Back to School 2021: In Pictures!

A new school year has started for many of the UAE's schools. Look out for pictures from your school in this special feature!
Back to School 2021: In Pictures!
By Jenny Mollon
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After a long summer break, UAE schools have reopened for the 2021-22 academic year and in this live blog we bring you all the excitement and photos!  Do you have a back to school photo you would like to share?  Email it to [email protected]

UAE schools have returned under a brand new set of Covid-19 safety protocols (read about the Dubai and Abu Dhabi guidelines in our recent articles), but despite the rules and regulations, students and teachers alike look delighted to be back to their classrooms.  In our cover photo, a young Regent International School student has arrived with flowers for her teacher - what a great way to start the year!


A young Regent International School student prepares for the first lessons of the new school year

Regent Principal Jason King had this to say on returning to school,

"It's great to see the bright, young and hungry for learning faces entering our school. Our Regent Parents have been wonderful in supporting us with following protocol by keeping their Al Hosn apps open so we can check their vaccination status. When it comes to the safety of the school and our families, it is a collaborative effort, right from the administration staff, teachers, to our parents. They have all been supportive in making the first day of school safe and exciting. What a fantastic start to the first day of school and academic year!"

Dubai's first Australian curriculum school, the Australian International School, Dubai will open to students this week.  Behind the scenes, staff have been making the school a warm and welcoming space for students.


The Australian International School, Dubai classrooms are ready for students!

At sister school the Australian International School, Sharjah, preparations for a new school year were also in place for the start of the new school year...


The Australian International School in Sharjah is ready for children to make a safe return to school

Teachers and school leaders at AIS Sharjah have been readying learning environments to allow students to make a safe return to school.  Signage dotted around the school helps students to adhere to Covid-19 safety regulations. 

A spokesperson for the school had this to say;

"We are all super excited to see our students and families and have come up with fantastic new ways of greeting each other while maintaining mandatory social distance. Here’s to staying safe happy and healthy this new academic year!"

The school's teachers shared the excitement:

"I can’t wait to see all your smiling faces again! I look forward to observing, sharing and experiencing the most engaging, inspiring, rewarding, and memorable year yet at AIS Sharjah" Miss Sousan Roufi, Head of Curriculum - Primary Pedagogy 

"I am looking forward to the beautiful sound of children’s laughter filing the corridors as we begin a new and exciting academic year." Leon McKenna, Teacher

Meanwhile, at Sunmarke School, parents wished their children well before the start of a new school year. 


A quick hug from Mum or Dad before back to class for these Sunmarke International School students

"We were delighted to welcome students back to Sunmarke School for the start of the new academic year. Despite record numbers of new students, the whole school community was wonderful in adhering to the new KHDA Protocols, and we had a smooth start to the year. All students have settled into their new classes and there is a wonderful atmosphere in the school as we anticipate a great year ahead". Dr. Neil Hopkin, Principal, Sunmarke School

It is not just schools reopening their doors today.  Dubai's youngest students are also returning to nursery. In the picture below, a young Little Land Nursery attendee prepares for a day of fun and learning at her Umm Suqeim nursery.


Ready for play and learning at Little Land Nursery, Umm Suqeim

At GEMS Wellington Academy - Al Khail, three members of the Webb family were looking forward to joining the school.  The family have recently arrived in the UAE from the UK.

"My name is Lydie Webb. It’s my first year at this school. It’s their first year as well. We’re coming from the UK. I’m going to be teaching languages and they’re very excited to be in school. She’s going to be in Year 1 and he’s going to be in Year 4. We’re excited about all the new opportunities and all the new activities they’re going to get to do this year – especially swimming, definitely looking forward to that. So, we’re very happy to be here and very happy to start school".  Lydie Webb, parent and teacher, GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail

"My name is Oliver Webb. I am 8 years old and I’m very happy today because I’d like to see all the different activities in my class".  Oliver Webb, Student 


The Webb family, all joining GEMS Wellington Academy - Al Khail

Brand new school the Royal Grammar School Guildford, Dubai  opened to pupils today after years of  painstaking planning, and construction. The school opened without a hitch (as far as we could see!) and everyone looked super smart in their RGS uniforms!

