Population growth spurs GCC school construction projects

Regional demand for schools and other educational facilities boosts GCC educational construction activity

School construction is on the up [representational].
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School construction is on the up [representational].

Schools are one of the most important facilities in a growing community, and for the social and economic development of a country. With the growing demand for better educational facilities, school construction has gained a momentum in the GCC as the region moves towards a technology-driven future.

From the UAE to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, several major education-related construction projects have been launched or completed during the first half of 2019.

As the new academic year begins in September 2019, the UAE’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has announced that five schools are expected to open in Dubai, located in Al Twar 2, Al Qusais, Jumeirah Village Triangle, Al Quoz, and Jebel Ali.

According to a report by UAE state news agency, Wam, KHDA plans to open a further three schools in the city in 2020, to accommodate a total of 13,000 new students. Chief executive officer of KHDA’s permits and compliance sector, Mohammed Darwish, says: “The opening of eight new schools by 2020 will further strengthen Dubai’s private education sector and add to the wide variety of educational offerings available to parents.”

He adds that Dubai has seen a steady increase in the number of schools in the emirate. While the city had just 38 schools in 2008, it boasts 119 in 2019.

When it comes to making the education sector more competitive, the UAE is pioneering the adoption of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and automation. In March 2019, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, committed a budget of $408.4m (AED1.5bn) to building “next-generation schools” in the country.

“Our aim is to introduce a range of new ideas in the next 50 years, and foster the development of the new generation, which will accelerate our sustainable economic growth,” HH Sheikh Mohammed said at that time.

The project also aims to build sports facilities to support the long-term development of the UAE’s youth.

Abu Dhabi is also making progress with the construction of educational facilities. Abu Dhabi University (ADU) is currently building an $82m (AED301.2m) campus in Al Ain, where ground was broken in August 2018. Phase 1 of the project will cover an area of 2.8ha and comprise 70 lecture halls and laboratories, and 137 offices for staff and faculty. The facility will accommodate 2,500 students during its first phase.

Our aim is to introduce a range of new ideas in the next 50 years, and foster the development of the new generation, which will accelerate our sustainable economic growth.

HH Sheikh Mohammed in March 2019

The number of public schools in Bahrain is also increasing. Construction work on the country’s Shaikha Mooza Bint Hamad Al Khalifa Primary and Secondary Girls’ School in Jaww was completed in August of this year.

Developed by the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs, and Urban Planning, the school was built by a Bahraini-Saudi Arabian joint venture of Al Moayed and Nasma Contracting, and was supported by the Saudi Fund for Development. The school has a total built-up area of 2.7ha and comprises four academic buildings with 48 classrooms. It can accommodate 1,440 students in the primary, intermediate and secondary levels.

Bahrain’s works ministry is also working on the construction of an academic facility that will be an extension of the West Riffa Intermediate Girls’ School. Worth $2.1m, the facility is being built by Zaedon Building Construction.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, a campus is being developed in Al-Khobar by Rashed Abdul Rahman Al Rashed and Sons Group for International Schools Group (ISG), which operates six schools in four locations in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

Plans for the facility were revealed in May 2019 by architecture and design firm Godwin Austen Johnson. The company was appointed in 2018 by ISG to work on the project, which is intended to accommodate more than 2,500 students.

Growing populations in GCC countries are driving demand for education throughout the region, leading to what is likely to be an ongoing boom in school construction projects.

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