International Education in Dubai
Dubai is, without a doubt, the original expat city. The vast majority of its 3.3 million residents are expatriates - in fact, just 15% of the population claim to be UAE nationals. International trade, global transport, world finance, luxury tourism - it all happens here, in this desert metropolis that really only gained global fame in the past few decades.
As the biggest expat hub in the world, Dubai also has one of the highest concentrations of international schools than anywhere else. Demand for international schools is so high that new schools spring up everywhere, almost every month. This has advantages and disadvantages.
More schools means more school places, slightly less competition, and a better chance for your child to get an impeccable standard of education. However some of these new schools are run by for-profit businesses, and so are run like a business. This is especially true when it comes to fees.
Dubai has never been a cheap destination for international education, but many factors push prices up to sky high heights. Building materials need to be imported, and teachers need to be sourced from abroad and paid accommodation expenses on top of their hefty salaries. However for the sometimes astronomical yearly fees, your child gets world class facilities, stellar extra curricular programs, and some of the best teachers on the planet. So it’s all relative.
If you’re concerned about a chosen school’s academic credentials, the best strategy is to look for international schools that have been established for many years already. Look for schools that have sister campuses in other countries or cities too, and that are well-regarded in the education sector both in Dubai and internationally.
British, Indian, American, and International Baccalaureate curricula win the day in Dubai’s international schools. European curricula can be found, but are not as commonplace. If you really want to however, you can find any curricula under the sun here - such is the variety on offer. English is the most common language of instruction by far, but students also learn Arabic as standard.
Most schools accept applications year-round and have a rolling admissions system. That said, international schools are in huge demand and there are often limited places, especially in the most popular and well-regarded schools. Competition is often the highest for primary school places, and there may be several ‘screening’ rounds before your child is accepted even at primary level.
Despite the wealth of choice and the rolling admissions system, you’ll still need to apply early to give your child the best chance of getting a place. There are long waiting lists in many schools, and some ask for deposits a year in advance to secure a place. It’s also worth noting that international schools in Dubai do not usually accept children under 4 years of age.
Dubai is a city that has rapidly developed in a short space of time. Believe it or not, many long-term expats can remember there being only a handful of schools to choose from, and being able to get from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes max.
Sadly, those days are long gone. Traffic is becoming more and more of a problem in the city, and gridlocks are becoming more and more common. Keep this in mind if your chosen school offers bus transportation for your child. It may sound like a helpful service, but the reality - sitting in traffic jams in intense heat, morning and evening - may not be so good for your child’s wellbeing.
Below, we have compiled our top 10 international schools in Dubai. However, there are another 118 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 Dubai based on your requirements.