English boarding school to open on Saadiyat Island

Cranleigh School is to open a boarding school on Saadiyat Island in 2014, but some parents question whether there is demand for it. Courtesy of TDIC
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ABU DHABI // The emirate's first boarding school - and its biggest campus - will open on Saadiyat Island in 2014.

Cranleigh School, an English school founded in Surrey in 1865, will be developed by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC).

The 70,000-square-metre campus will accommodate about 1,600 students aged from three to 18. Most pupils are expected to be day students.

It will join several other British curriculum schools in the capital and is the second boarding school to open in the UAE. The prestigious Brighton College opened just last year while the British School Al Khubairat has been running since 1968.

Cranleigh will fall under the remit of the Abu Dhabi Education Council. Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, director general of Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), said it was part of the council's strategy to increase access to quality private schools.

"Adec has been supporting the development of world-class private schools to help encourage quality education," he said. "By attracting leading education institutions such as Cranleigh to Abu Dhabi, we are supporting the emirate's long-term educational vision."

The school will be located in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island, next to Manarat Al Saadiyat. It will be close to the new campus of New York University Abu Dhabi, which is due to open at about the same time, as well as a preschool nursery.

Notable former students of the UK school include Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian newspaper, and the actor and playwright Patrick Marber.

However, some parents questioned whether there was demand for a boarding school in Abu Dhabi.

Although the first boarding school in Abu Dhabi, Cranleigh will not be the first in the UAE. The UK's Repton School opened in Dubai in 2007.

However, fewer than 4 per cent of its Dubai pupils board - just 60 boys and 20 girls from a total of 2,150 - and come from countries such as Mozambique, Nigeria, the United States, Kazakhstan, Russia and Iran. Fees for boarders can cost up to Dh145,000 per year.

Repton, founded in the UK in 1557, was the UAE's first "brand campus". It too is preparing to open a school in the capital.