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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi to remain 'completely independent' following change of owners

Incoming headmaster Michael Wilson reassures parents in letter and says the move to Aldar will not affect day to day operations

 Michael Wilson is currently headmaster of Cranleigh preparatory school in the UK and will formally take up his new role in Abu Dhabi in July. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
 Michael Wilson is currently headmaster of Cranleigh preparatory school in the UK and will formally take up his new role in Abu Dhabi in July. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Cranleigh School Abu Dhabi will remain completely independent under new owners Aldar Properties.

Michael Wilson, incoming headmaster of the school, said there would be no changes to how the school operates on a day-to-day basis.

"I've worked very closely with our chairman, Mohammed Al Mubarak. He has a vision for education and a drive for education and this announcement fills me full of excitement," Mr Wilson told The National.

"We have an agreement that says we operate the school. We agree on a budget and we get on with it and that's what will continue," Mr Wilson said.

It comes following Aldar’s agreement with the Tourism Development and Investment Company to acquire its Dh3.7 billion real estate portfolio — with a focus on Saadiyat Island where Cranleigh is based. It is believed to be one of the largest property acquisitions in the country's history.

As reported in The National on Monday, the assets acquired by Aldar range from hospitality to retail and also education.

On Monday, Mr Wilson reassured parents at the school in a letter and said that the transfer of ownership had come following “extensive dialogue” with all concerned partners. He said that while Aldar has its own academies, Cranleigh will maintain its own identity.

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“Aldar are fully aware that the high standards of teaching and pastoral care that Cranleigh parents have come to expect must not change,” Mr Wilson said.

“They recognise this and value the important role that Cranleigh plays, not only in the Saadiyat Island community but more generally in Abu Dhabi’s education system.”

Mr Wilson is currently headmaster of Cranleigh preparatory school in the UK and will formally take up his new role in Abu Dhabi in July. His letter to parents also stated that he had been in the city over the past few weeks meeting staff and was looking to meeting them all when he formally takes up the role.

Cranleigh UK opened its doors in 1865, while Cranleigh Abu Dhabi opened in 2014 and swiftly garnered a reputation for delivering a world-class education in the UAE.

The school now has more than 1,000 pupils, has received a top rating from the Abu Dhabi Education Council, the honour of “New British International School of the Year 2017” and SchoolsCompared.com “Top School in Abu Dhabi”.

“Acquiring assets on Saadiyat Island presents Aldar with an unprecedented opportunity to add significant value to its portfolio,” said Talal Al Dhiyebi, chief executive of Aldar Properties.

“The opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi has demonstrated the government’s commitment to make Saadiyat Island one of the most sought after destinations in the world. We believe this landmark acquisition will further advance Abu Dhabi’s real estate sector and accelerate the development of Saadiyat Island, taking it to the next level.”

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