A delighted Head of Prep Clare Turnbull described the opening of the school as a "monumental moment"; 

“What a journey it has been that has led us to this monumental moment. From finally moving into our beautiful campus, to welcoming our wonderful team of teachers and setting up our learning spaces – we are all set and very excited to have welcomed our first cohort of young people and to make them feel proud of being our founding Guildfordians in Dubai.

"The year ahead looks bright, and we will continue with our very best efforts to provide the best quality education and school experience for all of our pupils. We will inspire and help them to develop the skills they need to be world ready through the school’s forward looking and balanced education, fostering close relationships with our new community of parents and partners in Dubai. This is all part of the vibrant learning community and caring culture of RGSGD.”


Head of Prep Clare Turnbull welcomes students to the brand new RGS Dubai. (Above). Below; RGS Principal Craig Lamshed was also on hand to welcome students



This GEMS Wellington Academy - Al Khail student looks delighted to be back to school!

New schools, and improved ones: The team at GEMS Wellington Academy - Al Khail have spent the summer upgrading the school, ready for the return of pupils. 

In the words of Principal, Campbell Douglas;

".... We are excellently delighted to be welcoming back our students for the new academic year ahead. We’ve upgraded our amazing facilities. We’re really excited about what opportunities we can offer students for the coming academic year. As always, safety is our absolutely our top priority but with the easing of restrictions, we are absolutely delighted about what lies ahead and look forward to the new year with great excitement."


Back to school was a family affair at GEMS International School - Al Khail



Jaimee, Jainee and Jaicee Reyes. Sisters in years 6, 2 and FS2 at The Winchester School



A very cool looking Zahran Hassan joined Year 1 at Ambassador International Academy



Shayan Hassan joined his older brother at Ambassador International Academy.  Shayan will be in KG2



One very happy Dunecrest American School family!

In the leafy green district of Al Barari, Dunecrest American School has reopened for a fourth year in operation.  Director Jeff Smith anticipates a exciting times ahead,

"After the extended period of the summer break, it is always exciting to see and hear the school come back to life. There is a buzz in the air as students greet each other and talk about their vacations with boundless enthusiasm. It is heart warming to see the students and teachers greet each other; it is obvious how much they have missed each other and how strong the teacher student relationships are at Dunecrest.   

"There are exciting times ahead. Dunecrest moves into its next stage of development as we move into the fourth year of operation. We have a fantastic team of teachers support staff who are dedicated and excited about the school’s future direction. We will build on what we have achieved so far and ensure we continue to develop in order to maximize student choice and variety of experience."


A happy Deira International School family on Day 1 of term

The Al Futtaim Education Foundation schools in Festival City also reopened this week.  Simon O'Connor, Director at Deira International School was pleased with the new Covid19 safety protocols from the KHDA.  

“We have been looking forward to today so much. The students returning have brought life back to the school and we are all delighted to see them, and to hear of their adventures over the summer. The new protocols in place mean we can do so much more, promising an exciting year for all. We can’t wait to get started.” Simon O'Connor, Deira International School


Students also returned to Universal American School this week

At nearby Universal American School, Director Janecke Aarnaes praised her students ambassadors for welcoming new students to the school.  Ms Aarnaes said,    

"Our educators' hearts are bouncing with bubbly joy and anticipation as we celebrate being back in action with our students on campus! At UAS, we celebrate the purposeful advocacy of our Scorpion Ambassadors who help make a large group of new and curious students feel an immediate sense of belonging to the UAS community. United with all our returning students, our doors are swung open for an inspiring year of learning."


Happy Safa British School students return to school!



We love the enthusiasm in this young Jumeirah International Nursery, Downtown attendee!

At Jumeirah International Nursery, Downtown, lots of little learners were back to class.  Nursery Manager, Ms Nami Nayar, was enjoying watching them make friends.

"It’s an absolute pleasure to see shining eyes and smiling faces back as they explore, learn, and make new friends. We have some very exciting activities on the horizon. Thank you to all parents and guardians for helping to prepare the children for the first day of Nursery, as this had a huge impact on helping to make each day successful. There is no doubt that we still have routines and protocols to become familiar with, but we are confident in being able to start the Nursery year positively.
Together, as JINS Downtown staff, children and families, we will make our Nursery a safe, stimulating and exciting place for children to thrive".

If your school opened this week, celebrate with us! Share your back to school photos by emailing [email protected] and we'll publish them ASAP!

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