Cranleigh to open campus on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi

Cranleigh School is delighted to announce the opening of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi – the largest school campus in Abu Dhabi – in 2014

Over the last 18 months, Cranleigh has been in talks with key parties in Abu Dhabi regarding the possibility of setting up a Cranleigh Abu Dhabi campus on Saadiyat Island – the Emirate’s most aspirational destination. A project team of Sam Watkinson (OC 1977-1987), Rick Johnson (OC 1986-1991) and Mike Wilson have over the past 18 months been working towards this ground-breaking expansion of our vision – further assisted by several OCs based in the region including Sanjeev Doshi (2 North 1991) Simon Copleston (Loveday 1991) and Nick Whitfield (1&4 South 1991) – and it is with great pleasure that we are able to announce the signing of contracts last weekend.

Cranleigh School and the Royal Group based in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the Emirate’s key developer of major cultural and residential destinations, will open Cranleigh Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island in 2014. Built across seven hectares, designed to accommodate more than 1,600 students aged from 3 to 18 years, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will become the largest school campus in the Emirate. As with Cranleigh School and Cranleigh Preparatory School, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will incorporate separate, co-educational Junior and Senior schools, each with its own classrooms, faculty offices, administration offices, dining hall and library, set within green open spaces and extensive landscaping to create a truly inspirational environment. The school will introduce a broad academic curriculum, with emphasis on the individual, while a wealth of opportunities designed to reflect the Cranleigh ethos will allow students to explore their full range of talents in fine arts, performing arts, music, sports and cultural activities. Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will also offer boarding facilities – a first for Abu Dhabi – and the school’s facilities will all be designed around Cranleigh’s community- and family-oriented atmosphere.

Saadiyat is becoming an increasingly appealing destination with its prestigious residences, high-class sport and leisure venues, dynamic beach lifestyle and world-renowned hospitality brands, such as the St. Regis and Park Hyatt. The school will sit at the entrance to a cultural district, soon to be home to the Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi museums – all in keeping with Cranleigh’s motto, ‘Ex Cultu Robur’ (‘from culture comes strength’). The arrival of Cranleigh Abu Dhabi marks another important milestone in the island’s development into a premier destination, while demonstrating TDIC’s commitment to develop high-level education in Abu Dhabi. By 2014, all of the crucial education stages – from pre-school up to university level (in the form of New York University, Abu Dhabi) – will be available on Saadiyat. Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will be set up and operated independently of Cranleigh School and Cranleigh Prep, and will not impact in any way on the operations of the two Schools in the UK. The partnership will, however, be based on close mutual co-operation between the UK and Abu Dhabi schools, and will bring a wealth of opportunities to both sides.

Anthony Townsend, Chairman of the Governors, Cranleigh School, stated: “We are extremely excited by Cranleigh Abu Dhabi. As Cranleigh School approaches its 150th anniversary, it is very appropriate that we should look to expand our horizons and consolidate our position as one of the UK’s leading independent schools. A host of recent academic, art, music and sporting achievements by Cranleighans and Old Cranleighans – many at national and international level – all serve to reaffirm our belief in the importance of a truly all-round education. We are extremely proud that TDIC has chosen to partner with Cranleigh in one of the world’s most forward-thinking nations: the fact that it has done so is testament to its belief in the Cranleigh ethos, and the value it places on everything that Cranleigh as a whole – its pupils, staff and wider community – achieves.”

Mr Townsend went on to say: “I congratulate TDIC’s senior management for their vision: Cranleigh, in turn, will play its part in delivering a world-class school of which both Saadiyat and Abu Dhabi can be proud.”

His Excellency Mubarak Hamad Al Muhairi, Managing Director of TDIC, stated: “We are proud to have forged this partnership with one of the UK’s most well-established educational institutions. Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will aim to provide a first-class academic education, not only for the residents of Saadiyat, but for the wider community of Abu Dhabi. It will be a centre of excellence in science, arts, technology and Arabic curriculum. This is indeed another remarkable demonstration of how TDIC is partnering with the best in every sector as Abu Dhabi is investing heavily to boost the local educational sector.”

Hamed Al Ameri, Royal Group’s Chief International Investments Council, stated: “Over the last two years, Royal Group has formed a strong relationship with the highly regarded team at Cranleigh School. Together, we look forward to working with TDIC towards their vision of establishing Cranleigh Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island.”

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi will house specialist facilities for music, science, art, design and technology, drama, dance and sport, as well as state-of-the-art IT facilities with the latest technology for its pupils. These will be complemented by a 650-seat auditorium, 2,900-square-metre sports centre and 19,300 square metres of outdoor fields with generously spacious recreational areas. The sporting facilities will include two grass pitches, an Astroturf pitch, four tennis courts, two swimming pools and an indoor arena with two full-sized courts, which can be used for basketball, football or badminton, or as a gymnasium. There will be separate dance studios and drama suites.

Commenting on this initiative, His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al-Khaili, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) said: “ADEC has been supporting the development of world-class private schools to help encourage quality education. By attracting leading education institutions such as Cranleigh to Abu Dhabi, we are supporting the Emirate’s long-term educational vision. Our private school sector strategy focuses on increasing access to private schools and improving the quality of education by focusing on students’ performance, while also stressing on high-standard teaching methods and leadership qualities. We are proud to welcome more quality schools into the market.”

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi – designed by Godwin Austen Johnson Architects, the UK-based award-winning architectural firm established in 1847 – is currently in the schematic design phase, which will be ready by the first quarter of 2013.

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