Interest in Dubai education projects growing – expert

Overseas investors, particularly from the UK, are looking at investment in education, says Steve Hextall, managing director of Aspect Project Management

Steve Hextall

There remains a strong appetite for investment in education-related projects in Dubai, a leading expert in the construction consultancy industry has said, pointing out that the mid-market sector is likely to see strong interest from investors.

Steve Hextall, managing director of Aspect Project Management, a construction project management consultancy, told Big Project ME that his firm had recently been awarded a number of high-profile educational projects, which was indicative of a significant shift in interest.

“We feel that there is still an appetite for investment in education in Dubai, mostly in the mid-market sector. The higher end schools are saturated, and with employment packages being adjusted and people consequently having to fund their own children’s education, there is a definite shift towards the more affordable schools,” Hextall said.

“Many of these mid-market schools actually offer excellent facilities, and no matter how much is spent on the buildings and infrastructure it’s really the delivery of the education program that is the most important factor.”

He added that overseas developers were paying attention to this sector, with well established brands in the UK now looking at entering the market.

“There remains an interest from many overseas developers, particularly well established brands from the UK. Many however find that there are numerous barriers to entry and therefore require local agents or project managers such as Aspect to help them negotiate the regulations.

“There are many operators currently fighting for the same few plots of land that are zoned for education. This is having a negative impact on returns as negotiations on land prices becomes difficult.

“The cost of construction in Dubai is also rising and will continue to do so as Expo 2020 starts to take effect on material costs, the best time to build is now,” he concluded.

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