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UAE Schools for Expats

Expat Zone presents the UAE educational landscape here, especially for expat families looking for the right schooling options in different emirates like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, and Ras Al Khaimah. Let’s break down what you need to know about schools and education systems available for foreigners from UK, USA, Russia and more places...

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Pros & Cons for Schools in Dubai, USA, UK

As an ex school teacher who has had the opportunity to work in the UK, USA, and now in Dubai, I can offer some firsthand insights into the differences in schooling systems across these regions. 

Here’s a list of pros and cons for schools in the UK, Dubai, and the USA:

United Kingdom Schools


  • Structured Curriculum: The UK offers a rigorous and standardized curriculum, which is highly respected worldwide.
  • Holistic Education: Focuses on a broad development, integrating sports, arts, and academics.
  • Diversity: Schools are culturally diverse, providing a rich environment for personal development.


  • Weather: The cold and damp weather can be a downside for outdoor activities.
  • Cost: While public education is free, living costs are high, and private schooling can be very expensive.
  • Pressure: High stakes exams (GCSEs, A-Levels) can be stressful for students.


Dubai Schools


  • International Exposure: Schools offer various international curricula and a multicultural environment.
  • Facilities: Modern facilities and resources, with significant investment in educational technology.
  • Career Opportunities: Being a global hub, Dubai offers vast career opportunities for graduates.


  • Expense: Education is expensive, particularly at international schools.
  • Cultural Adaptation: Adapting to local customs and the educational system can be challenging.
  • Heat: The extreme heat for much of the year limits outdoor activities.


United States Schools


  • Flexibility: Diverse educational approaches and flexibility in curriculum choices.
  • Innovation: Emphasis on creativity and innovation in teaching methods and curriculum.
  • Resources: Generally well-funded public schools, especially in affluent areas, with a wide range of extracurricular activities.


  • Inequality: Quality of education can vary dramatically depending on geographic and socioeconomic factors.
  • Cost of Higher Education: College education can be exorbitantly expensive without scholarships.
  • Safety Concerns: Higher incidence of school safety issues, including bullying and violence.

What Types of Schools Are Available in the UAE?

What are Dubai Public Schools?

These are funded by the UAE government and primarily cater to Emirati citizens. The curriculum mainly features Arabic, with English as a secondary language.

What are Dubai Private Schools?

Private schools in the UAE offer a variety of curricula including British, American, International Baccalaureate (IB), French, German, and Indian CBSE. They are regulated by the Ministry of Education but are not managed directly by the government.

What about Dubai International Schools?

These schools follow international curricula and are very popular among expats. They provide diverse educational systems from various countries, catering extensively to the international community here.

When Should You Start the Admission Process?

The admission process should ideally start a few months before the academic year begins in September. Many schools also have mid year intakes, depending on availability. It’s advisable to contact schools directly for the most accurate and updated admission timelines.

Read below for more updated information for 2024 – 2025

Primus School UAE

Primus Private School

Parents looking to enroll their child must complete and submit the online registration form.


Admission for Pre-KG:

According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), children registering for the academic year 2024-2025 must be 3 years old by 31st March 2024. Admission of underage children is not permitted. An oral assessment with the child is required for admission.


Admission for KG 1:

For the academic year 2024-2025, the KHDA stipulates that children must be 4 years old by 31st March 2024. Underage children will not be admitted. Admission will only be granted following an oral assessment with the child.


Admission for KG 2:

Children registering for the academic year 2024-2025 must be 5 years old by 31st March 2024 as per KHDA guidelines. Underage children will not be admitted. Admission is granted after an oral assessment.


Admissions for Grade 1 to 12:

For children registering in Grade 1, they must be 6 years old by 31st March 2024, according to KHDA guidelines. Admission is contingent upon review of the child’s previous and current academic reports and an oral assessment. All admissions must be approved by the Ministry of Education. No provisional admissions are allowed.


