Update on July 3, 2015: ACS Doha and its landlord have since signed a new lease for the school that runs until June 2019.
The ACS Doha International School community has been cautiously celebrating this week after the school announced that it would remain open for at least another academic year.
Yesterday, officials told parents and students that the school’s landlord had offered an extension on ACS’s building in Al Gharafa, which caters to nearly 1,000 students and 150 staff of 60 nationalities.
In a letter sent to parents and guardians, the Head of School Steve Calland-Scoble and Chairman David Thomas said the school would now be open until at least June 2016:
“We are very pleased to confirm that our landlord has offered an extension to the current lease of our premises at Gharrafa. Initial terms have been presented to ACS for the extended lease, which we are currently finalizing with our landlord.
We continue to plan for the next academic year as normal.”
The school is still in final negotiations over the extension of the lease, and is believed to be considering a “multiple-year offer” from Ezdan Holding Group.
Last month, ACS warned parents, teachers and pupils that it was in “protracted” negotiations with Ezdan over the renewal of its lease, and many feared that the school could close after June, leaving hundreds of children without a school place.
A petition to save the school was signed by more than 600 parents and members of the school community, and delivered to the Supreme Education Council (SEC) and Ezdan earlier this month.
Qatari mother-of-three Hasna Nada was one of the parents who set up the petition. She previously told Doha News that the aim was to turn some of the initial anger of parents into positive action, in a bid to secure the future of the school.
Speaking today about the latest news, Nada said, “We are all very, very relieved. It is amazing news.” She continued:
“This result shows the power of the community. Everyone has come together to support the school and we are all celebrating. We are very grateful to parents, to the SEC and to Ezdan for their decision. They heard our voices.”
Aliya Qutub, an American expat who has three children at the school and who was a co-founder of the petition, added: “It is impressive how, in this society, grassroots movements can have influence in decisions like this. It shows that, in this educational landscape, it is critical to have this kind of support from the community.”
Another parent, who has two children attending ACS, told Doha News that she was relieved, but wondered if this might be a “stay of execution.”
“We have spent the last two months very anxious, wondering what we will do. Some parents have already secured places in other schools. Others have made up their minds to go back home.
We are still considering whether to leave or stay. We didn’t want to leave, but felt we had no choice, without school places for our children.”
She added that the experience could be “very damaging for Qatar.”
“No one will come to work here if they can’t get their children into schools,” she said.
ACS has plans for a new, purpose-built campus on another site, which will cater to more than 2,000 students. However, construction has not yet started and there is no firm timeline, so it would be several years before the building became operational.
Meanwhile, the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents the private business sector, has intervened to save other schools whose landlords have been trying to impose massive rent increases, the Peninsula reports.
The chamber’s legal committee is collecting complaints from schools that say their landlords are attempting to increase rents on their buildings by more than the 5 percent permitted by law.
The committee is then appealing to the Central Rent Dispute Settlement Committee of the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP/Baladiya) to examine the disputes.
As Qatar’s population continues to grow, demand for school places has outpaced supply, particularly for private institutions, where many expats choose enroll their children.
However, the most sought-after international schools have waiting lists of up to several years.
The public works authority Ashghal announced earlier this week that 33 new schools and kindergartens were under construction and would be ready to open in September this year, while another 17 would be ready for September 2016.
It is not known how many of these schools will be independent schools or privately run.
“so it would be several years before the building became operational.”
It’s called subjunctive. It looks like the simple past, but it’s not.
Doesn’t sound right, whatever it’s called. I would choose something like..
“so it would be several years before the building would be operational.”
The law permits the owners of properties that house private schools to raise rents by only five percent annually, but landlords who have been flouting the rules and raising rents as they wish and by as much as 30 to 50 percent at times without any logic or reason just does not make sense. In short the real estate market is not driven by market forces out here but more by greed and and by people trying to make as much as they can in a short time as possible
Ezdan Net Profit Jumps 27 Percent
I can not imagine what those parents are going through.
You can be sure that many are looking for other, more secure schools.
““No one will come to work here if they can’t get their children into schools,” she said.”
Sorry this is nonsense. There will always be people who are single, divorced, or who are simply intelligent enough to manage such a situation. The question is: why on Earth are you in Qatar? Qatar hired your husband to do the job, not the whole family. Why don’t you stay in your country, keep your job and take care of your kids? Why are you traumatizing your young kids with a new and possibly painful experience far from their country, friends and relatives? Obviously it is not the best option to be separated from one’s husband, but hey, we are in the 21st century! There is Internet, there are phones, and there are direct flights to pretty much everywhere from here. Your partner can come and see you every now and then, and in the summer break you can bring your kids and spend few months here. This is expat life you know? And if you want to move from your meager 2500 euros/pounds per month at home to a tax-free 30k riyals per month, well you have to make a compromise. At the end of the day, it is a temporary situation (2, 3 or may be 5 years maximum) and after few years your husband will be home.
