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Educational System in the UAE

The one tip that you hear expats living in the UAE repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to the UAE. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that the UAE is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in the UAE.
|-Educational System in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) boasts a diverse and inclusive educational system that caters to its multicultural population. The system is divided into several stages, each designed to provide students with a comprehensive learning experience. This guide aims to provide expats with a detailed overview of the UAE’s educational system, including the main stages of education, enrollment procedures, language requirements, availability of bilingual schools, types of private schools, and the feasibility of homeschooling and online schooling.

What are the main stages of education in the UAE?

The UAE’s educational system is divided into four main stages: Kindergarten, Primary, Intermediate, and Secondary. Each stage is designed to cater to the developmental needs of students at different ages, focusing on various academic and life skills.


Kindergarten in the UAE is for children aged 4 to 5. It focuses on developing basic literacy, numeracy, and social skills. The curriculum is designed to be interactive and engaging, promoting a love for learning from an early age.

Primary School

Primary school in the UAE caters to children aged 6 to 11. The curriculum is more structured, focusing on core subjects like Mathematics, Science, and English, along with Arabic and Islamic Studies for Muslim students.

Intermediate School

Intermediate school is for students aged 12 to 14. The curriculum expands to include more complex subjects, preparing students for the challenges of secondary education.

Secondary School

Secondary school caters to students aged 15 to 18. It offers a diverse curriculum, including advanced academic subjects and vocational courses. Students are prepared for university education or the workforce.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Expats can enroll their children in UAE schools by submitting an application to the desired school, along with necessary documents such as passport copies, visa copies, birth certificates, and previous school records. Some schools may also require an entrance exam or interview.

Can my children, who are still learning Arabic, enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Arabic can enroll in public schools in the UAE. These schools offer Arabic as a Second Language programs to help non-native speakers.

Are there public bilingual schools in the UAE?

Yes, there are several public bilingual schools in the UAE, offering instruction in both Arabic and English. Admission for international students typically involves an application process and possibly an entrance exam.

What types of private schools are common in the UAE?

The UAE hosts a variety of private schools, including International Schools, British and American Schools, Indian Schools, and French and German Schools. These schools follow their respective national curriculums and cater to the diverse expat population.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Expats in the UAE typically prefer private schools due to the flexibility of curriculum choices, language of instruction, and cultural familiarity.

How expensive are Private schools in the UAE?

Private school fees in the UAE can vary widely, depending on the school’s curriculum, reputation, and facilities. Fees can range from AED 5,000 to over AED 100,000 per annum.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in the UAE?

Yes, homeschooling is permitted in the UAE, but it requires approval from the Ministry of Education. Homeschooled students must also take standardized tests to ensure they meet educational standards.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in the UAE?

Yes, online schooling is an option in the UAE. Several accredited online schools offer a variety of curriculums for students of different ages. However, it’s important to ensure that the online school is recognized by the UAE’s Ministry of Education.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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