Middle East 2.0: An Education Story

The great cities that cropped up throughout the Middle East over the last decade are testaments to the ambitious investments of regional leaders. Some of those ambitions have been tempered as of late, but there is one sector where determined investors are providing much needed capital: education.

The enormous youth populations of countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have put a strain on the region’s existing educational infrastructure. A rise in the number of students means a rise in the number of teachers, and countries like Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE are leading the way in efforts to provide educators the incentive to teach at the highest level.

Teachers in these countries earn between $50,000-$80,000 a year, placing them in the top income tier in these countries as well as among the highest paid teachers in the world. Such wages are a big draw for smart citizens who would otherwise be drawn to the private sector. Similarly, top students are being retained to work in local industries rather than receiving their education abroad and finding work elsewhere.

For a region so heavily dependent on oil revenues for so long, the investment shift towards education is a clear sign that governments of the GCC recognize the role a highly educated workforce plays in diversifying an economy. Oil may be long from gone, but a world-class education will not only outlast fossil fuels, it could also help in the discovery of next-generation sustainable energy—or possibly something we haven’t even thought of yet!