The Gulf Cooperation Council education sector is booming, backed by factors including high spending power, growing student numbers and
willingness to pay for quality education.
In its 2016 Education Report, investment bank Alpen
Capital said the number of students in the regional educa- tion sector was projected to reach 15 million in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 3.6 per cent from the 12.6 million seen in 2015.
During this period the demand for schools is expected to increase at a similar pace, with a CAGR of 3 per cent from 43,903 in 2015 to 50,978 in 2020, signifying the need for more than 7,000 schools in the next ve years.
This demand is being met with big spending from regional governments.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman dedicated 23 per cent, 21 per cent and 21 per cent respectively of their total budgets to the education sector in 2016, in comparison to 15 per cent in the US and 12 per cent in the UK, notes Fadi Adra, partner at PwC consulting unit Strategy&.
And the private sector too has an increasingly large role to play.
The bulk of future demand is expected to be for private sector institutions, with an annual average demand growth of 5.4 per cent compared to 2.6 per cent for public schools, according to the Alpen report.
“As parents are increasingly aware of the bene ts of qual- ity education, demand for international curricula schools is rising, namely among the local population. The recent decision by KSA government to allow nationals to enrol in private schools further supports this trend,” says Adra.
In its September 2016 report dubbed ‘School’s In’ real estate consultancy JLL predicts more than 1,000 additional schools will be required in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Riyadh and Cairo alone by 2020, with nancial returns and government policy to raise education standards among the driving factors.
Of these, some 350 will be in the private sector as demand from nationals, a growing expat workforce and increasing income levels translate into a greater demand for school places.