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“It’s Time to Start Building New Schools NOW…” Skyrocketing Demand. Parents Struggling to Find Places. GEMS Education and Innoventures Education Step-in.

The growth in population, as families across the world relocate to Dubai, and the wider emirates, as a safe, prosperous and happy places to raise their families, has seen severe constriction in the number of available school places, and particularly at the region’s top schools. This is already having impacts on three groups of families now struggling to find places:

  • Existing families who want to move school and upgrade the education of their children to better schools;
  • New, wealthy families relocating to the region, who want to secure places in the region’s very best schools for the first time; and,
  • New, ABCD1 families relocating to the region from all segments, causing a broader pull on places across-the-board, and at all price points and curricular.

Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer of GEMS Education, speaking with and our sister site, expects that, on the basis of current and predicted demand, its existing premium schools will be at capacity and unable to meet demand by 2024.

The leading school group has already stepped in to support families with its launch of a landmark new school, GEMS Metropole Al Waha, to support those families seeking an outstanding British education for their children.

GEMS Metropole Al Waha

The new landmark GEMS Metropole Al Waha which opened for the academic year 2023-2024

You can read about the new GEMS Metropole school here – including its specialism in aviation, engineering, electronics and sustainability. You can apply for places directly at the school here. At the time of writing, limited places are still available at the school for entry in Years FS1 to Year 8 only.

Pictured above: Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education reporting exponential growth in the demand for school places in 2023/24 – and beyond…

Last week we reported exclusively on GEMS Education’s major new investment in UAE education, with a record breaking intake of 2,445 new teachers at the largest-ever induction event for new new teachers ever held in the region. Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, speaking exclusively with SchoolsCompared here, highlighted a series of extraordinary changes that have taken place this year including that:

  • Growth rates like this have not been seen at this level in the UAE since 2015- 16 – and before this, back to 2004
  • The Growth in population is particularly fuelling demand for its premium, Tier 1 Outstanding schools with demand for places outstripping supply in this segment

GEMS Education has a proven history of stepping in at key inflection points during the growth of Dubai and the Emirates to ensure the education system could meet demand.


Many are now looking to the international education giant to again build the new schools that need to come on stream.

[You can read an exceptionally erudite and illuminating article, ‘(Dubai: Here Comes the Boom! (Ready, or Not?)’, capturing all these issues on our sister site,, here.]

Demand confirmed. Second Major Schools Group Steps in to Support Families Struggling for Places.

Pictured above, Poonam Bhojani, Chief Executive Officer, Innoventures Education, confirming the extraordinary growth in demand for places at Dubai’s top schools

Speaking with SchoolsCompared, Poonam Bhojani, Chief Executive Officer, Innoventures Education, confirmed the growing pressure on places:

“Student enrolment across Innoventures Education schools has gone up by 16 per cent, as compared to the same time last year, with an increase of 20 to 40 per cent across certain class groups.

Mrs Bhojani confirmed to us that Innoventures Education has already been swift to respond by opening a new Early Childhood Centre at its premium Tier 1 Dubai International Baccalaureate World School Curriculum International Academy (DIA) Al Barsha for children up to three years old, “making it the first ECC in the largest school campus in Dubai.”

You can read about DIA Al Barsha, a KHDA Good School with Very Good Features, here – and apply for places directly here. As of the time of writing, limited places are still available.

Mrs Bhojani explained to that the focus, in the face of growing demand, is very much on recruiting and retaining the best teachers:

“A key focus area is talent recruitment and retention to power higher student achievements.


Over the summer, our staff went through extensive training, induction and team-building sessions to ensure we hit the ground running.”

Innoventures is also massively ratcheting up investment in its schools, both in infrastructure/capital investment and the curriculum:

“School facilities have been refurbished to better prepare our students for a digital future. This year, we are excited to explore AI tools, such as Chat GPT, and gamification in learning in our schools. We are pivoting from traditional classroom setups to learner-centric pedagogy and flexible space arrangements.

“We will also be implementing several sustainability initiatives, embedded in classroom and extracurricular activities, in the lead up to COP 28 being hosted by the UAE this November. In the Year of Sustainability, our students have been passionate eco-ambassadors with initiatives such as tree planting, reducing plastic, recycling fashion competitions, hydroponics, and using solar energy.”

Mrs Bhajani concluded by explaining that, as growth in demand rises, the issue must always be about maintaining quality, something measurable not only in stellar examination results, but also in the whole child investment that is so centrifugally important in outstanding schools:

“In 2023, our students performed brilliantly at exams such as the IBDP, A-levels, and GCSEs, with stellar results, first-choice University placements, and scholarships of over USD 12.5 million. We look forward to building further on this in 2023-24, and making it a year of growth, achievement and excellence in all spheres.

“Beyond academics, Innoventures Education is proud of nurturing global citizens. Our GIVE initiative has contributed over AED 2.75 million to Dubai Cares so far, helping build nine schools in Nepal, Yemen, and Senegal – with 50% raised by the school communities, and 50%  contributed by  Innoventures Education. Our students’ walkathons, bake sales, festive markets, inter-class competitions and dress up days support the ‘Adopt a School’ initiative by Dubai Cares, enabling children in underprivileged communities to access quality education.”

The news that GEMS Education, and Innoventures Education are stepping in to support families in the face of huge new demand for places, and that such demand is only going to intensify, will come as a blessing to many families now facing a struggle to access places.

This is a time of significant change in the UAE as investors increasingly eye up the UAE for investment. Last week we reported that The English College, one of Dubai best-loved schools, had been subject to a shock takeover taken over by International Schools Partnership. You can read more on this here.

Our View: It’s time to Build Schools – and Quickly

In the often-quoted movie Field of Dreams, the promise is that “If you Build it, they will come.” Well, they have come. And are coming, The Airports have never been busier with those landing to build their dreams here. And they are coming in their tens, hundreds, of thousands; families looking for the safest, most prosperous, and happy, place to bring up a family – and one able to offer their children a future and a good life.

We are seeing the impacts of this now across UAE schools, and particularly in Dubai. Many of our best schools are now at capacity, having already responded by expanding capacity, and now having no choice but to turn families clamouring for places away.

The boom of an economy taking off is not coming – it is already here.

There is no time left to act. It takes three years to launch an average school. Even GEMS Education, with all its might, can only squeeze this time frame to 18 months, and then at a push.

Dubai’s population alone was already set to double – but it is the speed of this change, driven by the winds of global instability, that now gives urgency to the need to invest.

We must do it. And we must do it like there is no tomorrow.

It is children’s lives, their very futures, that depend on it.

Further information

Read more about GEMS Education, its world class schools for all ages – and its focus on finding the genius in every child.

Innoventures Education currently serves nearly 9000 students from more than 120 countries, overseen by a team of 1500 teachers and support staff. Five Innoventures Education schools –Dubai International Academy Emirates Hills and Al Barsha, Collegiate International School, Raffles International School, Raffles World Academy, and Raffles Early Childhood Centres offer diverse curriculum frameworks including International Baccalaureate, UK National Curriculum, American Common Core, BTEC and Early Years Foundation System. You can learn more about Innoventures Education here.

© A WhichMedia Group publication. 2023 – 2024. All rights reserved.

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

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