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For many residents in some communities in Dubai, gone are the days when they had to sit in traffic to drive their children to school. This as 11 new schools are opening or have opened this year in the emirate, according to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).
Mohammed Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Permits Commission at the KHDA, says some communities will have two new schools: Credence High School and Safa Community School in Al Quoz, Bilva Indian School and Capital School in Al Ghusais, and Kings' Al Barsha and Nord Anglia International School in Al Barsha.
The rest of the new schools are Gems FirstPoint School in The Villa community, Kings' Nad Al Sheba, Ontario International Canadian School in Mirdif, Gems Metropole School in Dubai Motor City and Dovecote Green Primary in Dubai Investments Park.
Al Barsha, which will have the first Nord Anglia school in Dubai, is particularly considered a strategic location because of the growing number of residents and rising business activity in the area.
“Al Barsha has already grown significantly in the past ten years from a large patch of desert to a vibrant community with the Mall of The Emirates, Barsha Park, numerous hotels and fantastic residential opportunities," says Kevin Stedman, Chief Education Officer of Kings' Schools. "It makes sense for other social facilities such as hospitals and schools to be located here too."
Previously based only in Umm Suqeim, Kings' Dubai has expanded to Al Barsha and Nad Al Sheba. The school said it decided to open new schools after facing a very long list of applicants.
“As the only school in Dubai to achieve the outstanding rating for six years since the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau began, we have been inundated with applicants seeking places," says Stedman. "Being such a popular school with little turnover, our waiting lists for all year groups are extensive.
"We were delighted to be granted land in Nad Al Sheba and Al Barsha, allowing us to offer the opportunity of a Kings' education to many more children."
The opening of Kings' Barsha will cater to residents in Al Barsha, Umm Suqeim, Arabian Ranches, Meadows, The Lakes, The Springs and Dubai Marina. Kings' School Nad Al Sheba, meanwhile, is positioned to serve residents in Mirdif, Al Warqaa, Meydan and Downtown Dubai.
"Nad Al Sheba has further growth potential as the area is not yet well-developed," says Stedman. "Meydan District is still under development. It comprises residential, business and sporting communities and as the development continues and road access improves, residents will be searching for schools in the vicinity. We believe that within a short time frame, this area will be very popular with local and expatriate families."
While Nad Al Sheba has many burgeoning communities within its reach, Umm Suqeim is one of the more established areas for some of the best schools in Dubai. However, despite the number of schools coming up in other areas, it appears that the desirable residential locale will not be affected.
Finding new locations
"Umm Suqeim and Jumeirah still remain popular residential areas," says Stedman. "However, if expatriates wish to purchase property in the UAE, they are only entitled to do so in areas such as Arabian Ranches, The Villa and Emirates Hills.
"This, along with the rise in rents in Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim, has led to a shift over the past five years away from the more traditional residential areas."
With the opening of new schools in The Villa and Dubai Motor City, Gems Education now has more than 6,000 places in Dubai alone, says Dino Varkey, Group Executive Director and Board Member of Gems Education.
"We have 28 schools in Dubai and 14 across other emirates," says Varkey. "Two additional schools will open in Dubai this month – Gems FirstPoint School and Gems Metropole School, both of which will cater for FS1 to year eight in their first year and teach the national curriculum for England."
Gems Metropole School comes with libraries, sports facilities including a swimming pool, digital media rooms, science laboratories and music and art rooms.
"The proximity to Dubai Sports City and Studio City means it is well placed to develop specialisms in health and wellbeing and digital media, and will be able to forge links with organisations and businesses in these areas," says Varkey. "Our new schools will provide options for families living in these new residential communities and those from other locations in the city."
The new schools are also proving beneficial to property investors. As schools open in areas further out of the city, real estate demand and prices in some newer communities could see an increase.
"There is strong consumer demand for good schools," explains John Stevens, Managing Director of Asteco. "Strong demand drives prices higher, particularly for a product such as real estate. Furthermore, good schools provide stability for a community and that is good for property values."
Wafa Ghannam, Manager - Residential Sales and Leasing at Better Homes, says having a school in an area can help lease or sell properties quicker, in addition boosting real estate prices.
"Most families look for a house near their children's schools and landlords are aware of this," she says. "However, they cannot increase the rent higher than the market price."
On the flip side
Mouhanad Fadel, also a Manager - Residential Sales and Leasing at Better Homes, says landlords renting out family homes view it as a plus if a new school is being built in the community.
However, while new schools are a positive move for property owners and landlords alike, sometimes there are drawbacks. For instance, having more schools can potentially affect the traffic situation in the area.
"Families generally expect traffic around the schools during rush hour and would not think of it as a problem," says Ghannam. "But people without children may be less than keen to live very near a school."
See related stories:
Communities catering to families abound in the UAE
Mirdif remains attractive to many residents in Dubai
Tecom, one of Dubai's hiddne residential gems
Source: Helga Jensen-Forde, Special to Property Weekly