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New research reveals the cost of international education in the Middle East in 2021

Key points:

  • Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman is the most expensive city in the Middle East for international education, with ballpark prices ranging from $6,000 to almost $15,000 per year.
  • However, the other UAE city included in our research - Abu Dhabi - is in 4th place out of 8 cities, placing it right in the middle.
  • Istanbul has the biggest range of international school prices, with a minimum of around $2,5000 and a maximum that exceeds $35,000 per year.
  • Manama is the cheapest city in the Middle East for international schooling, with a median price of under $7,000per year.
  • Price differences between Middle Eastern cities is small, with most cities in the Middle East having very similar median yearly prices of roughly $8,000 - $9,000.

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 around the world. 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 2021 we have expanded this research and in this article, we share and analyze the prices of international schools in the Middle East in 2021.

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, because they do not make their price data available or it is unknown to us. Links to additional research focusing in each of the other regions 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, as 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

You may have been expecting the United Arab Emirates to be the most expensive region in the Middle East for international education. And you are correct - Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman takes first place with ballpark prices ranging from $6,000 to almost $15,000 per year. However, the other UAE city included in our research - Abu Dhabi - is in 4th place out of 8 cities, placing it right in the middle.

In fact Istanbul has the biggest range of international school prices, with a minimum of around $2,5000 and a maximum that exceeds $35,000 per year. This is far higher than the maximum price in Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman, which sits at around $25,000.

Four cities in the middle of the table - Kuwait City, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul and Muscat - all have surprisingly similar median prices of roughly $8,000 - $9,000. Even at the top and bottom ends of the table, the situation is not that different. Manama, the cheapest city in the Middle East for international schooling, has a median price of under $7,000. Doha, the second most expensive city, has a median of just over $10,000.

What this tells us is that although it may not be as affordable as other regions of the world such as Africa, the cost of international education in the Middle East is at least largely consistent throughout the region (with Istanbul as perhaps the only exception).

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 $6,133 $11,039 $14,294 $26,019
2 Doha $1,312 $7,982 $10,634 $13,088 $20,784
3 Kuwait City $1,250 $6,339 $8,618 $10,958 $18,231
4 Abu Dhabi $2,532 $6,773 $8,592 $12,409 $20,420
5 Istanbul $2,111 $6,165 $8,496 $23,006 $35,340
6 Muscat $1,195 $5,427 $8,377 $11,435 $21,427
7 Riyadh $1,792 $4,632 $7,012 $10,064 $24,853
8 Manama $1,002 $4,037 $6,498 $9,181 $12,995

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 research for other regions: