Home | Forum | Print |

Villa schools in Abu Dhabi

Wednesday 16 January 2019 (UAE)   

Villa schools in Abu Dhabi

Villa schools in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and school closures under instruction from the Abu Dhabi City Municipality. Replacement schools arranged by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).

Abu Dhabi Villa Schools
  • A number of private schools in Abu Dhabi (and Dubai and other UAE emirates for that matter) operate out of villa housing. They are often cheaper schools serving nationals from India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Arab countries.
  • About 45,000 students attend 77 villa schools in Abu Dhabi with 71 schools having been told to close down (Khaleej Times 21 April 2010).
  • These schools are not purpose built facilities, and are often run down, overcrowded, and generally unpleasant in the opinion of many, especially the schools that have been operating for many years.
  • The flip side of those comments is that families of pupils attending cheap villa schools simply cannot afford to pay the higher fees at the better resourced schools even if places are available (often they are not), and the villa schools do not have the financial resources to upgrade their facilities.
  • ADEC concerns about the villa schools, according to Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, Director General of ADEC, are to do with safety (not money or image as speculated by some people). A report in The National on 22 Sep 2008 quoted him as saying "What's worrying us is safety ... Safety of children is more important than anything else ... The schools are in the middle of a community. ... It's very dangerous for the children to go out - maybe they will be hit by cars." Given that many families with children live in residential villas, and go out of them on a regular basis; in addition to closing all villa schools, families with children could also consider moving out of their villas to live in different accommodation such as apartment buildings for example, where it would be more difficult for the children to go out and be hit by cars. However, to complicate things further, very young children often go to nurseries located in villas, which are not being closed down. Possibly nurseries in villas do a better job of keeping children inside the villas and off the roads.
  • ADEC is apparently trying to help villa school owners move to new or unused school buildings, for example a 17 Mar 2013 story in The National said ADEC has offered substantial support to villa schools, according to Hamad Al Dhaheri, executive director of the private education sector. He said they were currently looking into assigning villa school operators unused public school buildings. Only establishments that have successfully managed private schools in the past would be given public school buildings. Some contradictory comments reported by villa school principals and owners who said that applications for the government school buildings were very competitive and/or denied by ADEC ...
  • ... and ADEC had a comment about that in a later story on 02 Oct 2013 in Emirates 24-7, quoting Hamad Al Dhaheri, Executive Director Private Schools and Quality Assurance Sector, as saying "Some villa schools have been unable to demonstrate that they are serious and capable of building new schools and so unfortunately as the industry regulator, ADEC has been forced to take action and close these villa schools".
Villa school categories in Abu Dhabi
  • Category 1: Schools with potential - ADEC will support school operators to develop new schools.
  • Category 2 (about 20,000 students): Schools planning to relocate to purpose-built facilities - ADEC will monitor relocation plans and schools can continue to operate if plans are suitable.
  • Category 3 (about 25,000 students): Schools that have taken no action - ADEC will attempt to arrange replacement schools for the villa schools being closed down.
Villa school closures timeline in Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Federal Law No. 28 of 1999 required all private schools in the UAE to comply with government regulations about school operations and buildings.
    • Since then, some villa school operators have closed voluntarily, some have relocated to purpose built facilities, and some have been instructed to close.
    • Cabinet Resolution No. 270/7 of 2002 required all remaining villas schools to close, and gave a 2 year grace period until the end of academic year 2003-2004.
    • Cabinet Resolution No. 375/23M of 2004 again was an order to all remaining villa schools to cease operating, and gave another 3 year grace period to the end of the 2006-2007 academic year.
  • The Khaleej Times reported 20 April 2010 that Ali Al Hashimi, Inspection Project Manager for villa schools at the Abu Dhabi Mnicipality, said "There is no way that a villa could serve as a school. These are (designed) to accommodate a family-size capacity; these are not built to accommodate hundreds of students or serve commercial activity,"
  • The same report said there are 77 villa schools in Abu Dhabi that need to be inspected by the Abu Dhabi Municipality, the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, and the Ministry of Labour. Six of them were handed eviction and closure notices in April 2010 (see below).
  • In July 2010, ADEC issued a tender for private school development on 6 plots of land in Khalifa City B and MBZ City for students from villa schools.
All villa schools in Abu Dhabi to be closed by 2012-2013 (08 Mar 2011 report)
  • Gulf News reported that all Abu Dhabi villa schools will be closed by the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, according to information from ADEC (press release not found or supplied), and quoted Yousuf Al Sheryani, Private Schools and Quality Assurance Executive Director at ADEC, as saying "ADEC has already shut down 21 villa schools, of which 10 were closed last year. Among them, six were closed immediately because of their high health and safety risks, leaving only 50 villa schools that are currently in operation,"
  • At the time of the report, there are 299 schools in Abu Dhabi, of which 183 are private schools, including 50 villa schools.
Villa schools in the UAE - other emirates
  • Villa schools in Dubai - most were closed by the KHDA by 2007-2008. One or two still open after that but eventually closed.
  • Villa schools in Sharjah -
Abu Dhabi school closures - unclear information
  • Al Mashael National Private School - on Muroor Road (Al Masheel School), near the Indian School in Abu Dhabi? Listed as The National Torches Private School with ADEC and AEZ.
  • The National Torches Private School - see Al Mashael School (Al Masheel School).
  • Elite Private School Abu Dhabi - relocating to new campus according to management company, Radiant Education, but construction and relocation schedule or timeline not supplied, although there was a comment in a KT news report 30 May 2013 that the school was building a new campus in MBZ City with opening date in 2014.
  • Indian Modern Science School - moving to new location in MBZ City in 2014 (under construction in 2013)? Not confirmed.
  • Leens Kindergarten and School in Abu Dhabi (Indian curriculum), also Leens Nursery? ADEC warning given in Apr 2011? Information updated needed.
List of Abu Dhabi villa schools closing in 2015

To be updated. Might include the following (listed here because no other information provided about their closure or relocation, and 2014-2015 is the final final final deadline for Abu Dhabi villa school closures according to ADEC ... unless the cut-off date is postponed again.

As of 21 Aug 2014, ADEC said 18 villa schools remained in Abu Dhabi and would be closed or relocated by mid-2015.

  School Name Curriculum Status Notes
1 ABC Private School Arabic, UK Relocate Sep 2015 New campus in Al Shamkha
  Abu Dhabi International School IB, UK, US Close Jul 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
  Al Dana Kindergarten US Close Jul 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
  Al Murooj Scientific School UK Close Jul 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
2 Al Noor Indian Islamic School Indian Closed Mar 2015 TN 01 Oct 2013, ADEC 11 May 2015
  Al Ryan Private School UK Close Jul 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
3 Asian International School Indian Closed Mar 2015 TN 01 Oct 2013, ADEC 11 May 2015
4 Elite Private School US Close Jul 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
5 Indian Modern Science School     Relocating to MBZ City for 2014?
  International Academic Private School UK Close Jul 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
  Leeds Private School     Doesn't exist, probably a typo (TN 01 Oct 2013)
6 Leens Kindergarten and School Indian Closed Mar 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
  Modern Private School UK, US Close Jul 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
7 Our Own English High School Abu Dhabi Indian Closed Mar 2015 TN 01 Oct 2013, ADEC 11 May 2015
  Our Own English High School AUH Branch Indian Closed Mar 2015 ADEC 11 May 2015
8 Wisdom (Upper) High School Indian Closed Mar 2015 TN 01 Oct 2013, ADEC 11 May 2015

[Check, Update] Our Own English High School (Our Own English School) renamed as GEMS United Indian School, and relocated to Baniyas West (08 Dec 2015 news reports).

