From the opening of the first school, The Pearl Academy in 2007, Aldar Academies has fast grown into a leading provider of private education across a network of seven Academies and one Nursery.
Aldar Academies continues to work towards its promise of ‘Delivering the highest standards of education and inspiring a love of learning.’ with plans to grow its current schools and build new ones which will expand its student capacity to over 14,000 in the coming years. These expansion plans also include ambition for Aldar Academies to enter the nursery sector, from where children will be able to take advantage of priority placements into Aldar Academies primary schools.
To date, Aldar Academies have invested more than Dh450 million in Abu Dhabi’s education sector as part of its commitment to the UAE’s 2030 vision. We see this as a long-term investment and will continue to invest in this sector as we expand.
EMPOWERING THE NEXT GENERATION TO SHAPE OUR FUTURE.
This is our “big idea”. It is what we are determined to achieve and the legacy we wish to leave. It is our intention and what we want to ensure happens.
DELIVERING THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF EDUCATION AND INSPIRING A LOVE OF LEARNING.
This is our commitment. This is what we do as a team every day. This is what others can expect from us and what we can expect in return. This is the way we do things.
EXCELLENCE, CREATIVITY, PASSION, RESPECT AND COLLABORATION
Our values define who we are. They are the fundamental beliefs of our organisation. They guide our actions and behaviour.
H.E. MOHAMED KHALIFA AL MUBARAK
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak is Chairman of Aldar Education and has overseen the company from its beginnings. Mohammed is passionate about the contribution that education makes to society and takes very seriously the role that Aldar Education plays in developing citizens of the future.
Mohamed is the Chairman of Aldar Properties PJSC. He is a member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and is the Chairman of the Department of Culture & Tourism of Abu Dhabi and also Chairman of Image Nation, which seeks to develop the UAE film industry through the production of films that take Emirati and regional stories to a wider global audience, as well as funding international motion pictures.
Prior to joining Aldar, Mohamed worked in London for Barclays Capital. A native of Abu Dhabi, he is a graduate of Northeastern University (USA), with a double Major in Economics and Political Science.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Sahar has extensive experience in global education management over a period of 25 years. She has spent the past 19 years in the UAE in various education based senior leadership roles.
Sahar has extensive management experience in leading the delivery of large, complex and multi-site projects in education. She has an established track record of business performance improvement in education through operational delivery, supply chain management, risk and governance, health and safety, strategy development and execution, project management, M&A integration, facilities and asset management, talent development, succession planning and change leadership.
Prior to joining Aldar Academies, Sahar was the Chief Schools Operations Officer at GEMS Education one of the largest K-12 private education providers globally. Her role centred around the empowering of schools to focus on delivering the best possible education by providing centralised operational support and commercial leadership for all non-academic group functions; focused on the alignment of strategy and programs to drive business value for internal and external stakeholders. Sahar was also responsible for the pre-operational deployment of over 50 new schools across multiple regions, ensuring each school was built with education at the forefront of the fit out, modelling and development.
Sahar was educated in the USA and attained a Master’s Degree (MBA) in International Management, graduating with honors from Southeastern University Washington DC.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Chris joined Aldar Education as CFO in September 2020. He has extensive experience across investor relations, corporate finance and broader finance roles. Prior to joining Aldar Education, Chris was Head of Investor Relations at Aldar Properties for over 6 years. In this role, he responsible for all investor-related activities surrounding both equity and debt capital markets and played a key role in several transformational projects.
Prior to this, Chris served in various roles within investor relations, corporate finance and finance at FTSE 100 mining group Antofagasta plc in London. His experience across various sectors and financial disciplines positions him well to steer the organisation through its next phase of growth.
Chris holds a First Class Hons in Finance from Lancaster University Management School and a chartered accountancy certification (ICAS).
DIRECTOR - STRATEGY & INNOVATION
Aryeah is a global education commercial leader with over a decade of regional experience in empowering schools to deliver the best possible education through providing central commercial and strategic support. He has been in the region for over two decades and has joined Aldar Academies as the Director of Strategy & Innovation in November 2018.
Prior to joining Aldar Academies, Aryeah served as the Vice President of Commercial Operations at a Dubai based global education provider for 5 years where he was responsible for developing commercial engagements with third parties, driving operational M&A integration initiatives and deploying global strategic sourcing activities across large, complex, multi-site projects. Throughout the past 5 years, Aryeah has been instrumental in overseeing the fit out and development of over 40 new schools in the region from concept design all the way through to delivery and operation.
Aryeah earned his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Texas A&M University and his Honors Bachelor of Science (H.Bsc) in Economics and Statistics from the University of Toronto.
DIRECTOR - OPERATIONS
Dave moved to the UAE in June 2013 after having managed a £35m construction project for a new Academy model in the UK. He worked in various school based administrative and operational roles within the UK before moving to the UAE to manage and lead the construction of a British premium private school in Dubai.
Dave joined Aldar Academies in December 2018 following a successful 5 years with a Dubai based global education provider as their Vice President of Operations. He brings more than 15 years of education management experience and has successfully led a network of 52 School based Operations Managers across the region, whilst also overseeing group wide support services, a housing portfolio for over 5,000 international teachers across the UAE and Support Staff accommodation for over 4,000 employees.
Dave is responsible for leading all school based Operations and Support Services along with the development and implementation of all group wide operational strategic aims, service delivery, external service provision, HSE development, and the international staff housing portfolio with a clear focus on supporting school leadership teams across our network of high quality schools.
DIRECTOR - PEOPLE & CULTURE
Sarah brings over 15 years of HR management and leadership experience to Aldar Education. Sarah has worked in HR roles within the education sector for 10 years; starting in a local education authority in the UK. Sarah joins us from a global technology company, in which she was the regional HR lead for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia regions.
Sarah is a skilled business partner to senior and executive leaders, and has extensive experience in building and leading HR teams in the creation and execution of companywide HR and talent strategy, aligned to company goals. Sarah will be building her team to appropriately support our business in its growth and in the development of our people.
Sarah holds a dual honours Bachelors (BA) in Law and HR; a first class Masters’ (MSc) in HR (focus on International HR and Employment Law); and is a chartered member of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development).
DIRECTOR - EDUCATION
Steve has worked in education for almost 20 years and spent most of that time in a variety of leadership positions, including, Head of School and Principal/CEO.
Steve has supported schools and Principals in the UK and UAE to develop new curriculum models, introduce innovative programmes of study, train senior leaders and prepare schools for inspection. He is experienced in school start-ups and new school buildings and expansions.
In addition to his work in school leadership he has also been employed by the International Baccalaureate Organization as a consultant and was made an IB Ambassador for the Europe, Africa and Middle East region. He has extensive experience of school improvement, raising standards and developing leadership capacity.
In addition to his Bachelor’s Degree, Steve holds the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, Management and Learning.
DIRECTOR - EDUCATION
Tracy is an educational leader who has experience, leading in UK, US and international education. She has extensive experience in educational innovation, new pedagogies, teacher professional development and school improvement. As a curriculum developer, Tracy is committed to interdisciplinary, innovative global citizenship education and service learning. She has recently been developing student and teacher global exchange experiences to enhance student learning.
Tracy has also been involved in research with Harvard Graduate School of Education Project Zero in the implementation of innovative pedagogy through teacher action research, exploring the creation of innovative communities within educational institutions. She has also been committed to student wellbeing and the correlation between wellbeing and academic performance.
Tracy is a published author on the IB Middle Years programme and was a Co-Founder of The Kindred Project; a unique NGO set up and led by students, supporting peers in developing schools in India, Morocco and Uganda. As a CIS inspector, she has also completed international accreditation visits at prestigious schools in Moscow and Prague. Tracy has a Master’s degree and Professional Diploma in International Education from the Institute of Education, University
DIRECTOR - EDUCATION
Donna joined Aldar Education in October 2020 from West Lothian Council in Scotland, where she was Head of Education with a proven track record of implementing transformational change across a range of Education Services. Donna provided strategic leadership to almost 80 primary and secondary schools, and 70 nurseries in all aspects of Education. She has extensive experience of leading Schools, Performance and Quality Improvement teams and Professional learning teams.
Donna has a wealth of experience, having started her career as a Physics Teacher before progressing into senior leadership and then three Principal posts, prior to her role as Head of Education.
Donna was a member of the Association of Directors of Education Scotland, representing all Directors on many Government boards holding a pivotal role leading change on a local and national level, including shaping and influencing the national curriculum. Donna has extensive experience in developing and implementing 3 – 18 curriculum models at school, local authority and national level. She has embraced international research and evidence-based approaches to influence the direction of travel in education for many years.
In addition, Donna was a Professional Associate Inspector with Education Scotland the National Improvement agency.
Donna holds an honours Degree in Physics, Scottish Qualification for Headship and Diploma in Pastoral Support.
Chris Nourse has been an educator for over 25 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education, The National Professional Qualification for Headship and the National Professional Qualification for School Inspection. He is a qualified trainer for middle and senior leaders in education. He has taught in Essex, two London Bourgh’s, Southampton, Surrey and Dorset. He joined Aldar Academies in 2009 as the founding Principal of Al Muna Academy in Abu Dhabi. He has led five schools – three in the UK and two in the UAE. Chris has been Principal of Al Ain Academy since January 2014. (ADEK rated very good with outstanding features).
His vision for the education is clear. All students achieve their personal best through outstanding teaching and learning. Students grow in confidence through respectful relationships, high expectations, and a broad and balanced diet of educational experiences. Academic stretch and challenge are complemented by sporting endeavour, creativity and innovation, and charitable work. Home and school work hand in glove to ensure the very best outcomes for all our children.
Neal has more than twenty years of experience working in international schools, with sixteen years in senior leadership positions across Europe and Asia. He has extensive experience in strategic planning, curricular planning and program development, accreditation and compliance systems, budgeting and financial management, risk management planning, and crisis management.
Over the course of his career, Neal has worked to develop opportunities for students that strengthen and enrich learning. Neal has developed service-learning programs, STEAM programs, mother tongue-based language programs, learning support systems, personalized learning systems.
Neal holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University, and a School Management and Leadership Certificate from Harvard University. He is a certified International Baccalaureate administrator, and an active member of the Association of International School Heads, and the Council of International Schools where Neal serves as an inspector.
After graduating high school, I gained a degree in Early Childhood Education at Edgehill University and then went on to study for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. My teaching and leadership experience now spans twenty years, in that time I have enjoyed a variety of roles including those of teacher, Early Years Coordinator, Head of Foundation Stage, and now Principal.
Since joining Aldar Academies in 2014 as Foundation Stage coordinator at Al Mushrif School, I then moved on to Al Mamoura Academy to lead the Foundation Stage and most proudly to Al Forsan Nursery as the Principal.
This breadth of experience has led me to develop a strong belief that children learn best when they are having fun and engaged in practical activities. I also believe that strong relationships with parents and the wider community are vital in ensuring that children are supported as they move through their school life. I am delighted to be working together with pupils, staff, and parents, at Al Forsan Nursery.
I look forward to seeing you in nursery and working with your children at Aldar Academies Al Forsan Nursery.
Sarah Weaver brings to Al Mamoura Academy over 17 years of leadership experience at both local and international levels; with eight of those being in the UAE. Sarah is now in her second year of leadership at Al Mamoura Academy and has already accomplished “Outstanding” judgements in the schools most recent BSO inspection and led the school to achieving the “Developed” status, the highest rating possible, for its distance learning programme.
Sarah brings experience of working in an Outstanding school and in one of the most improved schools within her educational groups network in the UAE. She was a highly successful Deputy Head Teacher in East London for over ten years, supporting her school to be the 4th most improved school in the United Kingdom.
During her career she has developed specialisms in; through school assessment, school improvement and early years education and as a result she has supported schools to achieve results of the highest calibre during their UK OFSTED inspections, External Reviews and KHDA Inspections.
Having been in education for the last 25 years I have witnessed many changes, however the one constant factor remains: An education is one of the most valuable things we can possess. It influences how we see the world and contribute to it.
I have been fortunate to be a part of Aldar Academies for the last 9 years, and fully endorse the vision that it is our purpose to empower the next generation to shape our future.
We achieve this effective by recognising the importance of a holistic approach to education, being fully inclusive and allowing children to develop their skills in which they can realise their dreams for their future.
Taking on the role as Principal of Al Muna in March 2020 has allowed me to continue my passion in developing a community approach to educating our children, where all stakeholders play a part in a child’s development.
Barbara Heaton joins the Pearl Academy with over 25 years' experience in educational leadership in the UAE, Spain and the UK.
Having completed the Accelerated Route N.P.Q.H. in 2000 as a Primary Head Teacher in the UK, Barbara moved to work in an International School in Spain where she taught in Primary and Secondary Departments broadening her experience teaching, amongst other subjects, English to GCSE. Here, she led Teaching and Learning across the whole school (Nursery to Year 13) and also held role of team inspector with NABSS (the National Association of Schools in Spain). She is now a BSO team inspector in the Middle East.
Throughout her career, Barbara has gained much experience in teaching second language learners as well as developing assessment and tracking systems to ensure students are maximising their potential and capabilities. She has developed planning and curriculum models which enable her to fulfil her passion for personalised learning and celebrating an individual's strengths, both as a person and a learner.
An experienced Principal and trusted leader who blends integrity, resilience and determination with strong strategic, operational and educational strategies. I have developed and led high performing British and international schools, inspiring parental and public confidence through academic excellence and building positive community relationships.
Holding a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and an MA in Leadership & Management (Education), I have also obtained by National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and qualified as a British School and Church School Inspector.
Since August 2019, I have been delighted to be able to use apply these skills and this experience at Al Yasmina Academy; a truly remarkable school community where students where all students ‘thrive’.
Our globally recognised and admired curriculum, dedicated and passionate practitioners and outstanding teaching and learning, sets us apart from other schools and makes Al Yasmina Academy a very special place to be.
With grades consistently above UK and global averages, many of our graduating students are offered places at world leading universities, however, attainment is only part of the story. In preparing our students with the contemporary skills, attributes and morals needed for their fast-changing, globally connected and uncertain futures, our students leave us as ethically informed global citizens, and future leaders of the world.
This reputation was confirmed in our latest ADEK Inspection, when the Al Yasmina Academy was awarded ‘Outstanding’ in all six performance standards.
Mrs Kathryn Head brings over 28 years of educational experience to West Yas Academy, including fourteen years in leadership positions. She has a Bachelor of Education qualifying her to teach from KG - Year 10, with her Post Graduate studies in Educational Leadership and Administration. Mrs Head also recently completed a MIT Course, 'Launching Innovation into Schools', completing a cycle of study and experimentation as a change leader in instructional improvement. Before moving to the UAE, Mrs Head worked in both Asia and Australia and has experience in US, UK, IB, Australian and International Curriculum.
Furthermore, Mrs Head has extensive experience in curriculum development, specialising in the Inquiry-based approach. With her extensive skill set in curriculum and leadership, she has had the privilege of training and upskilling teachers and mentoring leaders. Mrs Head promotes learning through creative thinking skills and values innovation, promoting 21st Century learning skills to enhance teaching and learning. Mrs Head is passionate, dynamic and embraces international mindedness, valuing diversity while embracing the UAE culture in which she lives.
Mr. Nelson brings more than eleven years of educational and leadership experience, with over six years within the Middle East. He maintains a Master of Arts qualification in Educational Leadership, accompanied with a plethora of pedagogical expertise, blended across pastoral and curriculum leadership positions. Furthermore, he has taught and led curriculums across the US, GCSE, BTEC, and IB frameworks throughout his career to date.
Initially trained and qualified as a teacher in the United Kingdom, Mr. Nelson taught Physical Education in various educational settings. After relocating to Dubai in 2015, he was appointed Head of Boys; Physical Education at a large multi-cultural international school. During this time, his career progressed to becoming a Head of House, leading pastoral initiatives to heighten students support and wellbeing within the school.
In 2019, Mr. Nelson joined West Yas Academy as the Dean of Students, leading change in student wellbeing and behavior for learning reforms. He is passionate about developing students holistically, equipping them with the skills required for students to flourish within an ever changing global society. As Head of Secondary, he is passionate about driving improvements at West Yas Academy, with the relentless energy to work in partnership with parents, staff, and the school community to ensure a high-quality education is made available to every child at West Yas Academy.