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Saudi Arabia leads the GCC’s education sector with $50 billion budget allocation

The kingdom allocated 17% of its total budget towards education in 2023

Saudi Arabia leads the GCC’s education sector with $50 billion budget allocation
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

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Between 2022 and 2027, Saudi Arabia is expected to lead the GCC as the largest education market. A report by Alpen Capital estimates that the kingdom allocated a budget of $50.4 billion in 2023, while the UAE’s budget increased to 15.5% in 2023 from 14.8% in 2020, and Kuwait remained steady with 11.5% towards the sector. 

These allocations in the GCC states surpass those in the US, the UK, and Germany.

Saudi Arabia is also eyeing a potential increase in its current 15% enrollment rate to 25% by 2030, further looking to add 900,000 seats in the coming years, as noted by Dr Mounira Alaboudi, education segment director, Ministry of Investment Saudi Arabia. Similarly, the UAE and Kuwait are projected to grow in the number of students quicker than other GCC states.

Overall, the report highlights that education spending across the GCC has increased this year, with an average of 13.3%, compared to the 13.1% in 2022. Moreover, the total number of students in the GCC’s education sector is expected to reach 14.2 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 1.6% from an estimated 13.1 million in 2022

“The GCC education sector has advanced significantly over the past few years with governments’ focus on diversifying their economies and enhancing the quality of education to bring it at par with international standards,” says Sameena Ahmad, Managing Director, Alpen Capital Middle East.

“Student enrolments across the region have increased by more than half a million over the past five years. Apart from the growing school-age population, this was led by factors such as the influx of private school operators, favorable policies/ guidelines, and focus on technology-driven education, which is also expected to continue playing a crucial role in future growth,” Ahmad adds. 

In Bahrain and Qatar, the education budgets remained below the regional average. 9.9% and 9% over the past two years. 

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