American School of Dubai

The Best American School in the UAE, 2019/20

For and our Judges, the American School of Dubai is our clear winner – and by a many mile. This is quite something in a category with some quite stand-out achievements amongst our shortlisted schools.

Of course, the American School of Dubai, is the most famous, perhaps infamous, school in the region for the KHDA, which continues resolutely to battle with the school over its steadfast, argued and principled rejection of Arabic subjects and engagement with the local cultural context of its school to the degree expected.


It’s on that basis that the American School of Dubai divides opinion.


On the one hand, the American School of Dubai is astonishingly good at what it does. The quality of education here, notwithstanding the KHDA downgrading to Good, is, in reality, beyond outstanding.


This is a very Inclusive school, but one, nevertheless, that is also a very highly performing academically one. And more, in its development of the whole child, arguably few schools, even outside the US curriculum, can match its very special educational approach and the dividends in education that result. Children graduate here engaged, spirited, confident, creative, happy and ambitious to make a difference in the world and achieve.

“To be recognised for the fact that we always go above and beyond is just really important to us...” Iain College, Executive Principal, Raha International

BUT, really, should we encourage a school operating as an isolated state of the US in the UAE? That’s the rub.


To be fair, after so many years since its being founded, the American School of Dubai is now beginning to soften its response and engage with local context much more powerfully.


Quite why the change of heart is a matter of hearsay and to some degree conjecture, but we now understand that the school’s leadership is beginning to realise that it is, and has been, missing a trick for its amazing student role in equipping them with the many USP’s that do, absolutely, come from a child being educated here in the UAE and engaging with local context, culture and language more significantly.

Enough has been written about attainment and progress at the American School of Dubai across the board – academically and whole child. It’s of the highest order. What we would add, however, is that Advanced Placement is built into the DNA of the school – and with expansive Advanced Placement subject choice. This is absolutely not a school that takes second best for its children or cuts corners.


A first-class slipstream to any of the world’s top universities is open to children educated here.


The American School of Dubai is a school that understands education in its broadest, best sense – where it leads and the life chances learning and education in its broadest sense can create for every one of its children.


In the context of the other schools we have shortlisted – and on its own terms, this is a school that deserves recognition.



Established: 1966


KHDA Rating: Good with Outstanding features


KHDA weakness: Arabic subjects (refuses to teach them so rated weak and its whole score downgraded. This would be a KHDA Outstanding school otherwise)


Subject breadth/meeting the needs of children: Outstanding


Fees: AED 59K – 81K


Number of students: 1837


Age of role: 4 – 18


Curriculum: American


School type: Private/governmental


Number of students with SEND: 108/5.8% (Above 5% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive for SEND)


Number of Emirati children: 7/0.3% (Above 10% in an international school we rate as outstandingly inclusive to the local population)

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