The most valuable, and fastest-growing education markets in the Middle East and North Africa are centred around the member states of the economic and security coalition the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), of which the biggest sub-markets are to be found in oil-rich Abu Dhabi and services hub Dubai.

Construction of new public and private-sector schools is likely to continue across the region over the next decade, with the total number of schools in the region set to rise to 55,704 by 2020 from 53,005 ten years earlier, according to the US’ Alpine Capital. Private schools will make up around 14 per cent of the total by 2020, an increase from 13 per cent currently.

Given the penetration of private, international education, in the region, along with the huge public-sector spending power of the Gulf states, the GCC presents the biggest business opportunities to BETT attendees. What follows is a series country briefs and directories for five of the GCC member states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – along with analyses and directories for the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, commissioned exclusively by MEED for the conference.

Kuwait

Sector Brief: With a total of 653 private schools, Kuwait has one of the most fully-developed education private sectors in the region. It is also one of the wealthiest per-capita countries in the region, and the government is again keen to improve vocational skills in order to wean the population from state jobs, with the government employing 80-90 per cent of all Kuwaitis.  

State Schools: 1,613

Private Schools: 653

2011-2012 Ministry of Education Budget: $5bn

Directory – Major Private Institutions (Pre-School, Primary Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools)

Kuwait student numbers (2009)
  Number of students
Primary Students 220,629
Secondary Students 265,268.00
Tertiary Education Students 42,398
Private School Students 163,336
Source: Alpen Capital

Oman

Sector Brief: Oman has the region’s newest public education system, and has struggled to reach the educational standards achieved elsewhere in the region, with literacy rates the lowest level in the GCC, at around 87 per cent. Given its size, the country also has a small private education sector for the region.

State Schools: 2,854

Private Schools: 133

Ministry of Education Budget 2011-2012: $2.4bn

Oman student numbers (2009)
  Number of Students
Primary Students 280,761
Secondary Students 316,548
Tertiary Education Students 77,921
Private School Students 26,589
Source: Alpen Capital

Qatar

Sector Brief: Despite its tiny size, Qatar has become a major spender on education in recent years, with spending per-student levels among the highest in the world. The government has proven especially keen to increase the level of private-sector involvement in the education sector.

State Schools: 570

Private Schools: 179

2011-2012 Budget: $5.3bn

Qatar student numbers (2009)
  Number of Students
Primary Students 85,062
Secondary Students 73,544
Tertiary Education Students 14,532
Private School Students 44,657
Source: Alpen Capital

Saudi Arabia

Sector Brief: Saudi Arabia is the biggest overall spender on education on the region, and has the highest number of schools and universities in the GCC. Procurement for the state education sector is managed directly by the Ministry of Education, and individual schools are understood to have the highest degree of independence in terms of spending in the region

State Schools: 37,145

Private Schools: 3,255

2011-2012 Budget: $40bn

Saudi Arabia student numbers (2009)
  Number of Students
Primary Students 3,271,789
Secondary Students 2,950,962
Tertiary Education Students 725,848
Private School Students 651,035
Source: Alpen Capital

UAE

Sector Brief: Although the national curriculum is administered by the federal Ministry of Education, discretionary spending and ICT policies for schools in the UAE are decided at an emirate level by individual Education Councils. Abu Dhabi is the biggest spender on public and private education in the federation, and a directory is provided for these two emirates below.

State Schools: 722

Private Schools: 1,076

2011-2012 Budget: $2.5bn

UAE student numbers (2009)
  Number of Students
Primary Students 305,288
Secondary Students 324,113
Tertiary Education Students 74,280
Private School Students 376,612
Sourcce: Alpen Capital

Bahrain

Sector Brief: Bahrain was the first of the Gulf Arab states to introduce a public schools system, and its education sector has traditionally been considered among the best in the region. Manama has been keen to introduce a greater degree of vocational training in recent years as it struggles with declining oil revenues and a series of social issues. 

State Schools: 210

Private Schools: 66

2011-2012 Ministry of Education Budget: $1.3bn

Directory – Major Private Institutions (Pre-School, Primary Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools)

Bahrain student numbers (2009)
  Number of Students
Primary Students 85,062
Secondary Students 73,544
Tertiary Education Students 14,532
Private School Students 44,657
Source: Alpen Capital