Health & Education

Time To Learn


Under the motto “creating the future" the Emirate of Dubai is set to become an educational pole of attraction throughout the region. The key words of Dubai's educational panorama are growth and diversity.

According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the education panorama in the Emirate is led by private institutions that represent about 88% of the total of the sector. Education in Dubai is undergoing a steady increase in both numbers of facilities, as well as number of students who choose to pursue education. The number of private schools in the Emirate is increasing 10% per year, and in the 2013/2014 academic year Dubai registered over 243,700 student enrollments. More specifically, the number of enrollments when looking at early schooling to higher education came in at 46,212 enrollments in kindergarten, 101,971 in primary school, 60,708 in secondary school, and 34,824 in higher education. In terms of graduates, Dubai will produce over 10,000 graduates in the 2013-2014 academic year. Approximately 55% of the total are Bachelor’s degree holders, and 34% chose to continue their studies and obtained a Master’s degree. Focusing on higher education, there are 57 accredited higher education providers, divided between universities and other institutions. Dubai has over 120 different degrees, spanning a wide array of disciplines. The most popular choice in terms of student majors is business, accounting for 44% of the enrollment in international universities. There is also plenty of choice from a financial point of view, as prices can range from AED1,725 up to AED98,000 per academic year.


Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) stands as the world’s largest free zone dedicated to higher education. Established in 2007 as part of TECOM Investments, DIAC strives to develop the region’s talent pool and establish the UAE as a knowledge-based economy. Geographically speaking, DIAC is located on a multi-functional campus of 1.67 million sqm and is equipped with facilities that assure a healthy and balanced lifestyle for both students and teachers. DIAC is home to many international universities that chose to open branches in the UAE, from 10 different countries, while DIAC hosts a community of over 20,000 students from 125 nationalities who have access to over 400 higher education programs. According to Dr. Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director of DIAC, the results of a study conducted in partnership with Deloitte in 2013 suggested that the UAE is the fourth most desirable educational destination in the world. Dr. Kazim also highlighted how education is said to be one of the top five exports for countries including the US, with good graduates then contributing to a strong economy. Hence, one of the UAE’s priorities is to become an international education capital. Education in the UAE is not only meant in the traditional sense, explained Dr. Kazim, expressing how governmental authorities have their own agenda when it comes to vocational education. An institute called the National Institute of Vocational Education (NIVE) also focuses on different fields such as media animation and culinary arts.


Dubai’s multiculturalism is reflected in its education system. Any resident in Dubai can choose from among a wide pool of educational institutions. Dubai currently has 157 private schools and a wide choice of different academic curricula is available, including British, US, Indian, French, IB, and others. The British curriculum is the most in demand, with 58 schools out of the total following it, while those following the US and Indian curricula number 31 and 29, respectively. According to Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai’s multicultural soul is a mirror reflection of what Dubai’s society is today: an organic landscape. The benefits of pursuing education in a country that made diversity and multiculturalism its flagship are that the learning experience becomes better and students get accustomed to dealing with people from different walks of life.


Education will play a central role in the realization of the Dubai National Vision 2021, toward the realization of a competitive knowledge economy. The National Vision stresses the importance of harnessing the full potential of the UAE’s national human capital by encouraging entrepreneurship and nurturing homegrown public and private sector leaders while attracting and retaining the very best talent.

Dr. Ali Sebaa Al Marri, Executive President of the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government, elaborated on the concept that education serves as the correct nourishment for the UAE’s future leaders, and it will support them through their careers in any sector they might choose. The development of the education panorama and the inauguration of new universities are aligned with the National Vision, through a measure in which universities will become the bridge between the needs of Emiratis and of their future employers, and will balance their teaching to the demands of the workplace. Mahmood Ahmed Al Bastaki, CEO of Dubai Trade, Dubai World, highlighted the role of academia in having an important part to play in the success of the future developments of Dubai, by aligning future curricula with the vocational needs of emerging industries. Oxford Economics estimates that Dubai winning the bid for Expo 2020 will create more than 277,000 job opportunities in the UAE between 2013 and 2021, with most new jobs being in the construction and tourism sectors.


The promotion of exchange students programs and student mobility stands as a priority in the national agenda. Dr. Kazim stressed to TBY how the educational arena has witnessed the emergence of transnational students who are able and willing to travel in order to receive the best quality higher education, fundamental to securing rewarding employment opportunities. Nearly 5 million international students are likely to be studying for degrees outside their own countries in 2013-2014, a figure that is expected to grow. Since 2000, 2.1 million students left home to enroll in a foreign college or university and this number has increased by 140%, an average of 10% every year, according to OECD data. When students are selecting possible destinations, there is a consistent number of factors that are taken into consideration: study costs, employment prospects, and location. In this respect, Dubai possesses some competitive advantages, including an affordable cost of living together with a central location. On top of this, employment prospects are an especially important issue for students, who face the task of establishing a career in a jobs market that remains challenging in many countries after graduation.