ABU DHABI // The "Eton of India" will open its doors in the capital next year and offer parents something new – academic elitism.
After all, the first pupil to attend Mayo College of Ajmer in Rajasthan was a young maharajah in October 1875, who arrived to class on the back of an elephant accompanied by 300 servants.
The first satellite of the college, Mayoor Private School, will open in Abu Dhabi next September.
It will be managed by Taaleem in collaboration with Mayo College General Council and aims to provide 2,500 school places.
"Mayoor Private School Abu Dhabi inherits the 138-year legacy of Mayo College," said Gorthi S?S Rao, a representative of the college and the private school.
The college was established by and named after Lord Mayo, the fourth viceroy of India.
His plan, according to the school's historians, was to provide Indian children of noble birth with a western-style education while upholding Indian values.
Or, in the words of Mr Rao: "Mayo College was fashioned out of Rajasthan soil so that generations of future rulers could be educated with modern courses that were Indian in essence."
The college has maintained its prestige and graduates include members of several royal families from former princely states such as Bikaner, Jaipur, Alwar, Udaipur, and Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr Rao said the educational philosophy in Abu Dhabi would remain to "prepare global leaders with character built on tradition, values, and objectives".
The school has yet to reveal its fee structure, describing it only as moderate, but with the Indian college charging a minimum of about Dh23,000 a year, a Mayo education in Abu Dhabi is unlikely to come cheap.
Other Indian-curriculum schools in the capital, of which there are fewer than 30, have fees ranging from Dh2,000 a year to Dh12,000.
The higher cost is unlikely to deter parents who are professionals or senior executives.
Roy Abraham, a senior analyst in Abu Dhabi, said he would not be troubled by the charges.
"I get school fees paid by my company," he said. "They only pay me if my children are studying inside the UAE, so it should not be a problem."
Mr Abraham is more interested in how many spaces the school will make available. He had to send his son, Roshan, home to India because of the shortage in Abu Dhabi.
"He went for two years to school in Dubai after we were not able to find him a school in Abu Dhabi," he said.
The operators of Mayoor Private School estimate there is a shortage of between 5,000 and 6,000 Indian-curriculum school seats in Abu Dhabi.
For Roshan, the shortage meant he had to live with his aunt in Dubai for two years to avoid the commute before his parents decided to send him back to India to live with his grandparents.
"I am hoping the situation will change with a few schools now opening up," Mr Abraham said.
"Mayo College is well known in India and it is good that branded schools are opening up here," he said.
He said he would visit the campus and look at what the school was offering before making a decision.