Arada, Grammar school sign agreement
Officials from Arada Reigate Grammar School and Bright Capital Investment sign the partnership agreement at Masaar. Image Credit: Arada

Dubai/ Sharjah: The UAE’s Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) education sector is experiencing a surge in investments, attracting more attention from local and international investors. With more than 100 schools likely to open in the UAE by 2030, investors – new and those with already sizeable interests - are queuing up to seize their opportunities.

Dubai Financial Markets-listed Al Mal Capital REIT (AMCREIT), the first REIT listed on DFM, announced it has acquired a 100 per cent equity interest in Carnation Education LLC on Thursday. Carnation holds real estate assets comprising the freehold land and buildings of Kent College Dubai.

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“The acquisition of Kent College is a testimony to Al Mal Capital REIT’s well-defined strategy of investing in high-quality education assets in the UAE,” said Naser Al Nabulsi, Vice Chairman and CEO of Al Mal Capital.

He added, “The acquisition has further diversified the asset portfolio, with assets across various Emirates, including Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman.”

Kent College, which follows the English National Curriculum for students from Nursery to Year 13, is built on land with a total plot area of 563,950 square feet. Carnation has leased the land and buildings to Kent College for 25 years (initially commenced in November 2017) with agreed lease rentals, which can be further renewed for a similar period.

Moreover, the acquisition has also bolstered the Assets under Management, which has touched nearly Dh 1 billion since the commencement of its operations in January 2021.

Stock Kent College
Kent College is a premium school offering the English national curriculum to students from the Nursery to Year 13. Image Credit: Kent College Photo Gallery

350-year-old school to come to Sharjah

Moreover, Sharjah-based property developer Arada also announced Thursday that it has partnered with Bright Capital Investment to bring the UK’s 350-year-old Reigate Grammar School to Sharjah megaproject Masaar.

Ranked in the top 20 private schools in the UK in 2023, Reigate Grammar School Masaar will be the first branch campus of a British school in Sharjah, Arada said in a statement. Set for completion in 2027, the school will have a capacity for 2,700 students.

Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Arada’s Group CEO, said, “Reigate Grammar School is one of the most established and respected educational institutions in the UK, with an exceptional record of academic excellence and achievement.”

He added, “This is another example of a partnership that elevates the quality of life and well-being of residents in our communities, and we look forward to working with Bright Capital Investment to bring this world-class facility to Masaar.”

What do these investments mean?

Forecasts suggest that around 150,000 students will enrol in UAE schools by 2027, requiring more international schools to set up campuses in the Emirates. Growing income levels, a large expatriate population, and increased uptake in demand from the Emirati population drive demand for premium private schools in the UAE, making the sector ripe for investments.

“As the K-12 education sector is well set for further growth as seen from the recent announcements of new schools opening in Dubai, AMCREIT is well-poised to take advantage of the strong sentiments in the sector and grow its AUMs,” said Al Nabulsi.

Campuses of the future

The Reigate Grammar School Masaar campus will include a performing arts centre, library, multi-purpose halls, STEM Centre, sports facilities and swimming pools.

Reigate Grammar School Masaar will be operated by Bright Capital Investment, a UAE-based education provider currently investing in four schools in Dubai. Established in 2010, Bright Capital Investment plans to expand across the Middle East and Africa.

Esref Temel, the company’s Managing Director, said, “Our collaboration aims to offer unparalleled academic opportunities to students in the UAE, ensuring they receive a world-class education that prepares them for global success.”