So all this school drama is in part stirred by people who are not supposed to be here in the first place 🙁
Do you have a family? You sound like you do not.
sorry, every family has their own preference. If this country can not facilitate me and my family, sorry, I have another choice in other part of the world that I can choose. as simple as that
Yes. We agree on this. Qatar is not forcing you to come, and you cannot blame it for not offering you schooling, nurseries, parks and all other facilities for your wife and kids. They are not meant to be here in the first place.
My goodness you can talk rubbish. Not meant to be here…where do you get that from?
apparently you don’t seem to like them much
There are priorities and compromises in life.
Yes, and one of the compromises is being in Qatar – what makes it palatable is having the family.
Nobody forced you to leave your amazing country to come and live and in a hardly-palatable country. Why are you guys talking like you are doing Qatar a favor by being here?
What benefit is your presence? Hmmmm? Do contribute anything, or just drain resources?
Kind of confused it seems to me. People are not hired by ‘Qatar’, they are hired by companies, most of which are foreign, and the companies make certain promises about the availability of schooling that are not kept? 30K?? Ha! Most people I know are on about 14k a month.
There is no confusion there. I used Qatar in general to refer to Qatar companies/employers/whatever. Companies offer contracts, but the Qatari government provides parks, schools, and all the rest.
And for those who are on a 14k, they most probably get free accommodation. Eventually, it is still much better than what they get back home, that is why they come. Also, those are mostly single.
Hmmm, we’ll just have to agree that we work and socialise in different circles and different levels of benefits. As for mostly single? Nope.
We’ll disagree on the you’re idea that “they’re not supposed to be here in the first place”. If a Qatar company recruits me with the understanding that the family goes along and that there are facilities available for that family, then it is the company’s job to work with the government to do that.
That was not the point anyway. The point is to say, it does not make sense for local companies and Qatar as a country in general, to end up with four or five dependents with every expat hired. Being able to bring wife and kids here is a luxury not a necessity, and if some expats are not happy with the education/healthcare/housing levels here, then it is their fault to come here in the first place.
Education, health care, security are basic right in this century. What’s the point of making money if you cannot enjoy it woth your family. Quality of life os an essential for employees productivity as well.
And yes there are people trying hard to come here but if you notice how much they last without their families you will know that it is not even efficient economically. Professionals are leaving mainly due to this.
Qatar is working on improving this but it will take sometime.
People are not supposed to live here permanently. They are supposed to come, make a decent amount of money for 2 or 3 years, then leave. If you have plans to settle here for a decade, then obviously it does not make much sense to be separated from your family all that time. In that case you have to accept the compromise and adapt yourself to the healthcare/education standards here, rather than complain day and night about it 🙂
Hmmm, someone forgot to tell the authorities enforcing Qatar’s policies what you have decided.
Many spouses work. Yes, does that surprise you? From your posts I would guess that you find the idea of a working spouse very strange.
I am not talking about working spouses simply because in their situation the issue of separation does not exist. They work and live here with their husbands. I am starting to think you are intellectually challenged.
Even though I think you’re probably trolling (bring the kids here for summer break? Right!), I’ll bite. Who are the people who are “not meant to be here in the first place”? All of the non-Qatari men, women and children who are accompanying someone with a job? Qataris make up a little over 5 percent of the employed population, so expats are necessary at all levels of the workforce. Within the category of expats who place heavy weight on “decent schools” when they make a decision to come here or not are those senior executives with the experience needed to manage the mega projects (rail, hospitals, stadia, real estate development, for example) that are a part of Qatar’s ambitious 2030 vision, not to mention the 2022 WC. These people will not come here if they can’t get their kids into reputable international schools. They won’t come without their families. The expat life they are used to includes family time and support! If they haven’t been expats before, they’re not going to start off with a situation that doesn’t allow them to bring their families along. The salaries are not attractive enough to entice them under those conditions, especially given a more robust employment market around the world. Sure, there will always be people who are single, childless, divorced or desperate enough to take a job here without their families, but that limits the pool of highly qualified people quite a bit.
It is important that you understand that bringing all your family here is a privilege not a right. Companies hire an employee and end up with a group of 4 or 5 people with them. This is not sustainable for Qatar, and this is what is creating congestion issues. Dependents can stay at home and visit from time to time. It is also 2015 and phone calls and internet are cheap and ubiquitous. It is not like you are going to die not seeing your wife and kids for few months. Eventually, this is expat life and your family will be well off enjoying the high standards of education, healthcare and life at home, rather than complaining about everything here. And please, don’t ever think you are indispensable! No, there are always people who are better than you and willing to move.