Admission Hours:

Monday to Thursday: 08:30 AM to 3:00 PM

Friday: 08:30 AM to 10:00 AM

Sunday: 09:00 AM to 12:30 PM



Documents Required at the Time of Admission:


  • One copy of the child’s birth certificate (in English or Arabic)
  • Copies of the child’s passport, valid visa, and Emirates ID
  • Three passport-sized photographs
  • A copy of one parent’s passport, visa, and Emirates ID
  • A copy of the vaccination card
  • One copy of the original mark sheet from the last examination
  • Copies of the final report from the previous academic year and the midterm report of the current academic year for students entering Grade 1 or above
  • Original documents (birth certificate and passports) must be presented for verification at the time of admission.

Transfer Certificate Requirements:

For students from other Emirates, the certificate must be attested by the educational authority of that Emirate.

For Gulf country students, attestation by the Ministry of Education in that country is required.

For students outside the UAE:

The certificate must be attested by the Education Officer of the Zone/District/Area.

For CBSE/ICSE students, attestation by the concerned Regional Officers is necessary.

The Education Officer/Regional Officer’s seal and signature must be attested by the Indian Consulate in Dubai and the Foreign Affairs Ministry in UAE.

Post Box No.62012
Al Warqaa 1, Dubai, UAE
Tel: 04-2800691
Fax: 04-2800692


Gems Private School Dubai

Gems Private School

At GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai, we strive to provide a straightforward admission process while complying with KHDA and GEMS Education policies. Our school offers co-education from Kindergarten to Grade 4. From Grade 5 onwards, only girls are admitted. It’s important to note that while boys can study up to Grade 4, the school does not guarantee placement for boys beyond this grade.

Admission Process Overview:

The first step in the admissions process is to complete the online registration in October each year. Parents should fill out the Student Registration form on our website to register their interest.


KG1 Admission:
Children must be 4 years old by 31st March of the admission year to enroll in KG1.


Grade 1 Admission:
Children must be 6 years old by 31st March of the admission year to enroll in Grade 1.


Documentation Required:

Four photocopies of the student’s passport with a valid UAE visa.

Five recent photographs of the student (size 6×4 cm).

Three photocopies of the student’s birth certificate (in English or Arabic), along with the original for verification.

A copy of the Emirates ID for the child and the parents, plus photocopies.

Photocopy of the mark sheet from the last examination passed (for Grade 1 and above).

Original vaccination card and one photocopy.

Original Transfer Certificate/School Leaving Certificate from the last school attended, duly attested according to the following guidelines:


For students from India:

Verify the original Transfer Certificate (T.C.) with the Local Education Authority where issued.

Attestation by the Indian Consulate in Dubai and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dubai/Sharjah-UAE.


For students from Gulf Countries (excluding UAE & Oman):

The T.C. must be attested by the Indian Consulate and the Local Education Ministry in that country, as well as the External Affairs Ministry and the UAE Consulate or Embassy there.


For students from Oman:

Complete all attestations except for the Indian Consulate.


For students from other emirates within the UAE:

The T.C. must be attested by the Ministry of Education of the respective emirate.


For students from schools in Dubai:

Transfer Certificates are processed online by the previous school.


Late Admissions (after June 15th):

A studying/discontinued T.C. valid for 30 days from the last date of attendance is required. All attestations as described above apply.


Attendance and School Timings: 

Regular attendance is crucial for students to fully benefit from the educational programs. CIS opens at 7:20 AM, with the following schedule:

Gates Open: 7:00 AM

FS1 – FS2: 7:40 AM to 12:10 PM

Y1 – Y13: 7:40 AM to 3:00 PM

School operates Monday through Friday, with classes on Friday ending at 11:30 AM. Our weekend is Saturday and Sunday.

Enrichment activities and ECAs are scheduled during school hours for all students.


Reporting Absences:
If a child is absent, parents should use the PARENT PORTAL to report the absence early in the day. For foreseeable absences, please notify the school in advance.


41 St., Al Warqa’a 3 Dubai , United Arab Emirates


American International School Dubai UAE

American International School

As an expat, I am here to present how the American International School in the UAE organizes its educational offerings, starting from kindergarten through to high school.



