Three Ways The United Arab Emirates Is Prioritizing The Education Sector

Ways The United Arab Emirates Is Prioritizing The Education Sector
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Richie Santosdiaz takes a look at how the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is prioritizing the education sector, specifically focusing on the higher education sector, in light of the country, and wider region’s, economic development and transformations

There are aspirations and opportunities for the UAE to be a leader in education, both in attracting talent and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector, coupled within the long-term fostering its own home-grown talent and innovation in knowledge. There is indeed demand and interest in the UAE from people across the world.

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This is how at present the UAE is prioritizing the education sector:


The UAE hosts a significant proportion of expatriates, where people are lured to move there generally for the lifestyle, great salary package, and tax-free salaries. For a country of under 10 million people, at least 80% are expatriates. Estimates of the British living in the UAE range from 120,000 to almost 250,000; for the Americans they number around 50,000 in the UAE and the Canadians around 40,000.

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Within the education sector, there is a big demand for English speaking teacher across the UAE. A great part of that is the Ministry of Education’s 10-Year Strategic Plan for primary and secondary education, where they aim to improve the instruction of English across public schools in the UAE; part of that is to recruit more native-English speakers.

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There are various international institutions who have or are setting up a branch campus in the UAE and the wider region. By looking at the Times Higher Education Uni Jobs section, there was demand for various academic and administrative posts across the Middle East alone. However, for as many of them, there are even more universities local to the region who themselves potentially might be on the lookout for talent – both locally and globally. These include some of the best universities in the country like the American University of Sharjah, the University of Sharjah, Khalifa University, and the United Arab Emirates University – to name a few.

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The recent opening of the University of Birmingham’s campus in Dubai showcases an interesting position for the UAE as a regional hub in FDI from international institutions. A member of the UK’s Russell Group, the University of Birmingham joins at least 31 higher education institutions in Dubai, including 27 international branch campuses from 12 countries, including the likes of the University of Wollongong. In addition, the Rochester Institute of Technology also announced its entry in the UAE via its new campus in Dubai, an investment worth around £100 million GBP ($140 million USD). Other well-known institutions like London Business School, Hult International Business School, SP Jain School of Global Management, University of Wollongong, Middlesex University and The University of Manchester have campuses in Dubai.

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Outside of Dubai, Emirates like Abu Dhabi have prestigious international university campuses such as that of New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). Other universities in the UAE include the Paris Sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi, as well as other branch campuses of other leading universities in other Gulf countries such as Georgetown University and Carnegie Mellon. Sharjah hosts the American University of Sharjah. Finally, the UAE, in addition to international branch campuses or brands of universities from the likes of the USA, Europe (mainly UK), India and Australia, also have very prestigious public universities and other institutions – including the University of Sharjah, Khalifa University, Ajman University, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi University and the United Arab Emirates University – to name a few.

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According to Careers 360, Khalifa University, United Arab Emirates University and American University of Sharjah are ranked within the 500 best universities in the world. And note, most of the other institutions mentioned from the UAE are fall within the top 1000 best universities in the world. And with looking at prestigious global brands that have campuses in the region, mainly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the UAE – with its blend of both foreign campuses and its own institutions (both public and private) is continuing to build a growing ecosystem in the education space.

There is a growing ecosystem for talented individuals to showcase their talent across the UAE. For instance, the likes of StartAD at NYUAD and Sheera (Sharjah Entrepreneurial Centre) are helping talented individuals become entrepreneurs. This goes as part and in parallel with the country’s longer-term economic national strategy plans.


The UAE has always prioritized education and generally, in history, the Arabs have known to, helping preserve and contribute to knowledge many take for granted. At present, by looking at the government portal of the UAE, one can see the various assistance Emirati citizens can get to get into college and university, as well as seeking scholarships at home and abroad. And in the long-term, UAE has put education at the forefront to its future.

UAE Centennial 2071 is a long-term plan where the country aspires to be the best in the world with a focus on 4 pillars: economy, education, governmental development, and community cohesion. Taken from the UAE government website, with the education pillar it states: “UAE Centennial 2071 highlights the importance of excellent quality of education. Certain areas of focus in education include advanced science and technology, space science, engineering, innovation, and health sciences. Other educational measures include teaching students, mechanisms for discovering their individual talents early. On the institutional level, educational institutions are encouraged to be incubators of entrepreneurship and innovation and to be international research centres.”

The Ministry of Education also launched its National Strategy for Higher Education 2030. It will equip a new generation of Emiratis to face challenges of the future, and overall happiness of its citizens, as the UAE continues on its economic development, growth, and diversification. Also, recent changes in the UAE including student visas and 100% foreign ownership will make the country more appealing for both foreign investors and students.

The GESS Dubai education exhibition and conference was held until 28th February at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), which offers education professionals a fantastic opportunity to learn from world-leading experts on the latest education trends and developments. DWTC is also hosting other similar trade events, such as Innovation Arabia.

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