Educational Business in the UAE

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The education sector in the United Arab Emirates is a relatively young market that attracts students from all over the world. The number of school-aged children is increasing every year as the population of the Emirates grows. The teaching staff comes from different countries, bringing together some of the best educators. International educational institutions also enter the market. Authorities take pride in having built one of the most competitive systems in the Middle East. This explains investors' desire to invest in the educational business in the UAE.

A quarter of the state educational institutions belong to the company GEMS Education, but the situation in the private sector is not so straightforward. Therefore, opening a nursery, school, or university can be a profitable venture.

Prospects for Private Education Businesses in the UAE

The decision to open an educational business in the UAE is influenced by its prospects. Tens of thousands of people immigrate to this country annually. Often, they move here with their families, so both the overall population and the number of children in need of preschool, school, and higher education are growing. The UAE has one of the highest immigrant-to-native population ratios in the world, with the majority of the population being expatriates representing around 200 nationalities.

There are several advantages to launching an educational business:

  • Ease of setting up the business: The country has a special licensing authority to standardize education.
  • Government support: To diversify the UAE's economy, which was previously reliant solely on oil and gas revenue, the government invests in various business sectors, including education.
  • Full ownership: Foreigners can have 100% ownership of mainland companies and free zone entities, meaning it can be a wholly-owned school or other educational institution.
  • Opportunity to organize e-learning: It acts as a supplement to the main educational process.
  • No import or export duties on goods intended for the educational process.
  • Multicurrency payment system.

Furthermore, there is the possibility of hiring tutors and teachers without adhering to government quotas.

Private Schools in Dubai: Foreigners Choose the Best Education for Their Children

Dubai is the most popular emirate among foreigners in the country. It has over 170 educational institutions with more than 300,000 students from 180 countries.

Since most residents are expatriates, the system is adapted for foreigners. Every third institution operates under the British system. Popular programs also include French, Chinese, and Indian ones.

Foreigners can study not only in private but also in public institutions, although few choose this option. State schools also require payment, and they have several drawbacks (from the perspective of many foreigners):

  • Gender-segregated education: Boys and girls study separately in high school.
  • Religious education: Islam is preached in all public schools.
  • Language of instruction: Children are taught in Arabic in public schools.

Therefore, foreigners often prefer private institutions.

Development of Education: How the UAE Made Education a Priority

Compulsory primary education in the UAE was introduced in 1971, meaning the education system is just over 50 years old. Its youth is its main advantage, as it has absorbed the best methodologies from around the world. Currently, the literacy rate in the country is 95%, and children are taught several languages. While there was only one university in the UAE a few decades ago, there are now over a hundred institutions of higher education (including branches of top global universities).

Four out of five residents in the UAE are foreigners, and children from different countries attend schools. The government is interested in highly qualified specialists, so education is given great attention. Starting from school, emphasis is placed on ensuring that a child not only acquires knowledge but also can unleash their own potential.

The first stage of the educational process is kindergarten, attended by children aged three to six. It usually operates based on a school. After kindergarten, it will be easier for a child to adapt to society, as they will already have a basic level of knowledge.

Compulsory education starts at the age of six and lasts for 12 years. There are three levels of schools:

  • primary (grades 1–5);
  • middle (grades 6–9);
  • high (grades 10–12).

Children graduate from school at the age of 18.

Education Business in the UAE

In Dubai, there is a special authority that regulates the private education sector called the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). Currently, it regulates over 30 education sectors.

To operate a business in the UAE, including in education, you will need to obtain a license. This applies to education as well. The Department of Economic Development handles permits. However, before applying to this body, you will need to obtain approval from the KHDA. The premises where the educational process will take place must comply with the requirements of the Dubai Civil Defence (the organization responsible for emergencies).

In the education business, there are several types of licenses:

  • Fire Safety Training – occupational safety sphere;
  • Language Training – foreign languages;
  • Professional and Management Development Training – economic direction (marketing, management, etc.);
  • Computer Training – computer literacy;
  • Education Support Services – preparatory classes for university admission;
  • Child Skills Development Training – preparatory classes before school.

If the business is related to driving education, you will need to obtain a license for Motor and motorcycles driving institutes.

Pros of Education in Dubai

There are several positive aspects of studying in the most popular emirate of the UAE:

  • Diversity of private schools. Their number has increased significantly over the years.
  • Prestige. Diplomas are recognized worldwide.
  • Support for advanced academic programs.
  • Instruction in English in schools. In addition, other languages are also taught.
  • Dubai is one of the most developed cities in the world with a low crime rate.
  • Most city residents are foreigners, so the education process is adapted to them.

Common Specializations

To open a private university in the UAE, you need to know which specializations to teach. For educational business to be successful, the most in-demand fields must be chosen. Experts predict that digitization, automation, artificial intelligence, and other technologies will change the labor market in the near future. Technical skills are already a priority, along with teamwork and communication skills.

To earn a decent salary in the UAE, young people pursue the following professions:

  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Architect
  • Manager
  • Teacher
  • Engineer
  • Financier

Therefore, these specialties are the most in-demand.

Education in Dubai Universities

Various programs are offered in educational institutions in the UAE. This applies not only to the learning process but also to admission and accommodation. However, there are common rules for everyone. Most public and private universities adhere to the British education system. It assumes 12 years of secondary education, so students from Russia with 11 years will have to make up the difference in the UAE. Admission can be done in two ways:

  • Transfer to a Dubai university after a year of study at a Russian university.
  • Complete a Foundation preparatory program.

Many choose the second option. It not only compensates for a year of study but also helps adapt to the new country.

The documents for admission may vary, but in most cases, the package includes:

  • Certificate (for undergraduate admission), bachelor's degree (for master's admission), master's degree (for doctoral admission)
  • Application
  • Photo
  • Identification document
  • International English language proficiency certificate

To study at a university, a foreigner will need a student visa. Often, universities actively assist in obtaining it. The validity of the permit is limited to one year, after which it will need to be renewed.

Educational business in the UAE is a promising direction for international investors. However, it is necessary to take into account the nuances of local legislation. To avoid mistakes, you can turn to the consulting company The Level Consulting. Its specialists will help with opening bank accounts, processing any documents, finding an office, and resolving other issues.

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