One of the region’s largest property developers is developing young minds, too
A property developer is making a big impact in education across the emirate.
Since its first school opened in 2007 for 247 students, Aldar Academies has seen explosive growth – and it now has 4,700 students in seven schools.
Even though the focus of its parent company, Aldar Properties PJSC, is property development, Aldar Academies has invested AED 450 million in education in line with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 – the government’s future vision for the capital.
The developer shows no signs of stopping, with plans for new schools and extensions of existing ones. Projects already in progress will see its student population triple to over 14,000 students by 2020.
In 2016, two schools will open: Al Mamoura School for 1,800 primary and girls-only secondary students, and an American curriculum school on Yas Island for 1,800 boys and girls of all grades, with a segregated secondary school. Schools are also planned for Al Raha Beach, Al Falah near the airport and Al Ghadeer close to Khalifa Industrial Zone.
New educational opportunities are also underway, but these aren’t limited to standard classroom lessons.
In March 2014, students from six Aldar Academies had the opportunity to workout with the former world number one tennis player, Monica Seles. The students then had a chance to engage with Monica following a talk about her experience as a professional tennis player, the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the hardships she’s faced – such
as the time she was stabbed on a tennis court in 1993 – which have influenced her life decisions.
Nilay Ozral, the chief executive officer of Aldar Academies, says, “We place great emphasis on sports and encouraging students to embrace the opportunities they can afford. Monica Seles is a role model for all, not only for her prowess as a tennis champion but also as someone who has faced up to, and conquered, great adversity.”
But it is not all about sport. Aldar Academies’ students are into the arts, too.
In June 2014, over 600 music students performed the musical ‘A Journey across the World – From Abu Dhabi and Back’ for dignitaries and parents at Emirates Palace. Their efforts raised AED 136,275 for Special Care Centre, which educates children who are physically and intellectually challenged.
Nilay says, “We seek to bridge cultural divides through music, arts and culture and the musical was a testimony of our commitment to broadening our student’s horizons and providing them with an understanding of different cultures.”
So what else has Aldar Academies got planned? Students from each of its schools will soon be hosting an annual charity music event for the second year running, a trivia quiz and a jiu-jitsu competition – the dates and locations of which are yet to be finalised. They will also perform a Broadway-style stage show about the history of the UAE on National Day in December.
Heather Long Vandevoorde