Some Dubai parents spend up to Dh12,000 per term on co-curricular activities

These activities are pursued both for professional and recreational reasons


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 27 May 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 27 May 2024, 10:15 PM

Despite the concerns about rising school fees, parents in Dubai are willing to incur additional expenses on co-curricular activities (CCAs or ECAs). Some parents pay as much as Dh12,000 per term for their children’s co-curricular activities (CCAs).

While tuition fees may be perceived as a financial burden, parents in Dubai are willing to invest whatever it takes on ECAs, recognising the significant role these activities play in their children's education and development.

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Khaleej Times reached out to a cross-section of parents in Dubai who reiterated that these activities enhance cognitive abilities, improve concentration, and teach discipline, which can even translate into better grades and academic achievement.

The expenses vary based on whether children engage in these activities professionally or recreationally.

Professional co-curricular activity

UAE citizen Malak AlFarsi is steadfast in helping her 13-year-old daughter Lamia Tariq Malallah reach the highest level in rhythmic gymnastics — the Youth Olympics.

“Every day after school, Lamia trains for four hours. She should be doing at least four to six hours, actually,” said her mother, Malak. “I pick her up from school, and she is training from 4.30pm till 8.30pm or 8.45pm. She falls asleep in the car on our way home, and then at 6am, she wakes up and goes to school,” said AlFarsi.

Malak AlFarsi's daughter Lamia. Photo: Supplied
Malak AlFarsi's daughter Lamia. Photo: Supplied

Lamia started her journey at the age of five. Most recently, she bagged the gold medal at the Gymnastika Solo Cup in Dubai — some of the best gymnasts from Europe, with Russia and Belarus sending their national teams.

Sharing Lamia’s schedule, Malak added, “On Saturdays, she trains five hours from 10.30am to 3.30pm. On Sundays, she has online training conducted by Russian trainers. When looking at professional athletes, your form has to be different. Rhythmic gymnastics is a very specialised sport.”

CCAs are expensive so consistent focus on one activity is required.

“Rhythmic gymnastics is a very expensive sport as compared to other sports. You are charged hourly, and you are charged a block term fee. Per term, a parent could spend Dh10,000-12,000 for three to four months. These are competitive sports, not recreational,” added AlFarsi.

“Whereas, if it is recreational, the fee is much cheaper. If one is training twice or thrice a week, then it will cost around Dh4,500 per term,” she said.

The Emirati mother also emphasised that parents should identify what their child is interested in and focus accordingly. She said if parents fail to do so, they spend a lot of money on various activities with the child, eventually losing interest after a couple of terms, and the money is wasted.

“My younger daughter Leanne, who is 10, does piano three times a week, and per hour it costs around Dh200-250. She is not really interested in gymnastics. She is also more academically inclined. I've enrolled her in online coding classes with an instructor based out of India. I spend around Dh80 per hour on that. Therefore, I feel children benefit more from consistent focus on one activity. Otherwise, there's a risk of losing interest and wasting resources,” AlFarsi said.

Recreational co-curricular activity

Similarly, Indian expatriate Neha Bhagwat's two school-aged children are also involved in different co-curricular activities.

Abir, her elder son, currently in Year 7, participates in weekly tennis sessions and art lessons. Sahir, her younger son in Year 3, is actively engaged in football training, attending three sessions per week.

Neha Bhagwat’s son - Sahir. Photo: Supplied
Neha Bhagwat’s son - Sahir. Photo: Supplied

Bhagwat said, “Co-curricular activities play a significant role in the holistic development of children, These activities help students develop a range of skills that are not typically covered in the classroom, such as leadership, teamwork, time management, and problem-solving. I spend Dh10,000 annually on their CCAs. It’s Dh5,000 for each of them. But this does not include summer classes, as the term for these CCAs end with the start of the summer and winter breaks. So, holiday camps (expenditures) are separate.”

She emphasised that due to their busy work schedules during the week, both she and her husband have arranged for a driver to handle transportation in the evenings while they're at the work.

This driver ensures that their children are safely dropped off and picked up from their extracurricular activities according to their schedules. "The driver charges another Dh6,000 cumulatively for a year. Overall all these activities and transportation turn out to be pretty expensive," added the Indian expat.

Extracurricular activities can also be done during school hours for an additional fee. Natalia Miranda, American expat in Dubai, says her son does ECAs.

Natalia Miranda’s son. Photo: Supplied
Natalia Miranda’s son. Photo: Supplied

However, unlike others, he partakes in school ECAs offered to parents for an additional fee.

“My son goes to Arcadia School and learns ukulele (musical instrument) twice during school time. This costs us around Dh1,000 extra per term, above the tuition fees. The class is only 30 minutes, and these classes are honestly expensive. With that said, there are many different types of activities for any child here. It’s all done by professionally trained instructors,” said Miranda.


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