  • 11 May 2015 (ADEC). Last 6 Indian curriculum villa schools closed by ADEC at end of Indian academic year in March 2015. Students were relocated to other schools at reduced fees: GEMS United Indian School (GUIS), Our Own English School, Our Own English School branch, Shining Star International School. Schools were closed by the ADEC Private Schools and Quality Assurance (PSQA) department "... due to not complying with ADEC's signed undertaking to accommodate or to re-allocate students in fully fledged purpose built school building." Remaining 8 villa schools, due to close or be closed by July 2015 are:
    • ABC School (note, school will relocate to new campus in Al Shamkha).
    • Abu Dhabi International School
    • Al Dana Kindergarten
    • Al Murroj Scientific School (Al Murooj Scientific School)
    • Al Ryan Private School (Al Rayan, Al Rayyan Private School)
    • Elite Private School
    • International Academic Private School
    • Modern Private School
Villa schools closure pending as of October 2013

Several schools were reported in The National 01 Oct 2013 as closing ("The closure of the five other schools ... are pending"), further details not supplied about dates or relocation plans.

  • Al Noor Indian Islamic School (1,008 students)
  • Asian International Private School (210 students)
  • Our Own English High School (1,249 students)
  • Leeds Private School (730 students)? Not clear which school TN is talking about - maybe Leens School and Kindergarten (which was apparently warned by ADEC in April 2011 and threatened with closure).
  • Wisdom High Private School (670 students), in a previous report in 2011, the school head had said the school would relocate by 2013 to a new campus. It didn't.

However the report also said that the Indian Ambassador in Abu Dhabi, M K Lokesh, was had talked to ADEC on 26 Sep 2013 about these and other school closures, and was quoted as saying "I am very confident that these students will not be affected and some solution will be found ... I requested ADEC give more time for the schools to make arrangements, although I do understand that they have given instruction for the closure of villa schools five years ago." Not that his confidence will help stranded students find a new school if their current school closes anyway. A report in the Gulf News on the same day said The ambassador said that he requested ADEC to give an extension to the two schools facing imminent closure, referring to the Indian Islahi Islamic School and the Little Flower Private School, so Mr Lokesh might not have been talking about the other schools referred to in The National's version.

