Dubai is growing fast. The emirate’s population has increased more than 40 per cent since 2010. Of the 2.7m people living there today, most are non-Emiratis; three times as many babies were born to expats than locals in 2015. An expensive education is not required to realise what this means for expat parents: getting children into a top international school is tough.
Fewer than one in 10 international schools is rated outstanding by the Dubai School Inspection Bureau, the education watchdog. They are often among the emirate’s most-established institutions, and are all in high demand.
Learn Dubai International Academy (DIA) is coeducational and the only outstanding-rated school in Dubai that offers the IB curriculum from ages three to 18. Last year its pupils scored an average 33.5/45 in the IB exams, compared with 30.07 globally. Most go on to US and UK universities, including Yale, Berkeley and Cambridge.
Pay* Dh67,893 ($8,483)
Live A seven-bedroom villa with almost 15,000 sq ft of living space and a private pool in Emirates Hills — “the Beverly Hills of Dubai” — is about 15 minutes’ drive from DIA.
Available through Lux Habitat, Dh44m ($12m)
British (national curriculum of England)
Learn There is an “eye-of-the-needle chance” of getting into Dubai College, according to Which School Advisor. Still, it is worth a try. Open since 1978, it is by far the most established of the outstanding-rated British schools. It accepts girls and boys from 11 to 18. In 2016, 82.1 per cent of GCSE passes were at grades A* and A — 61.6 per cent better than the UK as a whole. The 66.1 per cent A* and A rate at A-level outperformed the national average by 40.3 per cent.
Pay Dh87,984 ($23,954)
Live A contemporary designer villa on Frond N of the Palm Jumeirah, the city’s famous palm-shaped island, offers expansive ocean views.
Available through Knight Frank, Dh19m ($5.2m)
Learn Judged “good”, the American School of Dubai is not the best-rated US-curriculum school in the city. That honour goes to the “outstanding” GEMS Dubai American Academy. But, at 51, it is a stalwart of Dubai expat life and, unlike GEMS, which also offers the IB, students can take advanced placement classes, which is a boon to those transferring to US schools elsewhere. Nearly all students graduate to college, nine out of 10 heading to North America.
Pay Maximum annual fees are Dh91,169 ($24,816)
Live It is about 20 minutes’ drive from the school to Dubai Marina Residences, where a three-bedroom penthouse, with a maid’s room, is on offer.
Available through Sotheby’s International Realty, Dh18,75m ($5.1m)
Learn The Lycée Français International Georges Pompidou teaches 2,800 students of 50 nationalities across four sites. Part of Dubai’s educational scene for 40 years, it boasts a 100 per cent French baccalaureate pass rate and an “outstanding” inspection rating.
Pay Dh45,890 ($12,493)
Live A house with five bedrooms in Arabian Ranches, a desert-themed development with a golf course, gym and tennis courts, is about 20 minutes by car from the Lycee’s Academic City campus.
Available through Lux Habitat, Dh5,097,888 ($1,387,976)
Repton School in Dubai is partnered with the public school of the same name in Derbyshire, UK and teaches boys and girls aged three to 18. The senior school accepts boarders, an attractive option for travelling parents or those wishing to avoid the daily risk of hitting traffic on the school run. A Year-13 boarder pays Dh169,325 ($46,100) a year.
*Fees typically increase as the child moves up the school. The figure given is the annual cost of tuition for final year students, and does not include additional payments such as registration fees.
Photographs: Dreamstime; Jumana El Heloueh/Reuters/Alamy
Related article: Dubai leads Arab start-ups