Dubai-based school operator GEMS Education announced that it will open its first school in Qatar on September 7.
GEMS American Academy-Qatar, an American curriculum school, will have up to 1,550 students from Kindergarten to Grade 5 during the first year. The school will expand to secondary education in subsequent years, the operator said in a statement.
Qatar is set to see a rise in the number of international schools owing to a large and growing demand for quality educational institutions in the Gulf state.
According to a recent report by the International School Consultancy Group, the number of international schools in Qatar is predicted to increase as the country’s Supreme Education Council recently approved 26 new private schools out of the 90 applications received.
The report added that the Middle East is also one of the fastest growing international school markets in the world.
Cashing in on this boom, GEMS Education announced aggressive expansion plans last year.
The operator revealed plans to build almost six schools and create around 10,000 new school seats a year. The majority of its expansion work is expected to be in the UAE, which accounts for around 95 per cent of the firm’s business, the company’s finance chief told media recently.
Nicholas Guest added that the group has plans to expand in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Africa though the UAE will remain the company’s core market.
The company is currently the largest education provider in the UAE and has 39 schools catering to around 90,000 students.
Guest said that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) are expected to grow by 20 per cent each year.
The company also sold a $200 million sharia-compliant hybrid bond in November to fund its expansion plans.
GEMS Education could also be looking at an initial public offering in the future but has no immediate plans, Guest said.