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American International School Abu Dhabi

American International School Abu Dhabi

American International School Abu Dhabi was established to provide the local and expatriate residents of Abu Dhabi with a high quality American education, based on American standards, as well as an international curriculum via the IB. The school is currently rated B4 by Abu Dhabi’s education regulator, which signifies a satisfactory school, which is improving.

The school is owned by Educational Services Overseas Limited (ESOL) and is the group’s oldest in the UAE, opening almost 20 years ago, in 1995 with 519 students. By 1998 there were 750 students and in 2006, enrollment jumped to 1100. Today, the school has over 1200 students from 77 nationalities from Pre-K to 12th Grade (aged 3 to 19). One in three students is Emirati.

According to parents we have spoken to the levels of commitment of students varies considerably.

The campus accommodates two schools. The Elementary School serves 665 students and the High School, which serves 602. The school is coeducational in elementary and gender-segregated in secondary.

AISA received its first accreditation in October 1997 from the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), and in January 2010 was accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS). It was, according to AISA, the first school to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma in Abu Dhabi and later became the first school in Abu Dhabi to be authorized to offer the IB Primary Years Program (PYP).

The school operates three routes for students as they work towards achieving the High School Diploma(s).

  • The first option is a regular, American High School Diploma. The school’s curriculum is based on the Virginia Standards of Learning. Students are able to explore a number of academic areas of learning, while also focusing on specific subjects of interest.  At the end of 4 years, students receive an American High School Diploma.
  • For its more “dedicated students”, the school offers the international IB Diploma. The school is in its 7th year of running the programme. According to the IB web site, in the last examination session, students completed the following exams: Arabic B HL, Arabic B SL, Biology HL, Biology SL, Bus.& Man. HL, Bus.& Man. SL, Chemistry HL, Chemistry SL, Economics HL, Economics SL, English A: Literature HL, English A: Literature SL, French Ab. SL, French B HL, French B SL, History HL, History SL, Math.Studies SL, Mathematics HL, Mathematics SL, Physics HL, Physics SL, Spanish Ab. SL, Spanish B HL, Spanish B SL, Theory Knowl. TK and Visual Arts HL.
  • A third option allows students in the regular High School program to enroll in International Baccalaureate Certificate classes in specific subjects, thereby complimenting their regular High School classes.

The school does not publish details of its academic results so it not evident how successful the school is in terms of producing graduates with acceptable academic grades/qualifications. However, an increasing number of students in Grades 11 and 12 follow the IB – arguably the most challenging and academic curriculum of offer.

The school does provide some information on university destinations in the news on its web site. According to the school AISA “has more students accepted at NYU-AD than any other school in the world”. Other destinations for this year’s senior students include NYU, New York City, Boston University, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, London University (Kings College, Queen Mary College, Royal Holloway College), Manchester University (UK), McGill, University of British Columbia, Carleton, McMaster and the University of Toronto.


AIS offers a range of after curricula activities, and claims to have “one of the strongest high school competitive sports programs in the region” with teams competing in basketball, soccer, volleyball and track and field. The school also emphasis its drama productions at high, middle and elementary levels as well as musical performances. The school also runs an impressive range of clubs, operating at elementary, middle and senior levels.

School facilities include a library, art rooms, computer labs, medium sized swimming pool and six science labs. AISA also has gymnasiums, outdoor basketball courts and an adjoining soccer field.

The American International School in Abu Dhabi is a member of the Educational Services Overseas Limited (ESOL) group of schools. ESOL provides management services to the school.

The school is located in the Educational Zone, approximately 20 kilometers outside the city center of Abu Dhabi city.

Teachers are said to be relatively content, but there is a reasonably high turnover of staff, with a significant percentage of teachers staying at the school for two years or less according to feedback to WSA. The main grumbles concern accommodation and pay, common themes for teachers, but particularly so in Abu Dhabi where housing remains something of an issue. Note: the school has over the last two to three years employed senior leaders across the school, who are making an impact – both to academic performance, but also more generally to the running of the school.

Fees for the school are mid-range for a US style school in Abu Dhabi. For the 2013/14 academic year they are: KG 1: 29,078 AED, KG 2: 30,399, Grades (1-4): 40,965, Grades (5-8):44,928, Grades (9-12):52,852.

Note: Other schools owned by the ESOL group in the UAE include The Universal American School in Dubai, Deira International School, Dubai, and Inspire Children’s Nursery.


