from 225,000 in 2013 to 360,000 by 2020 on the backdrop of increasing population and economic growth in the Emirate.

Growth Trend of Student Enrolments in Dubai’s Private Schools

Dubai is also witnessing a huge preference for international curriculums as private schools in Dubai offer International Baccalaureate (IB), British, American, Canadian, French, Indian, German, Pakistan and Japanese curriculums. Another significant improvement is seen in enrolment of Emiratis (UAE Nationals) in private schools which has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Dubai’s private school enrolments have grown faster than other international markets. To capitalise on this demand, some of top K12 American and European schools and higher education intuitions have established their campuses in Dubai.

Growth in Private Education Sector

It is anticipated that 110 new schools will be required by the market by 2020 of which 27 new schools are planned to open by the end of 2016, which will bring the total number of private schools in Dubai to 196 from current 169 schools as KHDA seeks to accommodate 104,792 new students. The graph below illustrates the y-o-y increase in the number of new private schools opened and expected to open by 2020 in Dubai. It is evident that there is high demand for investment in Dubai’s Education and K-12 Sector.

Y-o-Y Growth in Dubai’s Private Schools

K-12 One of the most promising Investment Sector

The K-12 education system of the UAE comprises of primary schools, middle or preparatory schools and secondary schools. More precisely, the introduction of K-12 education, which aims to integrate innovation and the use of modern technological tools into the teaching/learning processhave been widely embraced by students as it has drastically enhanced the overall learning environment.Quality and technology plays a critical role in the success of the school due to high demand for innovative and creative learning methods. Fortes Education recently announced its new Sunmarke School that will open in 2016 in Dubai, operating under the British Curriculum. The school will also feature a high impact education programme called Multi-Smart Learning, combined with an Education in Human Values (EHV) programme, based on latest innovative teaching methods.

Invest in Dubai’s Education Sector

International schools are expressing keen interest to establish their regional presence in Dubai due to the ease of market entry, zero income tax, positive socioeconomic indicators and high returns on private education investments. Considering the growth in population and student enrolments, Dubai’s education sector could be considered as the most lucrative sector for future investments.


Authors – Waqas Hassan (MD & Principal Consultant) | Fathima Azeez (Contributor)

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