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New research reveals the cost of international education in the Middle East in 2022

Key points:

  • Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman is the most expensive destination in the Middle East for international schooling. Doha is a close second with very little difference in median price.
  • Istanbul and Manama offer the lowest median costs in the continent, but also some of the widest ranges of prices.
  • There is very little difference in the cost of international schools across four cities in the Middle East; Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Riyadh.
  • Prices across the region are significantly lower than other parts such as Europe and Asia, despite the affluent reputation of certain cities in the Middle East.

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.

Starting in 2019, we began using this data to evaluate the prices of international schools across the globe. In this article, we share and analyze the prices of international schools in the Middle East updated to 2022.

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 as of Dec 31st 2022, 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 and here can be found the results of the previous year 2021.

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

This year Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman has retained its title as the most expensive location in the Middle East for international schooling, with a median price of $10,891 per year. However, Doha is following closely behind with a median price of $10,591 – a difference of just $300 per year. So far Doha is the only competition Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman has, with prices at least 20% lower in all other cities in our analysis for the Middle East.

On the opposite end of the scale, Istanbul and Manama offer the lowest median prices for international schools in the region. However, the range of prices available in both cities is similar to Dubai-Sharjah Ajman and Doha. Costs in Istanbul range from $2,100 to $36,570, and in Manama the minimum price is $1,004 while the maximum is $24,912.

The remaining cities included in our research for the Middle East this year are Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Riyadh. All have costs that are very similar to each other, with median prices ranging from $8,513 in Riyadh to $8,726 in Muscat. Minimum and maximum prices are also similar across all four cities, showing strong consistency in the region.

Parts of the Middle East are considered affluent or luxurious destinations globally, so you may expect the cost of international schools in the region to reflect this. However when compared with other regions around the world, particularly Asia and Europe, the cost of international education in the Middle East is significantly lower. Of the 76 cities included in our research, the most expensive Middle Eastern location – Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman – ranked in 35th position. So if you had dismissed the Middle East as ‘too expensive’, consider taking a second look.

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 $1,402 $6,263 $10,891 $14,295 $26,021
2 Doha $1,312 $7,982 $10,591 $13,210 $20,847
3 Muscat $1,195 $4,924 $8,726 $11,181 $21,426
4 Abu Dhabi $2,532 $6,836 $8,724 $12,765 $20,421
5 Kuwait City $1,231 $6,847 $8,655 $11,514 $17,953
6 Riyadh $1,708 $5,986 $8,513 $12,903 $25,421
7 Manama $1,004 $3,900 $6,904 $9,823 $24,912
8 Istanbul $2,100 $3,785 $6,885 $16,094 $36,570

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: