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Qatar’s rising population increases demand for schools

Almost a quarter of Qatar's population is under 25, adding to the need for more schools Mariano Garcia/Alamy via Reuters
Almost a quarter of Qatar's population is under 25, adding to the need for more schools
  • Number of expats fuels demand
  • 50 new schools needed
  • Education a key pillar of Qatar 2030

Qatar’s growing population is fuelling demand for new schools as investors seek to capitalise on double-digit returns.

The Gulf state’s population grew from about 1.45 million in 2008 to roughly 2.9 million last year and is forecast to reach 3.2 million by the end of the decade.

That translates into a need for an additional 50 schools, according to Colliers Middle East, to add to the 550 schools already in operation.

“A population growth rate of around 2 percent over the next 5-10 years is feasible, primarily driven by an increase in expatriates,” said Mansoor Ahmed, head of education at Colliers in Mena.

The majority of Qatar’s population consists of Generation X (those born between 1965-1980), Gen Y (1981-1996),  Gen Z (1997-2012) and Generation Alpha (2013-2022), a demographic which results in a large number of young parents and school-age children.

Almost 25 percent of the population in Qatar is under 25-years-old.

Education is seen as one of the key pillars of Qatar’s National Vision 2030. Alongside healthcare it made up 20 percent of expenditure in this year’s QR200.9 billion ($55 billion) state budget.

“Qatar’s K12 market [from kindergarten to 12th grade], particularly in Doha, is competitive, but at the same time offers growth opportunities for quality schools,” said Ahmed.

AGBI reported last month that Dubai’s private school market, once a goldmine for investors, is no longer yielding the lucrative double-digit returns it used to.

But that is not the case in Qatar, according to Ashwin Assomull, partner and founding member of the global education practice at LEK Consulting, who is based in Dubai.

“Essentially we feel that it [Qatar] is a very strong market for investors and operators,” he said.

“If you build a high quality school and do well around attracting students and grow in line with a sensible business plan, you can achieve really good ROIs of 18-to-mid 20 percent.”

International outlook

International schools account for nearly 60 percent of the total in Qatar and include names such as Sherborne Qatar, Park House English School, Nord Anglia International School Al Khor, King’s College Doha and International School of Choueifat Doha.

In the current academic year almost 17,000 new students enrolled in schools across the country.

Last month school management company GSM Middle East announced a partnership with Aplomado Investments and Fenton Whelan Real Estate to launch a British international school on Qetaifan Island North in Doha.

It will cater for up to 1,600 students and is set to open in September 2026.

“You have a lot of investors in Saudi and Qatar that are 100 percent equity investors so therefore they are not paying back bank borrowing or interest rates at a high interest rate,” said Shaun Robison, GSM’s CEO.

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