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Growth in Gulf States 2011- 2015


Dubai, UAE; 26 February 2015 – The Middle East continues to dominate the global English-medium international schools market, says research presented at the ongoing GESS Dubai exhibition.

According to latest figures from ISC Research; part of the International School Consultancy and the leading provider of research and market intelligence on the world’s international schools, there are now 1,329 English-medium international schools throughout the Middle East teaching 1.17million students. Globally there are 7,545 international schools teaching 3.92 million students.

The United Arab Emirates leads both the region and the world for the number of English-medium international schools, with 505 schools teaching over 452,900 students.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi

The majority of international schools  in the UAE are located in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Both Emirates have seen a dramatic increase in the number of international schools over the past decade and ISC Research says school expansions and new builds will continue.

Within the UAE, Dubai has the highest concentration of international schools (a total of 245) followed by Abu Dhabi (144 schools). Local families in both Emirates are increasingly choosing international schools for their children who now make up a significant percentage of the student intake. The combined high demand from local and expatriate families is fuelling the continued growth.

Demand, particularly at the best international schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, continues to outstrip supply and waiting lists remain long. In Dubai, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) anticipates an increase in enrolment at international schools of 7% per year for the next five years. It is planning for 90,000 additional school places in 60 new and expanded schools.

Qatar – the Middle East’s growing market

Qatar is predicted to see major growth over the next decade. The country currently has 147 international schools teaching 111,200 students, the majority of which (130) are located in Doha where more schools are urgently needed.

The growing preference of Qatari families for an international school education for their children, and large-scale infrastructure projects which are attracting more expatriates to the region, are increasing the demand for international school places.  Lusail, the brand new city which is currently being built 15 kilometres north of the centre of Doha, is attracting much attention. Alongside a number of Qatari national schools being built here, there will also be a range of international schools, several of which are due to be in operation by 2018.

The bigger picture

In addition to Qatar and the UAE, the market throughout the Middle East continues to grow with continued expansion of note in Saudi Arabia, which now has 202 international schools.

By 2024, ISC Research predicts that Asia alone will have well over 7,000 international schools and the global market will have reached 15,000 international schools generating over $65.1 billion (USD) in annual tuition fee income.

More in-depth data, as well as analysis and market intelligence on the leading countries for international schools in the world, is available in ISC Research Market Intelligence Reports.  For information visit

All figures are based on data from ISC Research as of January 2015.