The developer of Saadiyat Island has appointed a contractor to build what will become the largest school campus in Abu Dhabi.
Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) awarded Al Tafseer Contracting & General Maintenance, whose previous projects have included housing on Yas Island, a contract for the main construction works of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi.
Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, based on the ethos and curriculum of Cranleigh School, a British school founded in 1865, will be the first school campus on Saadiyat.
Built over seven hectares of land next to Manarat Al Saadiyat and the UAE Pavilion, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi is designed to accommodate more than 1,600 students aged from three to 18 years with separate junior and senior schools, each with its own classrooms, faculty offices, administration offices, dining hall and library.
There will be specialist facilities for music, science, art, design and technology, drama, dance and sports classes, as well as IT facilities with electronic tables provided for pupils. There will be a 650-seat auditorium, 2,900 square metre sports centre and 19,300 sq metres of outdoor fields.
The sporting facilities will include two grass pitches, an astroturf pitch, four tennis courts, two swimming pools and an indoor arena with two full-sized courts.
Cranleigh will also offer boarding facilities, a first for any school in the emirate. Various boarding arrangements in purpose-built houses, which will have separate accommodation for males and females, will be offered, including full boarding as well as daily and weekly options.
Al Tafseer is scheduled to deliver the first phase of Cranleigh, which includes the junior and senior schools, dining halls, and the sports and swimming facilities, in time for the start of the academic year in 2014.
Ground works have been completed at the site, according to Brendan Law, the director of education at TDIC.
“We are delighted with Tafseer’s appointment and are looking forward to the year ahead as we gear up for the opening of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi next year,” he said.
“Admissions will open next month in November for children aged three to 14 and the school will be ready to open its doors for the academic year of 2014. We believe that Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will bring to the emirate a top quality educational programme that is incomparable to any other school in the city today.”
Cranleigh School is one of a growing number of top British fee-paying schools, which include Brighton College and Repton School, to set up branches in the capital.
The schools are among several international institutions that have spotted an opportunity in the UAE’s private education market, which is estimated to be the same size as India and China’s combined.
Western-branded higher education institutions in the country are growing by 15 per cent a year, and the UAE hosts 37 international branch campuses – the highest number in the world.
A number of new schools opened in Abu Dhabi this school term, including Gems Cambridge International School in Baniyas, Repton School Abu Dhabi in Reem Island and Brighton College Al Ain.
The number of students in private education in the GCC is predicted to triple by 2020.