At the kindergarten level, our school aligns with regulatory guidelines to determine age requirements and the overall grade placement of each child, tailoring to their individual learning needs. Here’s what we focus on:

We do not assess children for specific academic abilities.

Instead, through interactive sessions either individually or in small groups, our teaching staff evaluates:

The child’s independence from their parents.

Their ability to converse with adults.

Their skills in following simple instructions.

It’s important to note that children in KG1 must be toilet trained.


Grade 1

Entry into Grade 1 hinges on both age requirements as per regulatory guidelines and successful registration:

We conduct placement assessments to understand the baseline and support needs.

Meetings with the Elementary School team are arranged if necessary.

For local applicants, assessments are on school premises, whereas for those abroad, online assessments are managed under a qualified teacher’s supervision.


Grades 2 to 5

Admissions for Grades 2 to 5 are decided based on the child’s readiness and registration completion:

Placement assessments are done for baseline understanding and support planning.

Local applicants are assessed at school; international applicants can have assessments arranged online.


Grades 6 to 8

For middle school, the procedure is similar:

Admission is based on readiness for the specified grade and completed registration.

Local assessments are conducted on premises, while international students can be assessed online.


Grades 9 to 12

High school admissions require additional documentation and assessments:

Students must submit their previous school’s high school transcript.

Placement assessments in certain subjects help gauge readiness.

Admitted students will consult with a Career Counselor to determine necessary courses for graduation.

Local assessments are done at school, and international assessments online.


Document Submissions

Applicants must provide several documents:

Recent passport-size photos.

Copies of birth certificate, vaccination card, and passport with valid UAE residence visa (for non-citizens).

Family Book copies (or mother’s Family Book Log for Emirati mothers), Emirates ID, and medical files from the previous school.

Last report card and a transfer certificate.


Transfer Certificate Process

Outlined by the KHDA:

Fill out the application form for a Transfer Certificate at your child’s current school.

Pay the KHDA fee, submit the receipt to our Admissions Department, and then provide the TC from the previous school.

This structured approach ensures that each child’s educational journey at the American International School is well-supported and aligned with local educational standards, preparing them for a successful academic future in the UAE.


PO Box 87727 6th Street, Al Qusais 1, Dubai United Arab Emirates


Reach British School UAE

Reach British School UAE

Let Expat Zone share how Reach British School manages its admissions process, prioritizing smooth integration and fair practices from the early years through to secondary education.


Admissions Priorities & Times

Age for Admission

Children must be at least 3 years old for FS1 and 4 years old for FS2 by August 31st. Students are placed in appropriate year groups with their peers based on their ages as per school year dates, following the ESIS system.


Re admissions

Students can re-register for the following academic year unless they face significant behavioral issues, and fees must be current for re registration eligibility.


Waiting Lists

If a year group reaches capacity, children may be added to a waiting list. Parents will be notified once a space becomes available and must respond within one week.



Siblings of current students receive priority for admission into full year groups.


Applications for Next Academic Year

Applications are accepted year-round, with admissions assessments beginning in January. The admissions team aims to respond within five working days.


Staff Children

Children of school staff are guaranteed a place, subject to admissions policy compliance, but must still complete all required documentation.


Accepting an Offer and Registration

Upon offer, acceptance or rejection is required within five days. Necessary documents and registration fees must be submitted to confirm enrollment.


Placement of Students After Enrollment

Students are placed in year groups based on their age as of August 31st. Class assignments consider nationality, language ability, gender, and additional learning needs to foster a supportive environment.



The school maintains a non-discriminatory selection process to enhance cultural diversity.



The school is co-educational, aiming for a balanced gender ratio and plans to extend co-education to all primary grades by the 2022/23 academic year.


English Language

Proficiency is not a barrier in Early Years but is assessed in Primary and Secondary to ensure curriculum access.



Individuality is respected; siblings, including twins, are often placed in separate classes to address their unique needs.


