Cranleigh Abu Dhabi

Our family of schools includes Cranleigh Preparatory School, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi and Kawama, our sponsored school in Kitwe, Zambia.

Our sister school in Abu Dhabi brings many opportunities for cultural and physical exchange for our communities. To find out more about Cranleigh Abu Dhabi please visit



Cranleigh Abu Dhabi From the Executive Principal Mike Wilson

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi was Cranleigh’s first venture abroad. The brainchild of well connected Old Cranleighans living in the UAE, it was steered from dream to reality by a team steeped in Cranleigh history. The key was capturing the Cranleigh ‘feel’ and ethos without trying to replicate a UK school in the Middle East. Based on a philosophy that educates the whole child and a realisation that education is a life-long journey, Cranleigh Abu Dhabi has had a vibrant start to its existence. Our academic results are already amongst the best in the UAE, our sports teams are competitive, and our creative arts have earned us international recognition. Sitting at the entrance to the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island, Cranleigh now educates over 1,600 pupils from 74 different countries. More than 30 different languages are spoken, making Cranleigh a truly ‘international’ school, which chimes well with our global motto, Ex Cultu Robur – ‘From Culture Comes Strength’. 


Fast Facts Opened

Opened: In September 2014 with the class of 2019 being the first to complete A Levels and also become the first Old Cranleighans from Cranleigh Abu Dhabi.

Located: on Saadiyat Island, five miles out of central Abu Dhabi, the school is surrounded by cultural places of interest
including The Abu Dhabi Louvre, low density urban development and beaches.

1,600 Students attend the school, ranging from age 4 to 18 and covering over 70 different student nationalities. British Curriculum is taught with senior school students taking iGCSEs, A Levels and EPQs before leaving for a range of universities, predominantly in the UK and US.

Awards: In 2017 Cranleigh Abu Dhabi was voted TES Best New British International School of the Year and in 2019 won the coveted Best British International School of the Year in the Performing Arts category.

Named among the Top 100 Private Schools in the world and ranked within the top 5 Private Schools in the Middle East by Spear’s Schools Index.


Cranleigh By Name, 

Cranleigh By Nature

Sporting Success: The Cranleigh ‘sport for all’ approach complemented by elite sport development is the framework for sporting provision. The School’s golf scholarship has produced boys and girls now playing in national competitions.

Putting on a Show: The 2018 ‘Water in the Desert’ Opera project saw the School partner with the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Culture, gaining local and international recognition.

Environmental innovators: The school has become a global ambassador for the Dr Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots Foundation, which aims to develop compassionate, environmentally aware leaders of the future.

Leading By Example: Students as young as Year 8 have enjoyed school trips to under-resourced areas of Cambodia where they have been involved in community projects.

Caring Community: The School has recently gained accreditation for both Pastoral and Wellbeing initiatives through the National Children’s Bureau, UK and was rated as ‘Outstanding’ in all six categories in its latest ADEK inspection.


Cranleigh Connections Student Exchanges:

A (Covid-19 interrupted) bi-annual music tour has been established since 2016 with Cranleigh UK students next due to visit Abu Dhabi in October 2022. There has also been a small but steady flow of students looking to stay in the Cranleigh Family, in both directions.

Staff Interchanges: Regular movement of staff between the schools occurs in both directions. The Executive Principal, Mike Wilson, was Head of Cranleigh Prep before moving to lead Cranleigh Abu Dhabi but there are many other examples across the spectrum of teaching age ranges and subjects. In recent years several UK staff, including David Futcher, George Royall and Richard Saxel, have also spent time in Abu Dhabi running specialist workshops.

Connections and Collaborations: Supporting each other at a teacher and student level is important. Amongst other examples, recently students have collaborated on eco projects, competed against each other in the van Hasselt political essay competition and raced against each other in virtual exercise challenges!

Heads Together: Open dialogue exists between the leadership at the schools to ensure we maximise the opportunity for sharing best practice. Termly joint SLTs take place and the new platform for curriculum and CPD development is now flourishing, led by Dr John Taylor at Cranleigh School.

Leadership Links: Two of our school governors (Simon Whitehouse and Monica Fisher), sit with James Dale-Adcock on full board meetings of the school with colleagues from Aldar Education, the Abu Dhabi parent company of the school.