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The International School of Choueifat Dubai Review

What is the purpose of education? As an institution, Choueifat, and the SABIS model it is based upon, asks exactly that question. While it is very clear in its answer, not everyone is convinced although enough are to make this a very popular school.
Parents' Rating
3.0 out of 5 based on 14 reviews
At a glance
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All through
Curricula taught
Availability 2019/20
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Availability 2020/21
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Annual fee average
AED 27,500
Annual fees
AED 18,234 - 34,896
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Opening year
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Sep to Jun
Mr Hisham Hassan
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A mix of nationalities

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2.4km • EYFS curriculum
3km • Montessori curriculum
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The International School of Choueifat Dubai
School phase
All through
Curricula taught
Availability 2019/20
radio_button_unchecked No data
Availability 2020/21
radio_button_unchecked No data
Annual fee average
AED 27,500
Annual fees
AED 18,234 - 34,896
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jun
Mr Hisham Hassan
Main teacher nationality
Main student nationality
A mix of nationalities
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First Published:
Saturday 7 July, 2012

Monday 17 February, 2020

What is the purpose of education? As an institution, Choueifat, and the SABIS model it is based upon, asks exactly that question. While it is very clear in its answer, not everyone is convinced although enough are to make this a very popular school.

The International School of Choueifat Dubai has been rated Acceptable for the ninth year in a row in the 2018-19 KHDA inspection process. An abbreviated inspection report can be found under the Inspection report tab. An update to this review will be completed once the full report has been published.

The story so far...

Located in Al Sufouh, the original Dubai branch of the International School of Choueifat was established in 1994.  A second branch aimed at meeting the consistent demand (and long waiting lists) opened in Dubai Investment Park in 2012.

A review of The International School of Choueifat, Dubai could easily be a debate on the purpose of education: Is a school primarily a mechanism to achieve academically and get into a good university, or is there something more holistic than that - to develop the mind, intellect, curiosity and the person?

 Being a second year university student, I see students from different schools struggling with the work load. One question I’m met with everyday is “How do you manage..?”. My answer: “Choueifat” - See reader comments for more. 

The Dubai school takes on children from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in 123 classes across the year groups with some 4,000 students attending in total. The majority of students learned Arabic as a first language. Arab students comprised by far the largest group, with significant numbers of Emirati, Indian, Pakistani, US, Iranian, Canadian and UK students.

There are approximately 160 teachers, and a teacher-student ratio of one teacher to twenty seven students (high). The KHDA notes that class sizes are often large. Teacher turnover, at 25%, is also on the high side.

The majority of teachers are recruited from Ireland. Class sizes are quite large, with a teacher to student ratio of 1:27 (outside of KG). KG class sizes are also large with 1 teacher to 22 children (2014/15 figures).

What about the curriculum?

The school offers both UK and US based curricula. IGCSE, AS and A-levels are based upon the National Curriculum of England and Wales, while AP and SAT tests were of US origin.  However the teaching methodology is based on the 130 year old SABIS system - the differentiating factor for all Choueifat schools.

Choueifat is well known for its prescriptive form of education, and has remained immune to the fashion sweeping across the education world for child led learning through discovery as embodied in philosophies such as Montessori or Reggio Emilia.

In fact, Choueifat in Dubai is one of a select few schools that has moved down the KHDA's ranking largely because it is impervious to requests for change.  This is particularly so in the context of individual student assessment and curriculum adaptation, and all the more so in the context of the Dubai Schools Inclusive Education policy - the school does not acknowledge the need to additional inclusive support for children with additional learning needs.

Note, not all students choose to take external examinations. Most students complete their education in Grade 12, with only a few completing a 13th Year.

What about academic achievement?

One suggestion we have for the school is to publish its academic results, and where students go to university. On the web site, the marketing copy includes references to the likes of Oxford and Harvard - but given the size of the school and decades of students, if someone had not entered an Ivy League institution that would have been something of a surprise. The school's web site is very backwards about coming forwards, really it tells you nothing.

To back up its claim to achieve academically we would advise the school publishes its results transparently each year, along with the university destination of its students. This is after all its primary selling proposition. At the moment we have to take their word for it, which, when you are talking about something as important as your child's education, is just not good enough.

What the inspectors say

For the last nine years now, including the latest inspection report for 2018/19, Choueifat, Dubai has been ranked Acceptable, below the Good rating that the KHDA, Dubai's education regulator, deems to benchmark for schools in the emirate.

