Findings Indicate K-12 As One Of The Most Promising Sectors To Invest In Dubai

When the economic constructs of Dubai are discussed, some of the fundamental things that strike are tourism, retail, real estate and construction industry. Nevertheless, one of the sector which is increasingly attracting investment in the recent past is the evolving education sector comprising of K-12 and vocational training institutes.

Dubai’s globally recognized economic growth trajectory was initiated through trade, which eventually diversified into numerous successful alternate sectors such as real estate, construction, tourism, hospitality and retail in the 90s, all being interlinked through the long term strategic objectives of the Emirate. After two successful waves of economic progress, Dubai, which is often touted as the role model for the entire GCC region, is preparing for the third one, which it plans to build on a robust service sector, driven by knowledge, innovation and skills.

Aligned with the long term objective, the government in tandem with the private sector is taking strong initiatives towards investing in the education sector in Dubai. The given report, which primarily focuses on the K-12 education sector will discuss the market size of the sector along with some of the key trends, which are shaping up the sector.

The overall market size of the Emirate’s K-12 is estimated at 274,000 as of 2013, enrolled in both private and public schools, though the former comprises of near around 90 percent enrolments, reflecting an edge. The total numbers of schools are around 221, out of which 158 are private and 69 are government funded. Coming specifically to the private schools, which have generated total revenue of AED 4.7 (USD 1.28) billion in 2013, they have seen a massive growth over the last decade.

Figure 1: Shows the rise in private school enrolment in Dubai over the last decade.

Mentioned below are some of the key trends which are supposed to impact and stimulate the growth of  K-12 education in Dubai in the near future.

1. Public Policy: The favorable public policies in the Emirate, which realizes the close association between a vibrant education sector and subsequent economic progress, will be one of the key drivers for the K-12 education in Dubai. Dubai governments actively taking steps pertaining to reforming of curriculum and evaluation mechanism, training of teachers and implementation of modern practices of pedagogy to bring school education in Dubai at par with the global and international standards.

2. Private Sector Investment: Private sector investment in Dubai’s education sector will continue to rise in the near future. According to the estimates made by Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the overall private school enrollment in Dubai is expected to rise to 360,000 by 2020, indicative of a 7 percent growth rate. It is anticipated that 110 new schools will enter the market by 2020.

3. Technology enabled solution: Our discussion with various stakeholders in K-12 segment reveals that technology based solutions such as e-text books, e-boards, animations, simulations and digital libraries are increasingly becoming very popular in schools in Dubai. The reason for the popularity could be konnected with the high internet and smart device penetration in the Emirate, which makes kid very comfortable with technologies from an early age and hence application of such technology  drastically enhance the overall learning environment. Along with the private sector, the government sponsored public sector is also undertaking necessary steps towards implementing such technology enabled solutions in the public sector schools.

4. Rise in population: Dubai’s population is expected get doubled by 2020, driven by government’s ambitious urban development plans which will go up till 2020, the year when the World Expo is scheduled. With more expatriates coming up, there will be a rise in demand for quality education along with several international curriculums. Nevertheless, thanks to a large expatriate populace, Dubai boasts numerous international curriculums such as National, American, British, Indian, German, Russian, Irani and Pakistani etc.

Given its significance, Dubai’s education sector has definitely transformed into a fertile ground with more investments expected to enter in the coming time. However, the gestation period in education is believed to be higher when compared to other industries such as real estate or technology start up. Even during the time of recessions, which occurred in 2009-12, schools in Dubai were making a net profit in the range of 6-9 percent. Post-recession, it has hiked up to 10-15 percent.

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Author: RKonnect
The author is the Managing Director of Research Konnection, a Dubai based market research and consulting firm that helps local and international companies to identify emerging business opportunities and successfully expand in the Gulf region. The author can be reached at
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