Abu Dhabi villa schools closing in 2013-2014
  • 22 Aug 2014 (GN): Other villa schools moved or moving to new purpose built campuses include:
    • Al Rawafed Private School, American curriculum.
    • Al Shohub School, British curriculum.
    • Al Salam English Private School, British curriculum.
    • *Merryland International School (Merry Land School), British curriculum.
  • 21 Aug 2014 (WAM, ADEC). ADEC announced 4 villa schools closed and 18 (names not released) still operating, out of 72 in 2009 (figure changed, was 77 according to Apr 2010 reports). Of the remaining villa schools, 8 will close in 2015, 6 are constructing new buildings, and 4 are applying for approval to start construction. The 4 villa schools closed in July 2014 were:
    • Al Fajr English International School: Creative British School, new in Sep 2014, has places available at discounted fees for Al Fajar Students?
    • Gulf Buds Private School (additional to 02 Jul 2013 ADEC announcement of schools closing in Jul 2014).
    • Salah Uddin Private School (Salahuddin Private School)
    • Philippine National School: students can transfer to The Philippine School in Abu Dhabi, new for Sep 2014.
  • 02 Jul 2013 (ADEC). ADEC announced 15 villa school closures or relocations (see table for individual school details). This leaves 20 villa schools still operating, down from 72 villa schools operating in 2009 (according to press release) or 2008 (according to other reports). The press release didn't say when the remaining 20 villa schools would close or relocate, but other reports said by July 2015. Numbers and closure dates as follows:
    • 3 schools relocating for 2013-2014
    • 7 schools closing in July 2013
    • 2 schools closing in March 2014 (Indian curriculum schools closing at the end of the Indian academic year)
    • 3 schools closing in July 2014
  School Name Curriculum Status Notes
  ABC Private School7 UK, MOE See 2014-2015 Villa school but no announcement.
1 Abu Dhabi Junior Academy School (ADJA)1 British Closing Jul 2013 Closed by ADEC
2 Al Bustan Private School American Closing Jul 2013 Closed by ADEC
3 Al Fajr English International School UK, MOE Closed Jul 2014 Closed by ADEC
4 Al Rawafed Private School (ARPS, RPS)2 American Relocate Jul 2013 Relocating to purpose built school
5 Al Salam English Private School British Relocate Jul 2013 Relocating to purpose built school
6 Al Shohub School Abu Dhabi British Relocate Jul 2013 Relocating to purpose built school
  Al Yasat Private School5 UK, US, MOE Relocate Jul 2014 Not in ADEC announcements
7 Castle Private School Abu Dhabi British Closing Jul 2013 Closed by ADEC
8 First Steps School3 British Closing Jul 2013 Closed by ADEC
  Gulf Buds School UAE MOE Closed Jul 2014 ADEC closure not announced Jul 2013
9 Indian Islahi Islamic School in Abu Dhabi Indian Closed Mar 2014 Closed by ADEC
10 Islamic International School British Closing Jul 2013 Closed by ADEC
11 Little Flower Private School in Abu Dhabi Indian Closed Mar 2014 Closed by ADEC
12 Philippine National School Abu Dhabi Philippine Closed Jul 2014 Closed by ADEC
13 PISCO Private School4 Philippine Closing Jul 2013 Closing based on owners decision
14 Rawdaty Private Kindergarten6 American Closing Jul 2013 Closing based on owners decision
15 Salahuddin Private School MOE Closed Jul 2014 Closed by ADEC
  1. ADJA closure might or might not include the closure of Abu Dhabi Children's Kindergarten? Information update needed.
  2. Al Rawafed Private School - also called RPS, Al Rawafid School, Al Rowafed, Al Ruwafed, Private School (Pvt Sch)? Relocated to Khalifa City A on 20th St, next to Dar Al Shifa Hospital and Crescent International School?
  3. Is the same as the First Steps Pre-School and Nursery in Al Rowdha, Al Karamah. Primary school closed, nursery still open.
  4. PISCO Private School relocated and reopened as Philippine Emirates Private Academy in Baniyas City East in September 2013.
  5. Al Yasat School is in the Villa School category according to ADEC information, but was not included in ADEC announcements of villa schools closing or relocating. AYPS will move from Madinat Zayed Downtown Abu Dhabi to new purpose built campus in Al Shamkha for September 2014.
  6. Raowdaty Kindergarten will continue to operate nursery section though? See My Nursery Abu Dhabi.
  7. ABC School not in ADEC villa school closure announcement. Update: relocation to Al Shamkha City for Sep 2015.
  • According to ADEC, students in villa schools which are closing, will be offered discounted fees at the following new schools in Abu Dhabi expected to open by September 2013, however number of places available and size of discount not provided.
    • International Community School (Branch 1)
    • Summit International School
    • GEMS Winchester School
  • Other new schools opening in Abu Dhabi by September 2013 named in the press release but not offering discounts to villa school students were:
