RIYADH: Downe House, Riyadh’s first British international school for girls, opened on Thursday with a promise to inspire a generation of young Saudi women to take their place on the national and world stage.
The school, one of the most highly regarded for female students in Britain, said that its Riyadh branch will offer a global curriculum utilizing the latest education advances in the developed world.
Downe House UK Principal Emma McKendrick, who attended the school’s opening ceremony, said: “This is one of the most exciting opportunities to create a rich school to support the development of young women in Saudi Arabia, who, I hope, will go on to play a significant part in society and global society.”
She told Arab News that the school will seek to “foster cognitive and intellectual curiosity, nurture talents and interests outside the classroom, open up to cultures and respect others.”
The opening comes as part of a Royal Commission for Riyadh City program to bring international teaching institutions to the capital. A major project led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to attract global education organizations to the Kingdom, in partnership with the ministries of education and investment.
Downe House School has over a 100 years of experience, and focuses on the academic excellence and well-being of female students, developing their abilities and self-confidence in order to contribute to the development of their local and global community.
Neil Crompton, British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said that the opening of a Downe House School branch in the Kingdom is an affirmation of the strong historic relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia, as well as a model for strengthening both countries’ links in the education sector.
“I think having the school here is terrific news (and shows) that the relationship is flourishing between the two kingdoms and has a lot of commitment by both governments,” Crompton told Arab News.
“Education is very important and, historically, many Saudis come to the UK to study. But I think it’s nice to have the opportunity here, as in the past year four British schools were opened in Riyadh. And Downe House is distinguished for its education as it will be the first independent British girls’ school to open its doors in Saudi Arabia, and we are proud to support this journey,” he said.
Downe House Riyadh offers a modern campus, with facilities including libraries, open halls, technical and scientific laboratories, a music studio, a theater that can accommodate 560 people, a major sports academy, and an indoor swimming pool designed by leading Saudi female architects.
Faisal Al-Muammar, chairman of Downe House Riyadh, expressed his gratitude to the partners in RCRC, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Investment, and the Ministry of Human Resources for their support and vision to attract the British school to Saudi Arabia.
“Downe House Riyadh focuses on motivating and inspiring female students. It will work to develop personal skills, research skills, and knowledge to enhance individual talents and interests and instil a culture of participation and respect for others beyond the limits of academic achievement,” he said.