Stability, quality of teachers and facilities are key challenges this UAE term

ABU DHABI // Pupil stability in a country with a large population of migrant expatriates is an annual challenge for many schools.

Consistency in education will be one of the main focuses again this year, with increasing uncertainty among pupils in terms of their movements around the Middle East.

"With the nature of the Middle East and the expat environment, students tend to be fairly volatile in movements, so it's trying to ensure we have enough students staying as long as we can to ensure consistency," said Mark Ford, principal at the Dubai British School.

"The Middle East is an interesting area and the volatility of what's happening in the region is always a challenge."

Peter Winder, principal at Al Diyafah International School in Abu Dhabi, said: "Dubai and other emirates are very transient places to live in, so we have to ensure education is as high-level as it can be in a manner that's engaging, stimulating and built on prime learning."

Remaining competitive on the market is another challenge, as an increasing number of schools open up in the region.

"More schools are opening in the Middle East and the Far East and they're very attractive to professionals," Mr Ford said. "So it's about trying to make sure we stay competitive and recruit the best teachers."

Schools have to secure high-calibre teachers to be able to offer pupils the best education.

"We had an 85 per cent retention rate with our teachers, so we're a stable school and that's part of the reason for our success," said Wayne MacInnis, principal at Al Raha International School in Abu Dhabi.

"We have teachers who have been here for years and we go for the best we can get."

With many families moving from other emirates to Abu Dhabi, accommodating students will also be a crucial issue.

"We have to make sure to cater for as many children that apply to the school because, unfortunately, there's a limited number we can take," Mr Winder said.

Mr MacInnis said: "We have a waiting list for a lot of the classes, particularly in the primary section. So we've had to turn down quite a few students."

Even Dubai schools are feeling the pressure to offer enough places.

"We've got a huge demand for places so a big challenge is to offer as many people as we can appropriate education," Mr Ford said. "But our numbers are restricted to 1,100 so we're having to turn people away."

For newly established schools, gaining trust from parents is at the top of the agenda.

"One issue is establishing, maintaining and consolidating an active and positive partnership with parents," Mr Winder said.

For others, logistical challenges lie ahead.

"We're having a problem with our car park, so we're looking to get some support from the municipality to make it a safe area for our students," Mr MacInnis said.

"There's too much congestion right now and we need to put in infrastructure to make it safer."

Accreditation visits will also require schools to intensify their efforts.

"We've got some coming up in March so we have to prepare for that by doing a pretty intense self-study," Mr MacInnis said.

The emphasis will continue to be on the pupil, however.

"With us, as a British curriculum, we want kids to make choices about their learning, be actively engaged and not passive recipients," Mr Winder said.

"Because research confirms that the more senses you stimulate, the greater the retention of learning."

How I connect with my kids when working or travelling

Little notes: My girls often find a letter from me, with a joke, task or some instructions for the afternoon, and saying what I’m excited for when I get home.
Phone call check-in: My kids know that at 3.30pm I’ll be free for a quick chat.
Highs and lows: Instead of a “how was your day?”, at dinner or at bathtime we share three highlights; one thing that didn’t go so well; and something we’re looking forward to.
I start, you next: In the morning, I often start a little Lego project or drawing, and ask them to work on it while I’m gone, then we’ll finish it together.
Bedtime connection: Wake up and sleep time are important moments. A snuggle, some proud words, listening, a story. I can’t be there every night, but I can start the day with them.
Undivided attention: Putting the phone away when I get home often means sitting in the car to send a last email, but leaving it out of sight between home time and bedtime means you can connect properly.
Demystify, don’t demonise your job: Help them understand what you do, where and why. Show them your workplace if you can, then it’s not so abstract when you’re away - they’ll picture you there. Invite them into your “other” world so they know more about the different roles you have.


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The rules of the road keeping cyclists safe

Cyclists must wear a helmet, arm and knee pads

Have a white front-light and a back red-light on their bike

They must place a number plate with reflective light to the back of the bike to alert road-users

Avoid carrying weights that could cause the bike to lose balance

They must cycle on designated lanes and areas and ride safe on pavements to avoid bumping into pedestrians


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)


Main display: 7.6" QXGA+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, Infinity Flex, 2176 x 1812, 21.6:18, 374ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz

Cover display: 6.2" HD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2316 x 904, 23.1:9, 402ppi, up to 120Hz

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 740 GPU

Memory: 12GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB (online exclusive)

Platform: Android 13, One UI 5.1.1

Main camera: Triple 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 50MP wide (f/1.8) + 10MP telephoto (f/2.4), dual OIS, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom, portrait, super slo-mo

Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, full-HD@60/240fps, HD@960fps; slo-mo@60/240/960fps; HDR10+

Cover camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Inner front camera: Under-display 4MP (f/1.8)

Battery: 4400mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Samsung Pay)


Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; dual nano-SIMs + eSIM

Colours: Cream, icy blue, phantom black; online exclusives – blue, grey

In the box: Fold5, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh6,799 / Dh7,249 / Dh8,149

Expert advice

“Join in with a group like Cycle Safe Dubai or TrainYAS, where you’ll meet like-minded people and always have support on hand.”

Stewart Howison, co-founder of Cycle Safe Dubai and owner of Revolution Cycles

“When you sweat a lot, you lose a lot of salt and other electrolytes from your body. If your electrolytes drop enough, you will be at risk of cramping. To prevent salt deficiency, simply add an electrolyte mix to your water.”

Cornelia Gloor, head of RAK Hospital’s Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy Centre 

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can ride as fast or as far during the summer as you do in cooler weather. The heat will make you expend more energy to maintain a speed that might normally be comfortable, so pace yourself when riding during the hotter parts of the day.”

Chandrashekar Nandi, physiotherapist at Burjeel Hospital in Dubai

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 

Rating: 2/5


Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Most Read
Top Videos

The UAE Today

The latest news and analysis from the Emirates

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The UAE Today