Dubai school says it is first in Middle East to accept cryptocurrencies for fee payments

The move comes as Dubai adopts a new law to regulate virtual assets

Citizens School in Dubai, set to open in September, will accept both Bitcoin and Ether. Photo: Citizens School
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A school in Dubai that is scheduled to open later this year will allow parents to pay tuition fees using cryptocurrencies.

The UK curriculum Citizens School, designed and developed by Al Zarooni Emirates Investments and set to open in September, will accept Bitcoin and Ether.

It claims to be the first school in the Middle East to allow the use of cryptocurrencies.

Payments using cryptocurrencies will be accepted through a tie-up with a digital currency platform that processes payments and automatically converts them to UAE dirhams, the school said.

Citizens School has not disclosed which platform it will be using. Bitcoin was trading at $47,650 at 10.15am on Tuesday while Ether was trading at $3,412.

“Introducing the ability to pay tuition fees through cryptocurrencies goes beyond just providing another payment option,” said Hisham Hodroge, chief executive of Citizens School.

“It is aimed at creating an interest in growing trends and breakthrough technologies that will have a profound effect on the lives of young generations.

"It is also a means to further drive interest in the applications of blockchain — a technology that Citizens School intends to deploy, in time, across several aspects of its academic and administrative operations.”

The 43,000-square-metre school campus has capacity for 2,600 children between the ages of three and 18. Fees range from Dh36,000 ($9,802) for FS1 up to Dh52,000 for Year 6. A monthly payment plan for 10 months is available.

The move by the school comes as Dubai accelerates towards adopting and regulating digital currencies. This month, the emirate adopted a law that regulates virtual assets including cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and non-fungible tokens.

The Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law aims to create a framework to protect investors and provide international standards that will promote responsible business growth in the emirate.

Dubai also established the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority as an independent body to regulate the sector throughout the emirate, including special development zones and free zones excluding the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, secured a virtual asset licence to operate in Dubai, as has FTX Europe.

The digital economy contributes about 4.3 per cent to the UAE's gross domestic product, which is equivalent to Dh100 billion, government figures showed.

“A while ago, cryptocurrency was only a floating term among well-versed investors. However, today cryptocurrency is becoming much more mainstream, reshaping the traditional financial system,” said Adil Alzarooni, founder of Citizens School.

“By introducing this new payment facility, we look forward to enhancing the role of young generations in achieving the UAE’s digital economy. As more people embrace the era of digitalisation, today’s children will become the entrepreneurs and investors of tomorrow.”

Updated: March 29, 2022, 7:29 AM