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UAE education boom: 18 New schools opening in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2024 and beyond

The UAE education boom is in full swing, with at least nine new schools set to open their doors within the next two academic years, and an overall figure of at least 17 new schools opening in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the near future (and these are just the ones we are allowed to talk about). 

Background – The Most Exciting Education Market in the World for New Schools

The UAE is set to retain its status as the world’s most dynamic and exciting education market, with news breaking of even more new schools opening in Dubai and across the UAE.

Just today, GEMS Education has confirmed the transformation of its Tier 1 British GEMS Royal Dubai School Primary into an-all though school with the building of an all new landmark Secondary to open in 2026Read the full story here.

GEMS Education has also announced the opening of yet another new branch of their affordable British School brand, GEMS Founders School Dubai South (see the story here), this August 2024, on a campus located on Expo Road in Dubai. 

Last week, the renowned Reigate Grammar School (UK) announced their intention to open three new schools in the UAE. This news came not long after Wedad Saada, Director of Ignite School in Al Warqa, gave a speech noting her intention to open five new branches of the American curriculum school. Together, the announcements add eight additional schools to an already burgeoning ‘new schools’ pipeline. This makes a total of 17 new schools set to open in the UAE in the coming years, with rumours of even more on the horizon.  

As yet, neither Reigate nor Ignite have hinted at an opening date for their new campuses. Nor is it clear where these schools will be located. The recent announcements do, however, add to a seemingly ever-growing list of confirmed (and rumoured!) new schools set to land on UAE shores.

Two new affordable British Schools for the UAE

The last-minute announcement of GEMS Founders School Dubai South just a few months before it opens in August 2024 makes it the second GEMS Founders School opening this year, with the net-zero campus of GEMS Founders School Masdar City also set to open its doors after the Summer break. The Dubai South branch will initially cater to FS1 to Year 8, gradually growing to be an all-through school with a capacity of 2,500 students. Registrations open on 1 June 2024 – however, spaces are sure to fill up quickly, as the burgeoning Dubai population means that parents are often struggling not only to find an affordable school option for the child, but a school that has any availability at all. 

Known for shaking up the usual UAE school business model, the Founders brand of GEMS schools sets out to provide high-quality UK-curriculum education at exceptional value. GEMS Founders School Dubai South is slated to be a slightly more premium version of the usual Founders brand, with a higher percentage of UK-trained teachers (60%) than in the other Founders schools. Although fees are yet to be confirmed, they are predicted to be roughly 15% higher than those of GEMS Founders School – Al Mizhar where 2024-25 tuition costs range from AED24,306 for Foundation Stage up to AED36,987 for Year 13. As a result, spaces are sure to be highly sought after.


The two new Founders schools opening this year follow the original opening of GEMS Founders School – Dubai (read our review here) in 2016 and GEMS Founders School – Al Mizhar (read our review here) in 2018. 

Read more: The top affordable British schools in Dubai 

From Reigate to the Middle East, 3 new UK Schools?

Speaking to, a Reigate Grammar School source indicated their intention to create places for more than 6000 students, in schools across the country.

“Our long-term plan is to open 3, or more, Reigate Grammar School branch campus schools in the UAE each with a capacity in excess of 2000 students.

“Although we cannot share yet the exact locations of the schools, or the architectural design of each, we will keep updates as soon as we are able to release this information in the public domain.”

Five More Ignite Schools set to teach US Curriculum and Embrace UAE Values

During a speech at a recent education conference Ignite School’s Director, Wedad Saada, set out her intention to open five more schools.  The Gulf News reported that Ms Saada’s speech included the following comment;

“We want to ensure that everybody can access quality education at affordable or reasonable prices.  This commitment to high-quality education is reflected in our unique selling points. All the campuses we plan to open will have the same unique selling points: American licensed teachers delivering American education while valuing and embracing UAE and Islamic values, within a safe, fun, loving, and caring school environment.” Wedad Saada, Director, Ignite School

The UAE’s Burgeoning ‘New School’ Pipeline

With nine schools having opened their doors in 2023/24 alone, there are now at least ten confirmed new schools opening in Dubai and Abu Dhabi between 2024 and 2026, subject to regulatory sign-off, and more we cannot publish:

Opening date School Curriculum Location Capacity
2024-2025 Gordonstoun Abu Dhabi UK and MOE Abu Dhabi 2,000
2024-2025 Rashid Latifah School reopening UK and MOE Dubai 2,000
2024-2025 Dubai British School, Jumeira   Dubai 2,000
2024-2025 GEMS Founders School Dubai South  UK Dubai  2,500
2024-2025 GEMS Founders School, Masdar N/A Abu Dhabi N/A
2024-2025 Noya British School UK Abu Dhabi 2500
2025-2026 Dubai British School, Mira UK Dubai 2,000
2025-2026 Saadiyat British Academy UK Abu Dhabi 2,600
2025-26 Dubai English Speaking School UK Dubai TBC
2025-26 GEMS Royal Dubai School UK Dubai TBC

The Rumour Mill – Hints and Whispers of Yet More Schools

Beyond the schools which have been officially confirmed (or publicly announced), the editorial team at understand that there are still more schools in the works. As previously reported by our team, Interstar Education plans to open two schools: one an Indian curriculum school and the other a premium British all-girls’ boarding school, both aiming for an opening date of 2026 or earlier, subject to approvals.

Additionally, there are murmurs of a top secret ‘Tier 1’ British curriculum school brand, renowned for its history and prestige, potentially opening an outpost in the UAE. Although specific details are yet to be revealed, this development adds to the excitement and anticipation within the education sector. There are also rumours that one of Dubai most adored KHDA Outstanding schools for younger children is to open a second branch.

Huge Population Boom Drives Demand for School Places

The influx of schools pencilled to open for the first time is a clear response to the country’s fast-growing population. Over the past decade, the UAE has experienced significant population increases, primarily due to its economic success, enviable lifestyle and stellar reputation as a global hub for both business and tourism. According to the UAE National Bureau of Statistics, the population has grown from around 8.2 million in 2010 to over 10 million in 2023, with expatriates now comprising approximately 88% of the total population.

The UAE’s cities, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are expanding, and fast. A drive through either metropolis usually offers the surprise of a brand-new residential area having (seemingly!) sprung up overnight. As new neighbourhoods emerge, the need for conveniently located schools is sure to increase. expects that the planned three Reigate and five Ignite schools will be strategically located to serve such new communities.

International Standards Are a Vital Part of the Appeal

With a whopping 88% of the UAE population being made up of expatriates, international schools bring with them standards and best practices which appeal to parents from around the world. The UK, IB and American curricula offered by many of these schools are particularly popular due to their global recognition and emphasis on holistic development.

Navigating the Choices, An Anxious Experience

For parents, an expansive range of different schools and curricula means more opportunities to find the perfect fit for each unique child. However, more choice may also means parents experience more anxiety over making the ‘right’ choice. As schools announce their opening dates and locations, it will be important for parents to tap into the school news, reviews and expertise of, visit campuses, meet with faculty, and understand each school’s unique offerings and values.

Oversupply of School Places? takes the view that the rapid expansion of the educational sector in the UAE is a positive development. Currently most schools are full to bursting with very limited availability in limited years if at all.

We need more schools – and urgently. 

However, our long experience in this unique country and education sector leads us to sound a note of caution: there is potential here for an oversupply of school places over time.

Oversupply is a storm UAE schools have weathered before.

In the past, we have witnessed increased competition among schools driving many institutions to lower fees, or offer more incentives – all seemingly to the benefit of families and children. 

As appealing as this might sound in the current economic climate, where schools are struggling to keep up with demand and parents struggling to secure places, this can also result, in extreme cases, in schools struggling to maintain enrolment numbers, particularly in those schools that do not match the quality or reputation of more established institutions.

As with almost everything in life, a happy medium is what is needed. As it stands, we still need more schools, and the latest crop of announcements and rumoured openings should give parents confidence that the future is bright. 

Further information

Demand in Dubai on school places sees GEMS Education and Innoventures Education step-in to build new schools. Families from around the world relocate to Dubai as safe haven.

Demand in Dubai on school places sees GEMS Education and Innoventures Education step-in to build new schools. Families from around the world relocate to Dubai as safe haven.

Read about how GEMS Education and Innoventures Education are responding to massive new demand for schools in the UAE here. 

Read more about GEMS Education investment in new schools here.

Read about Taaleem’s new schools here. 

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About The Author
Editorial Team
Live news, features and in-depth reviews reporting from the Global Editorial and News Desk teams in the UK and the UAE. The SchoolsCompared Editorial Team combines more than a century of global experience in journalism. To contact us with news in confidence please email [email protected].

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