From the 2012/13 report: "The school had made little other progress since the last inspection because it did not take action on the report’s recommendations."

From the KHDA 2012/13 report: "The SABIS organisation ensured the continuity of the school’s educational values but it did not allow the school freedom to innovate or develop...Recommendations from the previous inspection had not been addressed. The school remained non-compliant with the Ministry of Education curriculum requirements for Islamic Education and Arabic. It was the policy of the school to minimise parents’ involvement in their children’s learning and contact with teachers. The school did not take into account, or act on, views of stakeholders. The school functioned satisfactorily on a day to day basis but its evaluations of its own performance were inaccurate."

Subsequent reports have largely followed in the same vein. That the school disregards outside influence in spite of the pressure to conform, is in some ways impressive. The KHDA itself notes that the school's "promise to parents that every student would achieve a place at university was true for most of the children who stayed (note, not all do) to Grade 12."  'Under performing' children need to take extra lessons over the weekend to get them up to scratch'. This is clearly a school that does not like academic failure.

The question is whether less prescriptive forms of education can achieve as much academically, while liberating the child's mind for more innovative, less restricted thinking. Clearly the KHDA thinks so stating that while the school’s methods of education were suitable for the oldest students to acquire a good enough knowledge and examination technique in a limited range of subjects, its methods of education were much less appropriate for younger students, especially the children in Kindergarten.

"At this level, the restricted range of subjects and activities in the curriculum did not allow students to develop their own individual skills, talents and creativity." Perhaps most telling, displays and activities - the sign of child led learning are minimal at the school.

There are many parents - and students - that swear by the Choueifat, SABIS methodology, and there are many adults in Dubai that have graduated from the school and gone onto great things in the business world, and beyond. However, what is clear is that the Choueifat approach is traditional, strict and quite 'closed', and it has to be one that you think is right for your child. 

Choueifat international school are also located Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah, Ruwais, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain.

Fees at Choueifat Dubai range from AED 19,833 in KG1 to AED 37,958 in Grade 12/Year 13.


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27 Archived Comments
Archived 20th Oct 2016, 08:27

It's nice to hear some positive reviews about the school as I'm planning to get my son into this school. As a Muslim mother I have some concerns about Islamic studies and Arabic language... Can anyone reply what are prospects of these two in the school.. Regards

Archived 13th Oct 2016, 12:49

Hi all, I'm planning to apply for my daughter in Choueifat next year for KG1, any advise regarding the assessment process?

I've went to see the Barsha branch and I really liked it, although I didn't like the fact that there was no swimming pool for younger kids.

Can anyone also tell me if they get to do arts and music activities, as I heard the school is a little weak when it comes to the creative activities.

Thanks :)

Archived 7th Oct 2016, 09:19

I have three kids in Choeuifat. I never think twice about which school to choose. My daughter is in grade 11 and she excels in all external exams. She has time for piano, swimming, reading and sport. 90% of extra currecular activities are for free. Its up to the student to enroll in a club and show up on time during break or after school and the student is rewarded with (SLO) points which added to his certificate. SLO stands for student life organization. The break is long about 1:30 hrs, this gives a child a chance to do SLO, go to library, attend extra classes or play with freinds. SLO activities are very wide and its mostly run by students them selves. The school offers free trips to Greece for a leadership course to those who qualify. There is no limit on how many extra currecular activities the child can cope with, and most of them are for free.

Its true that the school teaches students to be independent learners. My daughter studied the O Level biology course on her own and scored 99%. If your child is motivated and welling to take extra classes, even more than the all ready rigorous curreculum, sky is the limit. The school prepares students for any international exam they want to choose (IGCSE, SAT and AP).

This prepares children to persue studies any where in the world they choose. Social development is very strong due to the long breaks and the wide range of activities available. The school intruduced technology for all grades. All students have tablets with all books downloaded, smart board and most important ILS, which allow teachers to send questions and study material through the web, monitors the progress of each studend. This encourages students to be self learners as early as first grade. One of the endless features of this school is that you can relocate to almost anyware in the works and your child will progress as if no change has happens.