Abu Dhabi villa schools closing in 2013
  • My Private Kindergarten (338 students) - closing date 07 July 2013 (reported in The National 17 Mar 2013).
  • The Private Cooperation School (343 students) - closing date 01 April 2013 (reported in The National 17 Mar 2013).
Abu Dhabi villa schools closing in 2012
  • 28 May 2012 (ADEC announcement) - 4 villa schools to close at end of 2011-2012 academic year, leaving 37 villa schools still operating in Abu Dhabi, of which 32 plan to build new buildings by start of 2013-2014 academic year, and another 2 will close by end of 2012-2013 academic year. Unknown what plans the other 3 schools have. Schools named as closing this year are:
  • 25 March 2012 (Khaleej Times) - 41 villa schools still operating in Abu Dhabi (down from 77 in 2010). All villa schools in Abu Dhabi scheduled to be closed by 2013.
Abu Dhabi villa schools closing in 2011
  School Name Curriculum Status Notes
  Abu Dhabi schools      
  Al Bustan Private School?      
1 Al Ekhlass School      
2 Badr Al Kubra School      
3 Baraem Al Aqsa School      
  Leens KG and School?      
  Al Ain schools      
4 Al Amal Private School      
5 International Private School     or Future School, or Al Mustaqbal School
  New Hilal Private School?      
6 Zaharat Al Madan School      
  • ADEC announcement 30 June 2011 of villa school closures for end of academic year 2010-2011 for Abu Dhabi city:
  • ... and for Al Ain
  • ADEC Villa Schools Team enquiries contact details telephone +971-2-6150381 or +971-2-6150398, email: villa.schools@adec.ac.ae (maybe, ADEC doesn't respond to emails in our experience).
  • 27 Apri 2011 (The National) - report about warning notices sent in April 2011 by ADEC to 10 villa schools in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, threatening them with closure in June 2011 if health and safety issues were not satisfactorily addressed. However, school operators could apply to ADEC to relocate to one of 5 empty government school buildings (4 in Abu Dhabi and 1 in Al Ain). Pierre Scottorn, Section Manager of the Private School Improvement Department at ADEC was quoted as saying "We welcome all operators to apply for this, but they have to fulfil certain criteria and set standards before we grant it to them". The 10 villa schools were not named, but The National had comments from parents or staff from the following schools:
    • Al Bustan Private School in Abu Dhabi (UAE MOE and American curriculum?).
    • Leens Kindergarten and School in Abu Dhabi (Indian curriculum).
    • New Hilal Private School in Al Ain.
Abu Dhabi villa schools closing in 2010
  School Name Curriculum Status Notes
  Abu Dhabi Philippine Academy Filipino Renamed Not a villa school
1 Al Azhar Palestine School UAE MOE Closed Jul 2010 Closed by ADEC
2 Al Mashreq Private School UAE MOE Closed Jul 2010 Closed by ADEC
3 Al Sahaba Private School UAE MOE Closed Jul 2010 Closed by ADEC
4 Al Sahel Private School UAE MOE Unknown ADEC closure announced for Jul 2010
5 Cultural Private School UAE MOE Closed Jul 2010 Closed by ADEC
6 Pioneers International School Filipino Closed Jul 2010 Closed by ADEC
  • Abu Dhabi Philippine Academy was a new school for students from the Pioneers International School. Shortly after opening, ADPA was renamed as the 21st Century Private School.
  • 12 Aug 2010: ADEC announcement that the following schools had closed at the end of the 2009-2010 academic year (report didn't mention Al Sahel or Coast Private School which was also scheduled for closure):
    • Al Azhar Palestine School - students > new Universal Future Education Academy (UFE Academy), in the old Saad Bin Obaidah School building.
    • Al Mashreq Private School - students > UFE Academy.
    • Al Sahaba Private School and KG - students > UFE Academy.
    • Cultural Private School - students > UFE Academy.
    • Pioneers International Private School - students > Abu Dhabi Philippine Academy.
  • 11 Aug 2010 (press release): ADEC appointed Universal Future Education (UFE) to operate the 6th of August School (Filipino/English curriculum), and the Saad Bin Obaidah School (UAE MOE curriculum). Yousif Al Sheryani, Educational Advisor to the Director General of ADEC, said "We were pleased with Universal Future Education's proposal and our confidence was reaffirmed after interviewing both the operators and their selected school principals. During the selection process they demonstrated a high degree of knowledge in the education sector, technical and financial ability to implement their plans, and access to manpower resources to mobilize in time for the coming school year."
  • 07 Jul 2010: 14 proposals to run the Bani Yas and Muroor schools were received by ADEC according to a report in the Khaleej Times - "Fourteen proposals have been received, ADEC is currently in the process of reviewing these and will select the most qualified applicants," Paul Andrews, manager, Private Schools at ADEC told Khaleej Times.

