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The cost of international schools in the Middle East in 2020 revealed

Key points:

  • Dubai has, on average, the most expensive international education in the Middle East.
  • Istanbul, although cheaper than Dubai on average, is home to the most expensive international schools in the Middle East.
  • Bahrain’s capital Manama offers the most affordable international school fees.
  • International school costs in the Middle East are the most consistent in the entire world, with the lowest differences between minimum and maximum prices (Istanbul and outliers excluded).

At the International Schools Database, we help local and expat parents choose the perfect international school for their children. Our database allows parents to find, research and compare international schools in cities across five continents. Naturally, this means that we gather and analyse a huge amount of information about international schools all over the world.

Starting in 2019, we began using this data to evaluate the prices of international schools across the globe. For 2020 we have expanded this research and in this article, we share and analyze the prices of international schools in the Middle East in 2020.

Below, we have analysed price data from 8 cities in 7 Middle Eastern countries, in graph and table forms. While we have used all price data available to us, there may be additional schools and prices not included in each city. This is because do not make their price data available or because it is unknown to us. Links to additional research focusing on each world region individually and globally can be found at the bottom of this article.

Prices of International Schools in the Middle East, Per Year

The graph below is known as a box plot graph. It shows a comprehensive view of the range of prices in each city, instead of just an average. A single average price may not necessarily represent the full picture of prices in each destination. Since there is a lot to unpack in this graph, we have also provided a little explanation on how to read the graph easily at the end of the article.

How to read this graph

Highlights and takeaways from the research findings

Istanbul’s most expensive international schools have fees that are far higher than any other city in the Middle East. In Istanbul the most expensive international school costs $34k per year, while Dubai’s most expensive international school costs $26k per year. Istanbul also has the highest range of international school prices, with the cheapest international school costing only $4.5k.

International school fees in the Middle East overall are relatively close together, with the exception of Istanbul. There is only a $1.5k difference between the cheapest international schools in each city ($1k in Manama versus $2.5k in Abu Dhabi). The difference between the prices of the most expensive international schools in each city is greater - just under $18k in Kuwait versus $26k in Dubai - but this is still a smaller range than other continents.

There are lots of outliers in the Middle East because international schools are still relatively new in the region. This is different to other regions like Europe and Asia, where many international schools have been established for several decades. Demand and supply seems to be increasing in sync in the Middle East, whereas in other regions demand often outstrips supply.

You can find a breakdown of exact prices for each Middle Eastern city in the table below. But if that isn’t enough, we have also compiled price data for other regions and cities around the world; you can find links to this additional research at the bottom of this article. If you require any further information or have additional questions, don't hesitate to contact us at andrea@international-schools-database.com.

Prices of International Schools Per Year

Rank City Minimum Q1 Median Q3 Maximum
1 Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman $2,317 $5,920 $11,231 $14,874 $26,018
2 Doha $1,312 $7,654 $10,217 $12,689 $20,784
3 Istanbul $4,500 $6,750 $9,345 $27,250 $34,290
4 Kuwait City $1,233 $5,564 $8,502 $11,535 $17,985
5 Abu Dhabi $2,532 $6,646 $8,331 $12,288 $20,419
6 Muscat $1,169 $5,039 $7,791 $11,103 $21,426
7 Riyadh $1,792 $4,166 $6,956 $9,533 $24,856
8 Manama $1,002 $3,868 $5,792 $9,313 $20,421

source: www.international-schools-database.com

How to read the graph

The purple box shows the middle portion of the data, known in statistical lingo as the Interquartile Range. This is the ‘ballpark’ range that you would usually expect to pay in that particular city. The horizontal lines at each end of the box represent the First Quartile (Q1) and Third Quartile (Q3). These are the prices that would be considered somewhat cheaper (for Q1) or more expensive (for Q3) than the norm.

The median is shown as a vertical bar in the centre of the box. This is the price of the school in the exact middle of the range, i.e. the half-way point. Finally, you’ll see dots next to some of the box plots. These are ‘outliers’, prices that sit outside of all of the above ranges.

⇧ Go back to the graph ⇧

Additional 2020 research for other regions:

Latest updated research for 2023: