GCC private education expanding rapidly, hits $5bn

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GCC private education
Growing population, robust economy and investments in schools helps GCC private education sector grow rapidly reaching $5 billion

The private education market in the Middle East is the fastest growing in the world. With an increasing number of international schools being built, strong population growth and continued economic expansion, the value of the GCC private education market has risen to 5 billion USD.

This is according to an IIR Middle East report on ‘Trends in Private Education Investment and Expansion in MENA 2013’.

“There is no doubt that private education investment expands more rapidly in this region than anywhere else in the world,” said Ralph Tabberer CEO of BBD (Better Broader Deeper) Education and Chairman of this year’s Education Investment MENA Conference. “The GCC is the crucible for how schools will develop in the future. While the rest of the world is experiencing public sector cuts with little school expenditure, private education in the GCC is growing rapidly.”

According to Tabberer, Dubai is the “healthiest” in terms of private education growth, followed closely by Abu Dhabi and Qatar. This is in stark contrast to the West, where austerity measures and public spending cuts are restricting the growth of both private and public education.

“All those interested in the growth of the sector are now looking to the Gulf and many are exploring the new opportunities. This includes investment banks and private equity companies as well as the world’s top schools,” added Tabberer.

Al Masah Capital in their MENA Education report says that the public and private education market in the MENA region is estimated to be worth USD96 billion by 2015; with the GCC region alone being worth USD61 billion of this. The private education market in MENA and GCC is estimated to be worth USD11.2 billion and USD5.5 billion, respectively, by 2015.

Meanwhile, Forbes Middle East reports that the GCC private school system revenue is expected to more than triple by 2020 to $17 billion, with the enrollment reaching around 30% of all K-12 students.

Speakers at the IIR event will discuss how increasing domestic and expatriate wealth in the region is causing more and more families to enroll their children into private education establishments. The increased demand in the region, coupled with a growing population of incoming expatriates, is increasing demand for private education across the pre-KG, K-12, higher and vocational sectors.

Ashwin Assomull, Partner at The Parthenon Group, UAE and speaker at this year’s summit agrees. “Private education in the region continues to outpace growth in the public sector. Both the higher education and K-12 segments are growing rapidly across MENA. One factor that has contributed to this growth is the increase in expatriates in the GCC, which has risen by 20 percent since 2005.”

“In higher education in the UAE, the Western private sector is experiencing the highest growth at 15-20 percent per annum compared to 2-6 percent for non-western and government-aided universities,” he said. “The UAE has one of the largest premium international K-12 markets globally, in part due to the high level of expatriates. The UAE’s market size is larger than those of China, Saudi Arabia and India.”

Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director of TECOM’s Education Cluster which incorporates Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City and speaker at this year’s conference said:

“We have long seen the growth potential in the region’s higher education sector – indeed, that is what spurred us on to open our first universities at Dubai Knowledge Village in 2003. Ten years later, we have seen a further 25 world-renowned academic institutions open up across DKV and DIAC, in direct response to rising student numbers. Not only that, the UAE is now recognised as the most attractive destination for higher education amongst emerging market economies.”

The Summit will examine investment, expansion and partnership opportunities for investors and operators in the private education market in MENA, and takes place from October 21-23 at The Address Hotel, Dubai Mall. It will highlight the major opportunities for education operators, investors and financers to expand in the Middle East.

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