Um, it’s important that you understand that being here as a family, or not, is a choice.What is not sustainable for Qatar is achieving even a fraction of what it proposes without a highly qualified group of expats leading the way, for now.
If I couldn’t have my family here together, happily, I would choose not to be here. It just wouldn’t be worth it to be here without them. (You must have a very different relationship with your spouse and kids than I do with mine as my needs go beyond phone calls and quarterly in-person visits.)
The type of professionals Qatar needs to achieve (successfully!) its 2030 Vision will not choose to be here without their families, if they have families. In many cases they are moving here from another expat gig in another country, following the major projects around the world, moving from one international school to another, deciding to take a gig or not based on what the conditions will be like for them and for their families. The more senior and experienced they are, the more choice they have. Their families are not at “home” somewhere where they can or want to stay. Also, many accompanying spouses are contributing members of the workforce here. Two for one, if you will, for the state of Qatar.
It is odd that talk about spouses and families as burden, yet you as a trailing spouse and non-productive member of society are taking full advantage of that situation.
Your culture is different to western culture. For us, we simply wouldn’t come if we couldn’t have our families. Already the government has said that it’s having difficulty recruiting skilled people to finish infrastructure project on time. In fact your post reminds me of what I dislike about living here. I will be going home fairly soon so don’t bother telling me if I don’t like it I can leave…I’m ahead of you on that.
It has nothing to do with culture. I am actually Muslim and family values in Islam are extremely important, so I am not waiting for a non-Muslim Westerner to teach me anything about family life and values. I am talking about the situation in Qatar and how families can cope with it. Qatar is not Singapore and expats are here on temporary assignments but not to relocate for good and spend years or decades here or even to get the nationality as is the case elsewhere. Some visas provided here are even limited to the project and do not allow their holders to bring their families as residents. This is what many of you here fail to understand.
Really Yacine? I am shocked at your heartless crappy attitude to this whole situation…. obviously you don’t have a partner here with children and if you do, then you are doing quite ok – otherwise you wouldn’t voice this stupid opinion. Of course lots of men don’t want to be here on their own fending for themselves without the company of their wives and children… I suppose that is one of the major differences in our culture… we westerners or at least most of us enjoy our spouses sharing our lives and vice versa! Not like the Arabian way where the man is everything and the woman is just a birthing machine and semi-slave in some cases…
and her comment about “no one will come to work here” etc is RIGHT!
It never ceases to amaze me how people just don’t see the writing on the wall. It’s all about word of mouth and if enough people become disenchanted with Doha and they go home – you can bet your bottom dollar they will spread the word to anyone who will listen not to come here because of these unsuitable family conditions as well as many other difficulties in daily life we all face here – and in time less and less professional people that, after all, are giving this country the ability to grow in the first place – will come. Work will get held up. Construction will cost more. Deadlines won’t be met. Companies will be unable to make any money and they too will leave.. end of story.. and Qatar will have a huge setback like Dubai’s if it all gets bad enough. It is a grim picture indeed.
It’s the circle of life Yacine.
What goes around, comes around and you reap what you sow – I hope Qatar will be ready.
Very racist comment regarding “Arabian” women and their role and worth in society/families. I very much resent this comment as an Arab woman who enjoys a great deal of respect on many levels in this society. And my I point out that family values and connectedness are strong values in this and many other eastern cultures. Your words are hurtful and to be honest it sickens me that people with that level of disrespect and distaste for our culture and people come to live amongst us.
My sincerest apologies Arabianwoman. My intention was not in any way to denigrate the role of the Arabian wife but I used that statement merely to try to point out the difference in our cultures to Yacine when he was misguidedly saying that our families were not a welcome part of the parcel of life here in Doha and that it was a privilege to be here – I obviously didn’t do that very well.
I have lived in Doha for almost five years and those that know me know that I actually do have the deepest respect not only for Qatari culture but also for humans of any culture, creed or colour. I am sorry that you have taken my statements this way.
I don’t mean to sound heartless but this happens time and time again ….and in the end….an agreement is made….. Is this really news? I live in Beach Tower, managed by an incometant DTZ and owned by a greedy Dubai person who outlays the bare minimum while the tower descends into the bare minimum, no security, facilities worse than then when it opened but rents up each year. It’s the law of the land, no surprise to anyone, if we don’t like it we can go home..as the saying goes. In the end I renew, they need me and I need them, we are both nasty.