Over the past few years, the Middle East has emerged as a hub for international schools. A growing number of expats and affluent locals have opted for an international education for their children. The region has seen a surge in the number of international schools, which offer a variety of curriculums, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB), British, and American, among others. A world-class education has emerged as a top priority for the region, and more schools and universities are set to open up in the near future.
The influx of international schools
The demand for international education has increased in the Middle East due to the region’s large expatriate population. The region has become a hub for international businesses and investment, with multinational companies setting up offices in cities such as Dubai and Riyadh. This has led to an influx of expats, who have brought their families along with them. These families often prefer to enrol their children in international schools to ensure continuity in their education and avoid any disruption caused by frequent relocations. Additionally, the Middle East is home to a significant number of wealthy locals who value a global education for their children. Not only can this kind of education provide students with opportunities to learn new skills, but it can also help them to prepare for further study or careers in the global arena. More and more parents in the Middle East are looking to enrol their children at schools that offer an international curriculum, and offer them a more well-rounded education.
The two countries in the region with the most international students are the UAE, with 596 schools, and Saudi Arabia, with 240 schools. According to ISC Research, though, that number’s expected to grow – 42 new international schools are expected to open across the GCC region in 2023 and 2024. One of the biggest reasons for the rise of international schools is that an international education can help students to get into some of the world’s most highly-regarded universities. As ISC Research has observed – “The teaching and learning approach, exit examinations and leaving certificates offered by international schools are commonly accepted by the majority of the world’s higher education institutions including the highest ranked universities, as well as most multinational companies.”
What are the benefits of an international education?
Getting into university, however, isn’t the only reason parents prefer international schools. The three most widespread curriculums are the British curriculum, the American Schools System and the International Baccalaureate. A British education is what we offer at Aldenham Education Group – at both our schools in the UK and Aldenham Prep Riyadh. One of the most well-respected education systems in the world, the British education system is globally recognised and taught in more than 160 countries. A British curriculum ensures that if students relocate and move to another country, their education will be recognised there, and they can easily pick up where they left off.
It can also offer students a more well-rounded education. The British curriculum teaches students how to be more independent and think for themselves. A focus on extracurricular and co-curricular activities can teach students valuable critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as how to work as part of a team. Attending an international British school can also give students a chance to immerse themselves in the English language from an early age. The English language, after all, is spoken across the globe, with an estimated 1.5 billion fluent speakers, and both employers and universities consider it to be a highly favourable skill. At the same time, international schools give students a chance to meet and interact with students and teachers from different cultures and countries, and learn new languages – at our schools, for example, our students can learn Arabic, Spanish, and French.
The importance of creating global citizens
Immersing students in a multicultural environment is one of the biggest benefits of international schools. By giving them the best learning opportunities and opening their eyes to new perspectives, an international education can equip them with the skills they need to be global citizens. International schools offer students the opportunity to learn about different cultures and traditions, promoting cross-cultural understanding and tolerance. Students in these schools are exposed to different languages and beliefs, preparing them for life after graduation in today’s globalised world. This exposure to different cultures also prepares students for a diverse workforce, where cross-cultural communication and understanding are essential skills. Global citizens understand their place in the world, and have the power to interact with other cultures and nationalities – and most importantly, make a real change. It’s important that we ensure today’s students have the knowledge, skills, and values they need to create a better future.
How AEG is playing a part
By opening Aldenham Prep Riyadh in Saudi Arabia in 2022, AEG has helped to bring world-class education to Saudi Arabia. The school was the third to open its doors in Riyadh as part of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City’s International Schools Attraction Programme, but is also the first branch of an independent school in the region – it’s both owner-operated and truly integrated with our other schools. Aldenham School, in the UK, is one of the oldest schools in the country. Founded in 1597, all of our other schools benefit from centuries of tradition and academic excellence, and we’ve been able to bring an authentic British educational experience to our international students.
Before settling on Riyadh as the site of our international school, AEG conducted a detailed market study and survey. The decision to open was a result of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment’s Regional Headquarters program, which supported firms opening in the region. Last year, there was a case study conducted on AEG by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment, and the school was included in Invest Saudi’s Investment Highlights report for Q3 2022. Aldenham Prep Riyadh was in fact showcased as one of the country’s greatest recent success stories. AEG is helping the country to transform into a global centre of industry and trade, and is setting an example for other schools to follow – in fact, the number of international schools in the region is set to grow. As Shahram Hashemi, one of AEG’s Managing Partners, has explained, we are “working to open a number of schools across the Kingdom as we anticipate demand continuing to rise drastically.”
Not only can international schools teach students valuable lifelong skills, they can also set them up for success in later life. It’s no surprise that, given the choice, parents are sending their students to international schools – especially in the Middle East. At AEG, we’re always looking to the future, and aiming to ensure our students are prepared for life after school. An international education is one of the best ways of achieving this – learn more about our curriculum.