20 Apr 2010: The Abu Dhabi Municipality or ADEC has instructed 6 villa schools to stop operating from the end of the 2009-2010 academic year (by 30 June 2010). Apparently they are concerned for the safety of students, but not worried about how and where they might go to find an affordable education. According to the Khaleej Times report 20 April 2010, these six schools are "extremely high-risk schools", and the first of the 77 schools due for inspection and possible closure.

  • The schools aren't giving up without a fight though. According to another 20 April 2010 report in the Khaleej Times (KT), they are complaining to the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI). The KT quoted Lamiaa Al Madfaji, principal of Al Saheel Private School (The Coast School) as saying "The six schools have lodged a complaint with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry as they are administratively run by it ... A joint meeting was held by the school management and the officials at the chamber, and agreed that the chamber will pass on the collective complaint to Abu Dhabi education council to work to stop implementing the decision."
  • The schools affected are (total of 2,291 students being displaced):
  • The Abu Dhabi Education Council has attempted to find a solution by offering to house the 2,291 potentially school-less students in two already existing but unused government school buildings, announced in a press release 19 April 2010, namely:
    • The Saad bin Obaidah School in Baniyas. Update - become the UFE Academy then the Middle East Private School (MEPS) (not clear, they are different locations according to ADEC information), run by UFE.
    • August 6th School in Muroor. Update - renamed as Abu Dhabi Philippine Academy then 21st Century Private Academy, run by UFE.
  • One school will provide an English curriculum, the other will provide a UAE Ministry of Education Arabic curriculum. Press release did not specify which.
  • But that might only be until September 2013. A 20 April 2010 report in The National, said the schools "will be required to move again to new buildings within three years."
Al Ain villa schools closing or moving

Seven villa schools in Al Ain closed from 2010-2012?

Oasis International School is a new school (Indian CBSE curriculum) accepting students from some closing villa schools in Al Ain. Temporarily (during 2012) in a government school building in Al Mezyad district while new building being constructed. On 26 March 2012, Gulf News reported Pierre Scottorn, Section Manager for Private School Improvement at ADEC, as saying "We have been able to relocate 733 pupils between KG1 and Grade 10 from the Oasis Private School, which follows the Indian schooling system-based CBSE curriculum; and 280 pupils between KG1 and Grade 7 from the New Al Hilal Private School, which follows the Pakistani curriculum".

Other villa school information
  • Al Bahya Private School (Al Bahiya, Al Bahia Private School) moved to Khalifa City A in 2007, was previously a villa school from 1997-2007.
  • Al Bashair Private School, moved to Mussafah in 2006 from villa school site in Abu Dhabi city (Hadbat Al Zaafran?).
ADEC contact details for parents with children at villa schools

Parents concerned about their child's education and school facilities can contact ADEC at the following:

  • Email: private.schools@adec.ac.ae (although we've never received a reply to any email we've sent to any ADEC address).
  • Tel +971-2-6150271, +971-2-6150378, +971-2-61500397, +971-2-6150499. Fax +971-2-6150778.
  • Postal address: ADEC, PO Box 36005, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Last update Friday 10-Jun-2016. Page development 4L 5C.
Related pages
Related websites (new window)


Abu Dhabi AUH ABD ADB, Ajman AJM, Al Ain AAN, Dubai DXB, Fujairah FUJ, Ras Al Khaimah RAK, Sharjah SHJ, Umm Al Quwain UAQ

DubaiFAQs UAE information guide. Copyright © 2004-2019 www.dubaifaqs.com, Dubai, UAE - United Arab Emirates | blog | Facebook | Twitter |