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Top Schools in the UAE – The Awards Official Shortlist 2019
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Top Schools in the UAE – The Awards Official Shortlist 2019

by Jon WestleyFebruary 14, 2019

The Judges

The editors of create the shortlist, and then finalists for each category, which are then sent, with justifications and evidence, to the Top School Awards judges.

The judges are responsible for taking the finalists and ranking them from 1st to 5th. 

Each place is awarded a score – 5 for first place, 1 for 5th. The school with the highest score wins the award.

Isobel Abulhoul
, OBE, CEO & Trustee – Emirates Literature Foundation
Isobel Abulhoul came to Dubai in 1968 and co-founded the Al Ittehad Private School in 1974; a new model of education, with children receiving a bi lingual education, and learning‭ ‬ ‭ ‬through‭ ‬ ‭ ‬an‭ ‬ ‭ ‬integrated‭ ‬ ‭ ‬day.‭ ‬That‭ ‬ ‭ ‬was‭ ‬ ‭ ‬followed‭ ‬ ‭ ‬soon‭ ‬ ‭ ‬after‭ ‬ ‭ ‬with‭ ‬ ‭ ‬Isobel‭ ‬ ‭ ‬co-founding Magrudy’s, a bookshop chain, in 1975.

In ‭ ‬2008‭ ‬ ‭ ‬Isobel ‭ ‬founded and directed the Emirates Airline‭ ‬ Festival of Literature, the Middle East’s largest celebration of the written and spoken word. In 2013, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and also the Festival patron, issued a Decree forming the Emirates Literature Foundation, naming Isobel as one of the trustees on the Board. In addition, Isobel also holds the position of CEO of the Foundation. She is also a Trustee of the International‭ ‬ Prize ‭ ‬for‭ ‬ ‭ ‬Arabic ‭ ‬Fiction‭ ‬ ‭ ‬Board,‭ ‬ Secretary‭ ‬ ‭ ‬General ‭ ‬of‭ ‬ ‭ ‬the‭ ‬ Kalimat Foundation and Director of the Board for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library.

Isobel has ‭ ‬received several awards and accolades‭ over ‬the‭ years ‬such ‭as Cultural Personality of the Year from Dr. HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah in 2010, and an OBE award by HM Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 2012, Cultural Icon of UAE Award at the 3rd Petrochem GR8! Women Awards – Middle East 2013.‭ ‬She‭ ‬was also selected‭ ‬as‭ one‭ ‬of‭ the‭ ‬Most‭ Influential Brits‭ ‬and‭ ‬the‭ ‬Most Inspirational Woman living in‭ ‬ the UAE in‭ May 2013.‭ She ‬also ‬received the‭ Special Cultural Award from the Al Owais Creativity Awards 2013, ‘Imprint of Thought’ award at the‭ ‬Watani‭ ‬Emarat‭ ‬Humanitarian‭ ‬Work‭ Award‭ ceremony‭ ‬2013.‭ ‬She‭ received‭ ‬the Outstanding‭ Contribution‭ ‬Award ‬at‭ ‬the ‬TimeOut‭ ‬Kids ‬Awards, Femina ‬Unstoppable Woman Award 2015.

Isobel Abulhoul is currently busy with the Foundation and its year round activities.

Jonathan Hughes -D’Aeth

Jonathan Hughes -D’Aeth was educated at Haileybury College before studying Geography at Liverpool University, and Education at Queens’ College Cambridge.

He taught at Rugby School and at Melbourne Grammar School before becoming Headmaster of Milton Abbey School in Dorset in 1995.

He was Chairman of the UK Boarding Schools Association in 2005 and served on the committee of the Society of Heads.

He was appointed as Headmaster of Repton School Dubai in 2010. He was privileged to lead the School for 7 years before moving to become the Chief Education Officer of EKI. He is now relishing retirement and is enjoying gently giving advice on Education to anyone who asks!

Apollo Perelini 

Apollo Perelini is a former Samoan dual code international and professional rugby player. Apollo’s rugby career has seen him play for championship-winning St Helens Rugby League and Sale Sharks Rugby Union in the United Kingdom, Auckland and North Harbour Rugby in New Zealand, and internationally for the Manu Samoa Rugby Union and Samoa Rugby League teams, playing in World Cups for both codes.

Apollo has been the High Performance Director for the UAE Rugby Federation and also is the owner of ‘Apollo Sporting Academy LLC’.

Shaun Robison

Senior education leader, passionate about education with a unique mix of educational and entrepreneurial experience. A founding partner of the Education Intelligence Group, Shaun has written feasibility studies, built and tested financial models for schools and early learning centers and successfully managed their openings within Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Shaun was the Head of School Development for Sobha Developers and managed the opening of Hartland International School in 2015. Shaun also managed the opening of IDEA Early Learning Center in 2016 in Victory Heights, Dubai and serves as a governor to the Center.

Shaun is the co-founder of the UAE Learning Network – the largest online network of teachers within the UAE. He is a Research Associate for Newcastle University and a member of the British Educational Research Association.

Sarah Rogers

Sarah is an educationalist with a passion for early years and lifelong learning. She has lived in the UAE for 22 years, and has two children, one 21 and the other 19-years-old.

Sarah is the founder, owner and CEO of 2 educational training companies based in Dubai. The two companies, Early Years Educational Services (EYES) established in 2008, and Quest Direct, established in 2014, provide training and support for early years and primary school professionals respectively.
Sarah has taught in the UK and UAE and deputy head of an outstanding school in Dubai.Sarah regularly speaks at local educational shows such as IPSEF and GESS. She is working on her Educational Doctorate with the University of Reading.

Lyn Sopellsa

Lyn lived in the UAE for 17 years and all three of her children have been educated in part or full in Dubai, in both the UK and IB curricula. She has been through the process of searching for a new Sixth Form school for her younger daughter to enable a switch of curriculum for the final two years.

Lyn’s interest in education started as a Parent Relations Executive/ Registrar for one of the GEMS schools. She also worked as the Registrar for a new school. This was followed by eight years working in Relocations.
Lyn joined WSA very early in its development in late 2013 and has previously headed up both sales and consultancy for In 2017 she took on the exciting new role of Community Manager and Editorial Consultant to help us deliver school news and information to those that need it, where they need it.

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]