Dubai school owner flees with students' fees

Students and parents caught off guard days before start of school year

An Australian owner of a well-known school for children with special needs in Dubai fled the emirate with more than Dh1 million in tuition fees, leaving the families of the pupils in shock just days before the start of the new school year.

Student parents said they had received text messages and emails from a British institute in Bur Dubai telling them it would not reopen for the new school year after its Australian owner fled the country.

“They said the owner fled with all the fees paid by the pupils over the past few weeks for the new school year…the fees amount to more than Dh1 million,” the Dubai-based Arabic language daily Emirat Alyoum said.

It quoted a student’s father, identified as Abu Mohammed, as saying: ”The escape of the school owner with the fees paid by the pupils caused shock and confusion to the pupils’ families as the new school year has almost started and it is not possible for us now to transfer our children to a new school as such specialized schools are few and most of them should be full by now.”

He said most parents had reported the school owner to Bur Dubai police but added no one expects a quick solution to the problem.

An Emirati agent for the school's services, identified as HM, confirmed the school owner had fled the UAE with the money.

“The owner sent me an email saying he had fled because he was heavily indebted and that he was wanted in many court cases in financial disputes, including one filed by his wife,” he said. “He told me that he owes large sums to banks and that he decided to disappear to escape trouble.”

The agent told the paper that he himself was a victim and that he was working with the police and the ministries of labour and social  affairs to reach a settlement that will satisfy all parties.

Emirat Alyoum said the school has 30 teachers and 53 special needs pupils, who pay Dh80,000 each in annual school fees. Many of them have already made advance payments of more than Dh20,000 for the new school year.

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