I once changed my daughter school 3 times in one single year. My daughter had same material, same books and same tests. All schools teach the same curriculum, at the same time, and use same tests. The school does not advertise much, because they don't have to. I must go now and dont have time to tell you about the Advicing class and the Folk dance class and the Sis Uk school, thet your child can attend for 1 term starting from 7th grade to have a boarding experience in UK.

Archived 14th Jun 2016, 01:15

This is a parent who has decided to remove her children from Choueifat. The only reason that they have stayed there to date is due to it being one of the most cost effective schools in the emirates.

This is a parental warning all potential parents who are thinking of admitting their kids to Choueifat.

This is a school where children have to memorise sheet after sheet of revision papers, without never really understanding the content.

This is a school where at the age of 14 a child has never had the opportunity to actually participate in a science experiment. Rather the experiments are taught from looking at the pictures in a textbook, yet the student has to memorise all the 'knowledge gained' from that so called experiment for a subsequent test.

This is a school where if a student doesn't make an acceptable average in a subject, that they end up losing their break or lunch hour to have 'extra lessons'. These so called extra lessons are taught by children of the same grade!

This is a school who force parents to purchase the whole range of school text books running into thousands of dirhams, notwithstanding that the children have pristine copies of the very same books from their older siblings sitting at home.

This is a school where students have one meagre physical education lesson per week, one music lesson and one art lesson per week.

This is a school that provides their grade 4 students (8and 9 year olds) with colouring books that serves as their art lessons.

This is a parent who is telling you that this amount of unnecessary pressure [can] have a negative impact on your child. In my opinion, nothing is worth your child losing their childhood, creativity and independence for.

Phan Tran
Archived 11th Sep 2016, 21:22

Thank you very much for spending your time writing this review, which is really helpful for other parents like us.

Archived 17th Feb 2016, 22:29

My daughter have been in Choueifat school for 7 years now. I had raised many concerns to the school management in regards to child safety. I have visited the administration personally more than 5 times and none of my concerns were ever addressed properly. Parents feedback is never appreciated or acknowledged.

My daughter was injured in the school and the school management took the matter very lightly. They do not verify who picks up children from school premises...

The learning is more of directive and repetition rather than encouraging creativity, motivation or self development.

Children are often motivated by a fear of detention.

I have decided to move my daughter to better environment which provides a safe protected school environment, that encourages children to explore, learn and develop. It is not always about academics but it's a combination of academic learning and social development.

The school administration holds the attitude of... if you're not happy... it's ok you can move on... We have a waiting list!

Archived 4th Jan 2016, 11:12

I would like to transfer my daughter to Choueifat. Now she is in 6 grade in our country where her primary language is Russian. Could you please advise if there is any material (tests or books) she should review for any diagnostic entrance exam there may be? Is it key stage 2 level 6 to pass diagnostic test to grade 7? Thank you in advance for any help.

Lyn Soppelsa
Archived 6th Jan 2016, 21:50

Hi Assel,

You would need to contact the school directly to obtain this detailed information. The main criterion for schools here is the date of birth of the child, together with the transfer certificate. Choueifat does not follow the UK curriculum (which is the test and grade that you are referring to). The usual process is to test both English and Maths, but only the school can advise exactly what the test will be.

Archived 9th Dec 2015, 15:13

Is it hard to get a place for KG1 level in ICS Al sufouh 2?

Archived 5th Dec 2015, 09:57

I was in Choueifat too, but I recently moved to another school and I am honestly saying this that in my current school we don't have ams or periodic but we do have homeworks which we are graded for effort. The only thing that happens at Choueifat is studying and in my school it is compulsory to have 2 ECAs and thats very good of them to encourage students to do other things than education.

Archived 22nd Apr 2015, 09:02

I would like to clear out all the doubts that parents have regarding this school.

First, don't take the opinion of student for this, yes, I'm a Choueifat High School Graduate as well, but while being there, almost 65% of the students have a negative outlook of Choueifat, so the majority of opinions you'll hear from Choueifat students will be quite harsh. However, I'd like to shed light on what's more accurate.

It's true, Choueifat just isn't for everyone. Its curriculum is extremely tough, I've had the curriculum compared with schools from a variety of boards, be it CBSE, American, British, IB, etc. The curriculum is significantly more challenging and more demanding. While it does get tough for 99% of Choueifat students to cope with the workload (hence, the negative outlook), once they leave Choueifat, they realize that all that workload was worth it.

