International Education in Abu Dhabi
It shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that international education in the United Arab Emirates isn’t cheap. As a global economic powerhouse, its capital Abu Dhabi offers excellent job opportunities and sky high salaries to expats. But it comes at a cost - eye-watering yearly school fees for your child!
It’s not all bad news though. The standard of education on offer in Abu Dhabi is among the best on the planet. And while the city’s international schools may not be budget friendly, they are somewhat less expensive than neighbouring Dubai. Any of the international schools in Abu Dhabi will set your child up to become a highly skilled professional in adult life. They emphasise maths and science subjects, and languages are taught to a world class standard, too.
The British curriculum dominates in Abu Dhabi’s international schools. To a lesser extent, so do other English-speaking countries’ curricula - American, Canadian, and Australian in particular. Some European and Asian curricula can also be found however, so there is a wide variety to choose from. English is the language of instruction in most international schools, with Arabic offered as a compulsory second language.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) is the government organisation responsible for regulating international schools in Abu Dhabi. Every two years they assess and rate schools all over the capital and publish detailed results. These reports are freely available from the ADEK website, and can be a useful resource for your school search.
Remember not to take any school’s rankings as the ‘be all and end all’. There are many other factors to consider; the school where your child will be happiest may not necessarily be at the one that tops the ADEK rankings.
The majority of Abu Dhabi’s international schools begin lessons for children as young as 3 or 4 years of age. If you don’t want to start your child in school so young, you don’t have to - the majority will accept children of all ages and stages of education. It is somewhat easier, however, to get a spot in the more sought-after schools if your child is enrolled at the earliest possible stage.
There is one aspect of education in Abu Dhabi that you will have no choice in. If you are not an Emirati citizen, you will be required to pay fees whether your child is attending a public or private school. Education in the United Arab Emirates is only free for Emirati citizens. In almost all schools, students are also required to wear uniforms.
Gender segregation is still common in public schools in the UAE, but is much less common in international schools. The school day will start at around 7am or 8am and finish up at 2 or 3pm, depending on the age of the students. Most schools are centrally located in downtown Abu Dhabi.
Below, we have compiled our top 10 international schools in Abu Dhabi. However, there are another 54 schools to choose from in the city. You can find the best international school for your child by personalising your results. Just fill in your search criteria, and we will calculate a personal score for every international school in Abu Dhabi based on your requirements.