The schools owner and operator Al Najah Education plans to expand in the UAE and enter Kuwait and Qatar this year on expectation of rising demand for private schools. Its pipeline of investments is valued at about US$150 million over the next couple of years. In the UAE, where it already owns and operates Horizon schools in Dubai, it expects to acquire two more while also exploring greenfield projects in the country and in Oman. In Kuwait and Qatar it expects to acquire a school in each of these markets over the next two years. "The sector has become increasingly competitive with a surge in the number of schools in the region," said Nrupaditya Singhdeo, the chief executive of Al Najah Education. "[In the UAE] with fees regulated by government authorities and escalating costs, we need to keep a close watch on our operating costs and drive cost synergies across our schools to maintain margins." The fees at K12 schools in Dubai range between Dh32,000 a year and Dh74,000 a year for its two British curriculum schools. The Indian curriculum school has a fee range of Dh14,000 to Dh19,000 a year. In Dubai alone, an additional 77,300 student places will be needed between 2016 and 2020, or 52 new schools, according to Colliers International. Dubai had 173 private schools with 265,299 students in the 201516 academic year. Al Najah Education will also add to its number of childcare centres, nurseries and training centres in Singapore and enter new markets in South East Asia, including Indonesia and Malaysia. In Singapore, it owns 25 facilities, including tuition centres and 19 nurseries, including one under the PreSchoolers Childcare and Development Centre. "There is a thriving private education sector in Singapore and Malaysia, [and] Singapore has remained at the forefront, not only in the region but also globally [in quality of education]," Mr Singhdeo said. "Educational facilities provided by Malaysia and Indonesia remain better than the global average, while the same remains inadequate in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam." Al Najah Education also expects to expand in those three countries. It acquired Brooklyn Melodies Music Center in Dubai in April last year and will add about three facilities this year to its existing base of 10. Al Najah, which was founded in 2012, owns and operates two British curriculum schools in Dubai – Horizon English School and Horizon International School. In 2015, it acquired the Sabari Indian School in Dubai, and owns the A’soud Global School, a British curriculum school it launched in Muscat last year. Dubaibased Al Najah Education is an alternative investment wing of Regulus Capital, also based in Dubai.