Choueifat grooms you in such a way, that without even realizing, you develop strong and independent thinking, and exceptional time management skills. Now that I'm an undergraduate student, I constantly see my peers running after teachers and students for help with their studies, however, I manage to handle it on my own every single time, thanks to Choueifat.

I'll admit, while I was in Choueifat, yes, I despised it too. It seemed like our lives were revolving around education, education, education. However, now that we've all graduated and started our undergraduate studies, I can assure you, not just me, but all my other Choueifat classmates as well, feel that while we despised our school some years back, it really did polish and groom us, which definitely makes us stand apart from the remaining students at our universities. In fact, once my professor even remarked, "You can instantly spot a Choueifat graduate in the middle of 100 students"

So, think wisely. If you absolutely feel that your child will not be able to cope with it, then don't put them through the pressure. However, let me assure you that Choueifat does make sure that you're being able to excel in every test, and every exam. For example, if you fail a test/exam, you're given the option to not just go for a resit once (like in other schools), it's mandatory for every student to keep attempting that failed test until it receives a passing grade. This ensures that no student falls behind the remaining students.

So, to summarize, yes, Choueifat will be the toughest aspect of your child's life (more than university for sure), however, I can assure you that there's not a single student at Choueifat who would utter, "Ah yes! I can easily manage all this workload"
The struggle exists for everyone, however, once your child graduates from Choueifat, they will definitely be 10 steps ahead of other graduates from competing schools, be it American, British, CBSE or IB.

Archived 18th Aug 2016, 01:48

I do agree that the curriculum can be effective, but I would also say the schools' approach is not always beneficial to children. My older son came home crying one day saying that one of the teachers had been picking on him. Naturally I went to the school to speak to said teacher. His response was that it was not his fault his parents had not taught him to strong and deal with things, that it was only his job to teach science.

"He wouldn't learn the information, so I had to teach him the hard way."

Keep in mind that my son was only 9 at the time.

Anonymous says
Archived 23rd May 2015, 17:41

Its really nice to read your review. Can u pls share your opinion about the Environment of Choueifat DIP Branch. Planning to place by children in this September.

Archived 7th Jun 2015, 18:15

My daughter has been studying in Chouiefat DIP since 2013. The school campus is relatively new. I was having second thoughts before in placing my child at Chouiefat. But after two years, I have no regrets at all. My daughter enjoys school so much and she is more advance compared to my friends' kids who are studying in other schools. I know some parents who have children who graduated from Chouiefat. They say their kids were able to cope up with university life because of their experience at Chouiefat.

Archived 23rd Apr 2015, 15:35

I definitely agree with this review. Choueifat might be incredibly tough, but it's definitely rewarding in the long-term. I would recommend all parents to invest in this school rather than a school that wastes time by encouraging students to be creative and innovative, because while that's enjoyable, it's definitely not what would help them in the future. I've seen several top schools in this region (American, British, IB) that encourage such a system by adding courses like singing and dancing. While this is something that students would obviously enjoy, they'll definitely find themselves at a disadvantage once their studies at university-level and workload at corporate level starts to pile up. Choueifat trains its students to be outshiners for the rest of their lives, not just in high school.

Archived 30th Mar 2015, 14:10

I wanted to know what happens if you were unable to score high in you're IGCSE and failed it but have an acceptable average is it fine or will it be really hard to enter UOS

Archived 3rd Apr 2015, 21:11

Mary u mean that children moving from CBSE will find difficult in IGCSE exams. Also would like to know about UOS.

Archived 25th Mar 2015, 10:54

Pls I need a help to know it's advisable to change a child from cbse curriculum to sabis @ grade 9. Currently he is in DPS & he is capable of scoring 85% overall. I heard english is bit high compared to cbse.
Anyone who changed from cbse to sabis pls share your opinion about the school academics, environment & etc.

Archived 8th Mar 2015, 21:15

I am a student there and I would like to say that there are many positive aspects about this school. However, likewise there are many negative ones. First and foremost, it's very tough and stressful. I have friends in lower grades who have informed me that their history classes were canceled and in exchange they added physics. For physics, they have no teachers and therefore students are the one's teaching PHYSICS classes. As for chemistry, freshmen are given unqualified teachers to teach them chemistry.In their eyes, they consider this helpful as they are teaching us to become 'independent learners' and not 'illiterate listeners'. I mean, on paper it looks perfect but in actuality its a complete mess. This is exactly like how communism was, looked great on paper but in reality everyone was living in poverty. Not to mention, this school doesn't help develop your creativity. If anything, it does the complete opposite. I can honestly say that almost 99% of the student body memorizes the revision sheet for the sake of passing an exam. They treat us like 5 year old. Expect us to act like fully grown adults and examine us like adroit college students.