Inspection Reports

ADEC Inspection Report, American International School, 2013





If you are the owner of the school and note any factual inaccuracies, or would like to update any information, please do not hesitate to contact us at editor@edu2021.com. You can also use the School Profile survey to provide us your latest information.


Update on June 26, 2015 | Reviewed by David on June 30, 2012


Leave A Reply
  1. Leila says
    October 3, 2014, 11:12 pm

    This school might be one of the better ones, but if you have the chance, ACS and GEMS are much better schools, and I’d recommend people look there instead of at this school. As mentioned in other comments, the staff and admin can be very cold and arrogant, which is ironic, as they aren’t even in the top 3 of American schools in AD!

    Funny enough, initially, this was our first choice and we tried to get our 3 kids into here, but were so turned off by the process that even though are kids were accepted here, we also had acceptances from ACS. Thank God we sent our kids there instead.

    • Jones says
      November 17, 2015, 11:12 am

      ‘Better’ is a subjective term. Do you mean better facilities, which is true; or a better academic program, which is not true. Perhaps you mean better because the other schools have much higher fees. AISA’s parents agree that, with its excellent academic program, AISA is the best value for money in town.

  2. Enas says
    September 26, 2013, 2:20 pm

    I share with you your comment
    Respect and being polite are major concerns for us as parents. As I went through lots of schools applications for my sons, I have noticed that some schools don’t care about person-person communication as they are quit busy school. Nevertheless this will build A school reputation so one day it will get back to them.
    Additionally, I share the same experience regarding Raha school, they provide very welcoming environment and answer all your question and concerns. Another good schools in this respect is GEMS American, ACS and Almuna.
    Sure there are much more schools but these were among what I have visited.

  3. Akram says
    April 4, 2013, 2:26 pm

    We have our girl in Grade 1, in a british school in Dubai, since I got a job in AbuDhabi, we’re looking at moving to Abu Dhabi for the year 2013/14, thus we considered AISA based on a relative’s recommendation.

    AISA has very old facilities, and is quite tight, nonetheless we were willing to give it a try. Our daughter is in the top 10% of her class, speaks english and arabic fluently, and has received very positive feedback from her current class teacher, which is why were extremely hurt, shocked and upset with the assessment and admission process of this school.

    Upon applying, we were informed that our daughter shouldn’t apply to grade two because of her young age, despite that she’s an A student in her current school in grade one, but her application could be considered for grade one, and so we submitted the application for grade two, and this is what happened.

    1. On a Thursday afternoon, we got a call from an admission employee informing us to arrive at 10am on Sunday for her assessment, and that there is no room for rescheduling, no details were provided as to the nature of the assessment or if she should bring any specific papers, so we managed to rush into getting her excused to be able to attend this assessment,
    2. Upon arriving to the school, she was lead into a classroom with other kids, given a paper with math questions, with no explanation, welcome or any kind of understanding that she’s a five year old after all.
    3. The papers were collected after the duration the examiner saw as enough (basically after another 7 years old boy finished his paper), and we were told to wait for the result,
    4. One week later and we get an email that is so cold that the monitor almost froze from its inappropriate, distant, and formal tone. The letter was written in what seems like using a job application rejection template, as it mimicked the same format and mysterious undertones of “rejection” used by companies. Long story short, they rejected our daughter without mentioning the reasons.
    5. Our relative was upset as well so she visited the school and was informed that our daughter was rejected because she did poorly in the math exam. However, they could do us a favor by “considering” her for grade 1 instead of two.
    6. And all behold, we receive the same “killer” letter we got earlier rejecting her for Grade 1 as well.

    While many parents will probably consider their kid the brightest, prettiest, and most formidable of all kids in the world, we do not ask that schools treat them as we might do, but to respect our feelings of love for our children and not bash them with such cold, hard letters which are based on unfair assessment or other considerations. We expect schools to treat us and our kids with respect, and that is one thing in our opinion AISA has failed miserably at.

    Our kid was assessed later by Raha International School and was praised by the assessor as a great candidate for grade 2 despite her young age, and a definite joiner for grade 1, we’re more than happy with Raha School, not because they told us what we liked to hear, rather because they were very polite and flexible over the phone, they gave us plenty of time and respect while explaining their school’s vision, and facilities. They provided us a comprehensive assessment of creative abilities, language schools, comprehension, language and personal skills.

    I’m personally very happy she was not accepted in AISA, and hope they look into their assessment and communication procedures, not only to keep students, but to live up to the values educational institutions should instill in children – beginning with respect!


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