Additional Learning Requirements

The school supports both gifted students and those with special educational needs, potentially at an additional cost.



Positive student behavior is crucial for a conducive learning environment.


Medical Records

Up-to-date medical records are required, including immunization and allergy information.


Class Capacity

Class sizes are capped at 25 students in Early Years and 30 students in other grades to ensure quality education.

This framework ensures that Reach British School provides a structured, inclusive, and equitable education environment, welcoming a diverse student body each academic year.


P.O. Box 12986 Abu Dhabi UAE



Dubai UAE School Fees

As an expat zone guide, let us break down the schooling options in Dubai for expats, categorized by their rating and affordability.

The following tables provide a snapshot of selected schools with a focus on their age ranges, locations, and fee structures below.

Outstanding Dubai Schools from Dh40,000 or less

SchoolAge RangeAreaFees (AED)
Victory Heights Primary SchoolPrimary FS1-Y6Victory Heights38,222 – 52,121

Very Good Dubai Schools from Dh40,000 or less

SchoolAge RangeAreaFees (AED)
MSB Private SchoolFS1-Y13Al Nadha Second11,545 – 27,045
The Winchester SchoolFS1 – Y13Jebel Ali First14,237 – 31,760
Raffles International School – Umm Suqeim South branchFS1-Y13Umm Suqeim Third32,430 – 80,760
GEMS Royal SchoolPrimary FS1-Y6Mirdif38,331 – 48,331
GEMS Wellington AcademyFS1 – Y13Dubai Silicon Oasis38,415 – 84,987
GEMS New Millennium SchoolY10 – Y13Al Khail30,854 (Y10) – 31,025 (Y13)

Good Dubai Schools from Dh40,000 or less

SchoolAge RangeAreaFees (AED)
St Mary Catholic High School DubaiY1 – Y13Umm Hurair First8,643 – 16,791
Apple International SchoolFS1 – Y12Al Qusais First8,985 – 20,571
The Westminster SchoolFS1 – Y13Al Qusais First9,200 – 17,368
Al Diyafah High SchoolFS1 – Y13Al Nahda Second11,143 – 23,678
GEMS Metropole School – Dubai branchFS1 – Y13Motor City36,560 – 48,748

FAQs About Schools in Dubai

As someone providing insights to expats, I’ve compiled a handy FAQ to address common queries about education in Dubai for foreigners:

Is education free in Dubai for foreigners? 

No, education is not free in Dubai for foreigners. Public schools are generally reserved for UAE nationals, and expatriates typically send their children to private schools, which charge tuition fees.

How much does it cost to go to school in Dubai for foreigners? 

The cost of schooling in Dubai varies widely depending on the school’s curriculum, reputation, and facilities. Fees can range from approximately AED 10,000 to over AED 100,000 per academic year. Many schools also charge additional fees for enrollment, uniforms, books, and extracurricular activities.

Can foreigners go to public school in Dubai? 

Foreigners are generally not eligible to attend public schools in Dubai, which are subsidized by the government for UAE nationals. Most expatriate children attend private schools offering various international curricula.

Is Dubai good for education? 

Dubai offers high standards of education, with many private schools providing excellent academic programs. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) actively regulates the education sector, ensuring schools meet quality standards. Dubai hosts a variety of international curricula, including British, American, IB, and more, catering to its diverse expatriate population.

What are the disadvantages of studying in Dubai? 

While Dubai provides diverse educational opportunities, there are some potential downsides:

High Costs

Education can be quite expensive, particularly at higher-rated schools.

Cultural Differences

Adapting to a new educational system and cultural environment can be challenging for some students.

Temperature Extremes

Outdoor activities may be limited during the extremely hot months.

Temporary Nature of Expatriate Life

The transient expat community can affect long-term educational continuity for some students.

Does a child born in UAE get citizenship? 

No, the UAE does not grant citizenship based on birthplace alone. Citizenship is generally restricted to children born to a UAE national father or, in some cases, a UAE national mother. Expatriates living in the UAE typically retain their original nationality.

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