GEMS Education joint venture acquires Saudi’s largest education company

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On Monday, GEMS Education KSA completed an acquisition of Ma’arif Education and Training Company. Ma’arif is a Saudi Arabian private school operator established in 1971 with over 13 campuses in the Kingdom and more than 20,000 students enrolled.

GEMS Education KSA is a joint venture company owned by Dubai-based GEMS Education and Hassana, the investment arm of the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), a Saudi government agency. GEMS KSA was formed in May 2019 with the aim of investing into the local education sector, which the Kingdom is looking to reform as part of its Vision 2030 economic overhaul.


Saudi Arabia has a low private school penetration rate, compared to regional neighbors, at under 20 percent of all schools and only six percent internationally branded, according to a recent report by Colliers International. In October last year, authorities cleared the path for foreign investors to fully own companies in the health and education sectors, driving interest in the Kingdom.

The Kingdom is also by far the largest market for private sector education – by a factor of three.

“Saudi Arabia also accounts for a growing number of students enrolled in the K-12 education system in the GCC – although the current share of K12 education is lower than other GCC states,” Dino Varkey, CEO of GEMS Education, told Al Arabiya English in an emailed statement.

“Strong government support over the past few years has led to the continuous expansion of the education sector, especially through an increased role of the private sector,” he said.

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