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Thu 30 May 2019 12:04 PM

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Dubai's GEMS Education JV acquires Saudi Arabia's largest schools operator

New JV is planning to build around 50 new schools in the kingdom

Dubai's GEMS Education JV acquires Saudi Arabia's largest schools operator
Sad Alfdly, CEO of Hassana and Sunny Varkey, Founder of GEMS Education

Dubai-based education provider GEMS Education and its Saudi joint venture partner, Hassana Investment Company, are planning to build more than 50 new schools as part of a deal to acquire the largest schools operator in the kingdom.

The JV will see the new schools provide education for more than 100,000 students across the kingdom, GEMS said in a press statement on Thursday.

As part of the agreement the JV partners have acquired the Ma’arif Education Group, the largest private school owner and operator in Saudi Arabia. The national and international schools operated by the group provide education for more than 22,000 students.

Bloomberg reported in March that the deal to acquire Ma’arif could be worth about $400 million.

“The Ma’arif acquisition of 14 schools is an ideal platform from which to grow and we are incredibly excited about further expansion in the country. Saudi is one of the most attractive growth markets for GEMS Education and we are committed to supporting the education sector in the country,” Dino Varkey, CEO of GEMS Education was quoted as saying.

“The joint venture between Hassana and GEMS is a formalization of our ambitious plan to invest in the education sector in Saudi Arabia. The joint venture aims at generating strong returns on investment over the long term whilst providing best-of-class education services,” Saad Al-Fadly, CEO of Hassana Investment Company added.

GEMS Education’s JV with Hassana Investment Company - a Saudi asset management firm that is part of the General Organization for Social Insurance - was announced in October on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Dubai. The deal $800 million deal aims to build a network of new schools for 130,000 students across the kingdom, creating around 16,000 new jobs, 40 percent of whom are expected to be Saudi nationals.

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