UAE's international school market is largest in the world

Country has highest number of students enrolled in international schools

Students class. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Students class. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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The number of students enrolled in international schools in the UAE has expanded to 689,000 in 2021, outpacing huge markets like China and India, according to the latest data. 

The report by ISC Research and Global Education and Supplies Solution (GESS) also said that Dubai has the highest concentration of international schools among cities in the world, 333 in total, while the UAE has 725 international schools.   

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has likewise seen growth in the private education market, with 2,264 international schools, up from 1,885 six years ago. The region, saw a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 percent during the period.   

Other big markets in the region include Saudi Arabia, which has 292 schools and Egypt and Qatar, with 279 and 207 schools, respectively.    


In terms of student population size, the UAE is ahead of huge markets like China, which has 419,000 students enrolled in international schools, and India, with 316,000 students.   

The report, which tracked the growth of international schools over a six-year period, from 2015 to January 2021, showed double-digit growth indicators for the region, including student enrolment increasing by a CAGR of 19.5 percent and staff enrolment, 21 percent CAGR. 

“The continuing growth of the international schools’ market in MENA is a good sign that the education sector overall is showing resiliency, despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic,” said Matt Thompson, project director of Tarsus, which organises the GESS Dubai conference.   

“Looking ahead, we believe growth remains on the agenda, as this region will continue to experience population increase as well as economic development, factors that will provide the impetus for the expansion of the education market moving forward.” 

(Writing by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Cleofe Maceda) 

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