Already the world’s 8th highest education spender, Saudi Arabia has recently initiated a complete overhaul of its educational system at a cost of US$3.1 billion. Increasingly prosperous families in traditionally underserved parts of the country have very strong demands for high-quality education. Meanwhile, for foreign investors, the new Economic Cities create a unique opportunity for private-sector involvement.
A potential to develop home-grown talent
Today, over 90% of Saudi students are educated in public schools, with only the wealthiest Saudi and expatriate children attending some 840 private schools. There is clearly substantial room for the private sector to participate more fully at the primary and secondary levels of Saudi Arabia’s education system.
While tertiary education enjoys greater private participation, this clearly remains an underserved market. Many students must pursue scholarships overseas to gain the highest-quality higher education; some 80% of engineers, doctors and scientists are foreigners.
In the past, foreign organizations have not been permitted to directly educate Saudi students. Now, for the first time, the Economic Cities are allowing students to benefit from outside skills and knowledge. In addition to traditional educational institutions, there is a clear need for a full range of educational and training services, including vocational programs, e-learning, content development, seminars, etc.
Good reasons to invest
- Significant unmet demands exist at every level of the Saudi educational system
- Demographically, Saudi Arabia’s population is extremely young and growing rapidly, with millions of school-age children
- Fast-rising personal wealth is bringing world-class education within reach of many Saudi families
- The Economic Cities are being constructed as part of an ambitious public investment campaign to bring knowledge-intensive industries to KSA, providing foreign organizations with an opportunity to enter the market