Rima Jabbar
Archived 25th Oct 2014, 15:21

Good school. But, sorry, just not in the same league whatsoever as other top tier American schools in Dubai (like ASD or DAA).

Archived 8th Feb 2015, 13:04

You cannot compare the school to " Top Tier " schools like ASD or DAA. Those schools charge the earth for primary school stage, typically dh 50k for KG2, going up to 70k or 80k a year as you progress to higher grades, whilst Choueifat fees are about 20k per year.

The least I would expect from the schools you refer to is a KHDA rating of Outstanding, any below that is simply not acceptable for the money that I would be paying. I agree with some of the opinions, ISC is not to everyone's taste, and a bit old fashioned in their teaching methods, however they do represent the best value for money compared to other schools.

Syed Irfan Ali
Archived 19th Apr 2014, 11:10

Hi, I'm planning to admit my son and daughter to Choueifat DIP Branch in class II and I respectively. Is there anyone whose children are going to this branch? What is your opinion about this school?

Archived 9th Jan 2014, 21:29

Hi there,
I have been hearing a lot about Choueifat's teaching standards and planning to apply for grade 1 admission for my son. Can anyone tell me if it is difficult to get admission in Choueifat Abu Dhabi? Thanks.

Archived 13th Jan 2014, 12:17

Hi Meghna
When we tried for our son for Grade 8 in Dubai Choueifat,it was full but finally they asked our son to take a test.The entrance test took around 4 hours and it was a very tough test comprising of several papers.It was really tough and not like the ones which are usually given in other schools.Here once the test is over,they come to know exactly which topic and subject your child needs to improve.The result they gave exactly tallied with our view point about his drawbacks and our son himself was surprised about the fact that they were able to understand his strong and weak points in a matter of four hours ,whereas the earlier school he had been to,DPS Sharjah couldn't do it even after being there for 9 years.But as your son is in the lower classes,admission might be easier.Good Luck.Try to enquire in the school as early as possible.

Archived 29th Mar 2015, 19:31


I am planning to change my children to Choueifat from DPS. Can u share your journey from DPS to Choueifat. Also would like to know about the Stream allocation either it is in grade 9 or in grade 11. How is the curriculum. Does the children move form CBSE able to achieve high scores in acadamics.

Archived 19th Nov 2013, 22:53

I agree with this student's view.My son is studying in Choueifat and I am very happy as a parent and he is very happy as a student .We agree that the school's approach towards academics is a bit tough ,but it helps the student to be self motivated and helps the child to learn time management at a very young age.Whatever the ratings of the school ,the school should be good if it can produce so many successful people into this world for many many years.The children learn moral values and learn how to behave towards other human beings . Extra curricular activities have been introduced in the school and it is the same with almost all other schools.If the child can spend time after school hours or on saturdays ,lot of scope for extra curricular activities in Choueifat.The longer school hours helps the children to have quality time with their friends and it helps to improve their social skills.They get a lot of opportunity for physical activities during the lunch break.The teachers are all excellent and helpful.In my 20 years in Dubai ,this is the best school and I would recommend it to anyone who wants their children to reach great heights ,rather than pamper them .Go for it ,your children will one day thank you for this decision.

Choose to remain anonymous
Archived 8th Nov 2013, 23:38

The opinion expressed in this review is rather harsh and uncalled for.

As a former Choueifat student, I can proudly say that although Choueifat's approach can be seen as rather too tough, all the hard work really does pay off. Being a second year university student, I see students around me from all different schools severely struggling with the work load, unable to cope with the several assignments and deadlines that we have to meet.

One question that I'm met with almost everyday, "How do you manage to finish everything on time?", my answer is always the same, "Choueifat".

Choueifat really does sculpt its students into building a brighter future. I agree that Choueifat lacks extra-curricular activities but that's because it chooses to focus on what's rather more important and practical for the future, academics. It teaches us how to manage time and cope with numerous tasks at the same time. It's not a co-incidence that almost all Choueifat students manage to score A*s and As in their external exams.

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