UAE education group completes Dh233m purchase of Dubai non-profit school 'institution'

Jebel Ali School, first established in 1977, will now be operated by Taaleem

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - August 31, 2016.  The soon to open Jebel Ali School along Hessa street near Remraam, failed to get an approval from KHDA this year.  ( Jeffrey E Biteng / The National )  Editor's Note;  ID 77302 *** Local Caption ***  JB310816-JAliSchool03.jpg
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Leading education provider Taaleem has completed a Dh233.5 million takeover of one of Dubai's oldest non-profit schools.

Jebel Ali School was established in 1977, originally serving the children of residents working on the construction of Jebel Ali Port, before relocating to Damac Hills in 2016.

The school's independent and non-profit status was secured in 1986 when it was given a decree from Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid, the late Ruler of Dubai.

It will now become a private school under the umbrella of Taaleem.

Alan Williamson, chief executive of Taaleem, said the group had stepped in after the school found itself in a “precarious financial position”.

“They had a Dh40 million liability, Mr Williamson said.

“It was brought to our attention that this unique school that is not for profit and was created by a decree of the rule of court would need financial support from another school operator.

“We contacted the chair of the board of governors and began a year-long discussion about ending the legal liabilities, and also purchasing the land and buildings.”

Fees at the school range from Dh45,891 per year for foundation to Dh74,950 for sixth form.

Dubai's private schools regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, has frozen tuition fees for three consecutive years, up to and including 2022-23.

Mr Williamson said any potential increase in fees would be dependent on the authority altering this stance in the future.

“Possibly there will be no fee increase because we will abide by the KHDA fee structure,” he said.

Deal 'offers solution' to school's challenges

“If KHDA gives operators the option to increase fees, then we will look at that on a case-by-case basis.”

He said Taaleem was keen to safeguard the future of the school.

“It's an institution — it's a fantastic school,” said Mr Williamson.

Tarek Alami, chairman of Jebel Ali School's board of governors, said the deal provided a “sustainable solution” to the challenges it has faced.

“I am pleased to announce that Jebel Ali School, with the full support of our external stakeholders, has joined the Taaleem Group,” he said.

“This partnership, that has become possible following extensive and constructive discussions with our landlord, delivers a truly sustainable solution to resolve the school’s long-standing rental dispute and paves the way for Jebel Ali School’s continued growth.”

Mr Williamson said it would take a significant number of years for Taaleem to get a return on the investment but that parents would see immediate improvements to infrastructure, facilities and resources.

He added that one of Taaleem's ambitions for the school was to move it up from a very good rating under the Knowledge and Human Development Authority to an outstanding rating.

Taaleem's roster of schools in the Emirates — which stood at nine only three years ago — will increase to 26 by September.

Updated: May 27, 2022, 6:04 PM