April 11, 2022
Private Education in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar: Implications and Challenges
Over the last three decades, continued expatriate population growth across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar has contributed to the rise of a unique set of economic and social challenges. Among these are challenges relating to the provision of private education in the absence of a public option. In the face of rising demand for private schooling, a lack of affordable education options, the monopolistic behavior of private education providers, and varied government regulations have created a complex and unbalanced education sector. While researchers have studied the nature and implications of private education provision in the United Kingdom, United States, and other high-income states, no such research has been done in the UAE or Qatar. This research employs a mixed-methods comparative approach to understand the nature of the private education sectors in the UAE and Qatar, examine the ways in which private education providers navigate the regulatory schooling environments in the UAE and Qatar, and assess the impact on education stakeholders, in particular those at the lower ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. The study finds that there are considerable socioeconomic differences in terms of who has access to schooling and that a growing for-profit education market may be deepening segregation and inequities in both countries, leaving poorer families less able to access quality education. The promise of non-profit providers as a viable alternative is explored.