Dubai Education System: A Complete Guide

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Before the 1960s oil boom, the schooling system in the UAE was limited. Today, the country stands as a leader in Middle Eastern education, boasting some of the region’s finest schools and strong higher education opportunities. In Dubai, nearly 200 private schools cater to around 300,000 students including both Emirati and expatriates. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, is home to approximately 296 public schools. Education holds a prominent position in the UAE’s development strategy, acting as a catalyst for economic and business growth. While government schools maintain gender separation, including distinct school hours, the quality of education is equivalent for both male and female students.

In this blog, you will get to read more about the Dubai schooling system, top international schools in Dubai, Dubai school fees, documents required for enrolment and many others.

Let’s discuss in detail!


Education in Dubai offers diversity with both public and private schools. The education system here in Dubai with private institutions comprises the majority with a percentage of approximately 90. Meanwhile, these private schools often offer a range of curricula, including American, British, French, Asian (Pakistani and Indian) and many others. According to recent research, approximately 40% of students in the UAE attend private schools. Some of the schools are specialize in offering foreign language education to expatriate communities, while still preserving cultural ties and adhering to the curricula of student’s home countries.

Key points

  • It is not mandatory for children to attend school. If parents want, they can send or they can do homeschool. Pre-Kg starts from 3+. KG starts from age of 4.
  • Same rule applicable for British kids as they should turn 4 before enrolling KG 1.
  • UAE citizens have access to free public education at both primary and secondary levels.
  • Up until 2001, expatriate children were not permitted to enroll in public schools in the UAE. This policy contributed to the expansion of a wide range of international schools in the country, many of which maintain worthy educational standards. Given its status as a prominent expatriate hub, Dubai hosts one of the most substantial concentrations of international schools worldwide.

Top international schools in Dubai

Dubai hosts the best international schools in all types of curricula as mentioned above. Here are the recently ranked top 10 international schools in Dubai for primary, secondary, and college levels education:

  • GEMS Wellington International School (starts from ages 3+)
  • GEMS Dubai Academy (3+)
  • Repton School from 3+ age.
  • King’s School, Al Barsha for 3+ age.
  • King’s School, Dubai (ages 4-9)
  • Horizon English School Dubai (ages 4-9)
  • Dubai College (ages 10+)
  • Dubai English Speaking School (ages 3-9)
  • Jumeirah English Speaking School (ages 3+)
  • Dubai British School (ages 3+)

All these schools received an ‘outstanding’ rating in the year 2020.

Private schools in Dubai

Dubai has approximately a total of 209 private schools. Non-Arab students might need to take Arabic language classes until grade 9, as it totally depends on school you enroll. There is a wide range of national curricula available, including options from Canada, the US, the UK, Russia, Japan, Iran, and more.

Many of these schools offer tertiary education for students aged 15-18. The school week typically runs from Monday to Friday, with specific school hours determined by each institution.

As of 2019, 17 schools rated outstanding, where 28 schools rated very good, 74 schools rated good, 52 schools rated acceptable, and 5 schools rated weak in Dubai.

Average school fees in Dubai

School fees in Dubai currently vary such as

  • From AED 12,723 ($3,463/£2,674) per year to AED 64,093 ($17,449/£13,475).

You can find more cheapest option if you are Asian with different Asian schools in the UAE. This has led many expatriate parents to consider schooling here in the UAE.

Most international schools have a ‘rolling admissions‘ policy, allowing families to apply at any time of the year. However, due to limited spaces, particularly in primary schools, it is advisable to apply early to secure a spot at your preferred institution.

Documents required for Dubai school enrolment

Here is the list of essential documents you’ll need to ensure a smooth enrollment process of your child.

  1. Valid passport copy
  2. Emirates ID copy
  3. Birth certificate attested
  4. Parents passport and visa copy
  5. Applicant passport and residency visa copy
  6. Passport size white background photos
  7. Parents work details
  8. Vaccination card

Nurseries in Dubai

Dubai offers a wide array of nurseries, each with its distinctive approach, location, and educational style. When making this important decision, consider the following factors:

Educational approach

Reflect on the nursery’s teaching approach and methods. Ensure it aligns with your own educational values and goals for your child.


Dubai is a multicultural city with over 200 nationalities of expats. Look for a nursery that promotes diversity and cultural awareness, encouraging an inclusive environment for your children to grow more.


Evaluate the nursery’s facilities, play areas, and learning resources. A well-equipped environment can greatly enhance your child’s learning experience.

Parental involvement

Explore opportunities for parental involvement. Nurseries that encourage parent-teacher partnerships can lead to a more enriching educational journey.


Consider the nursery’s proximity to your home or workplace. A convenient location can make daily drop-offs and pick-ups more manageable.

Extracurricular activities

Some nurseries offer additional activities beyond the core curriculum. These can provide valuable opportunities for skill-building and socialization.

Reviews and recommendations

Seek feedback from other parents or online reviews to gain insights into the nursery’s reputation and the experiences of other families.

Remember, the best nursery for your child is one that aligns with your family’s unique values, needs, and aspirations. Take your time to research and visit different options before making your decision.


If you are relocating and moving to Dubai with your family. The first thing that comes to mind as a parent is where to find a good school. Especially when you are moving from countries with a well-known education system. Don’t need to worry about that, as Emirates Business Setup is here to help you with all the process required for schooling in Dubai. We are here to help you with all the guidance required according to your needs. Additionally, we can recommend the best schools in the UAE which suit you the best. The admission fees, yearly basis fees, the curricula, each, and everything we can handle for you and your child. Contact us to secure the best future for your kid!


What is the education system like in Dubai?

The education system in Dubai follows the guidelines set by the Ministry of Education in the UAE. It comprises both public and private schools that offer primary and secondary education. Education is compulsory for all Emirate residents from primary to secondary level.

Are there any international schools in Dubai?

Yes, international schools are popular in Dubai and serve the whole expatriate community residing in the UAE. International schools in Dubai include British curricula, American curricula, and many others. 

What is the difference between public and private schools in Dubai?

Public schools in Dubai are funded and overseen by the government, offering education at no cost to students.

On the other hand, private schools charge tuition fees and have more modern technology with extra-curricular activities.

How does the curriculum in Dubai schools differ from other countries?

Schools in Dubai may follow a national curriculum, such as the UAE Ministry of Education curriculum, or an international curriculum like the British, American, or IB curriculum. However, this is the reason that the curriculum in Dubai offers diversity and differs from other countries.

Is Arabic language learning compulsory in Dubai schools?

Yes, the Arabic language is a mandatory subject in private and public schools in Dubai. Students are required to study Arabic as part of the curriculum to preserve the country’s cultural heritage.

How are schools regulated in Dubai?

In Dubai, schools are regulated by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). KDHA is responsible for overseeing the quality of education in the emirate. It sets standards for schools, conducts regular inspections, and evaluates academic performance to ensure that schools are meeting the required standards issued by the MOE (Ministry of Education).