Foundation and development of the German International School Dubai

Our history over the years

In view of the rapid growth and construction boom in Dubai, the German International School Sharjah (DISS) is opening a branch in Dubai for the 04/05 school year. The Al Mawakeb School in Al Barsha provides generous premises. In December 2004, the Ruling House of Dubai donates a plot of land in Academic City to the school.

In 2005, the branch office in Dubai recorded steady growth. This not only reflects the increasing number of students, but also the clear commitment to establishing itself in Dubai's up-and-coming educational landscape. The course has been set for a promising school history.

Due to the increasing demand for kindergarten places, the kindergarten moves to a villa in Jumeirah in early 2006. Efforts and plans of the German School Sharjah/Dubai Branch to build on the property in Academic City encounter many obstacles. On the one hand, there is a lack of financial security, and on the other, there is resistance from parents to abandon the Sharjah site.

In August 2007, the Dubai branch moved to Academic City into the premises of the Dubai English Speaking College (DESC). The number of students, including kindergarten, is now 140. There are various problems that need to be solved: The Dubai branch is growing disproportionately and now has almost as many students as the "mother house" in Sharjah. However, both locations are supervised by only one principal and one administrative manager, which overtaxes the personnel resources. Furthermore, no decision has yet been made about a possible new building on the site in Academic City.

Separating the schools in Sharjah and Dubai seems like a reasonable solution. There are many differences. For example, schools of almost the same size are located in two emirates with different legislation.

Mainly through the mediation of the then Consul General Johann Cohausz in Dubai, there is a meeting on 18.02.2008 with the Government Director Kobler from Germany, the Association Board of the German School Sharjah / Dubai branch and representatives of the German business community. At the meeting the idea for the foundation of the school association of an own German school in Dubai is born and approved in principle by the representative from Germany. Support from Germany is promised. Government Director Kobler, however, makes it clear that the initiative for founding a German school in Dubai must come from the parents in Dubai themselves.

In the presence of Consul General Johann Cohausz the following persons founded the School Association of the German International School Dubai DISD on 01.03.2008: Gabriele Paukens, Werner Kletzka, Martin van Almsick, Heike Watts, Karen Kreutz, Katarina Geenen, Dagmar Abdelatif, Stephan Rosenthal, Tanya Bernthaler, Peter Göpfrich, Alexander Schütz and Andrea Steinhorst.

The foundation stone for an independent German school in Dubai has been laid.

On the part of the German responsible authorities, the Federal Office of Administration (BVA), the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) and the German Foreign Office, as well as with great help from the German Consulate General in Dubai, labor-intensive months are now beginning. It has to be ensured that the DISD can start independently in the school year 2008/2009 and thus detached from the German International School Sharjah.

In May 2008, the number of students in grades 1 to 4 had already grown to 25 students per grade, thus reaching the division limit. The 5th grade, which was established in the 2008/2009 school year, already has 18 enrollments. The kindergarten has reached its spatial limit with 60 children. A total of 160 students now attend the German school in Dubai. (For comparison, the number of students in Sharjah is 190).

In June 2008, a two-day meeting takes place in Dubai between representatives of the association's board with Rüdiger Hocke, the responsible administrator at the ZfA. All necessary contracts for the independence of the DISD are signed. Germany promised to send a principal to Dubai for the school year 2008/2009. This means the independent financial and personnel support of the DISD by the Federal Republic of Germany. The German International School Dubai can now officially call itself a German School Abroad.

Principal Hubert Brinks takes up his post as head of DISD in August 2008. By November 2008, the school, including kindergarten, has already grown to 220 students.

In December 2008, the DISD receives official notification from the ZfA that it is authorized to conduct the DIA (Deutsches Internationales Abitur) in 2012. As a result, the Board of Directors decides to continue the secondary level I with grades 6-10 in the school year 2009/2010.

The planned new building project in Academic City is put on hold for the time being as the costs appear to be too high. This forces the school to look for an alternative school building that can cope with the expected influx of around 300 student students.

On 18.08.2009, the move to the new school building in Al Quoz is completed, marking a significant step in the school's development. This is now the stage for the growing student body.

In May 2010, DISD reaches a milestone: the first successful completion of the examinations in years 9 and 10 for the Hauptschulabschluss and Mittlere Reife. Proof of the quality of education provided at the young school and a reason to celebrate for student, school staff and parents alike.

In August 2010, Thomas Dietrich takes up his post as the new principal of DISD, and the school enters an exciting phase under his leadership. Pupil numbers continue their upward trend. In the '10/11 school year, 377 student students are already attending DISD. The rented school building reaches the limits of its capacity faster than anyone had expected.

The school management and the International School Association are forced to examine creative alternatives: Should the existing building be extended, moved to a larger one or even a new building considered? The decision is imminent, and with it the next exciting development in the history of DISD.


In September 2011, the general meeting of the German Schools Abroad Association gives the green light to commission a feasibility study for the planned new building in Academic City. The results of the study presented in March 2012 are convincing. The new building is approved.

Another highlight of the '11/12 school year: the 15 graduates of DISD's first Abitur class pass the German International Abitur (DIA) exam, which is a reason to celebrate not only for them, but also for the entire school community.

In August 2013, Gert Blach takes up the post of principal at DISD. The number of pupils has now reached an impressive 565.

On 19.12.2013, the new construction financing with the Sharaf Group is formally agreed at the German Consulate General in Dubai.

Construction work on the site in Academic City will begin in August 2014. The official laying of the foundation stone, attended by representatives of the Consulate General, the KHDA, the Sharaf Group and all partners involved in the construction, will take place on 19.11.2014.

Construction is progressing rapidly and the plan to open the school in Academic City in September 2015 is successfully implemented. The school then moves into its brand new building during the summer vacations.

On 6 September 2015, 675 student students start the new school year in the new DISD building full of anticipation. The official opening on 16.04.2016 attracts high-profile guests, including Ambassador Dr. Eckhard Lübkemeier, KHDA CEO Dr. Al Karam and Major General Sharafuddin Sharaf from the Sharaf Group.

In his speech, Ambassador Lübkemeier emphasized the special nature of the inauguration of a new German school in his career. He congratulated everyone on the successful new building and thanked the supporters, including HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the land, the Sharaf Group as investor and the KHDA for their support.

Principal Gert Blach emphasizes his pleasure as principal of the new school and promises to further consolidate the good reputation of "German Education" in the UAE. The pride in the new modern facility is also palpable among student and parents, and the opening marked a significant step in the history of DISD.

Helmut Jolk is the new principal from August 2017. Under his leadership at Head of , the focus is shifting to the digitalization of schools and will be intensified in the 2018/19 school year. At this point, all classrooms are already equipped with smartboards - a significant step towards modern education.

In January 2019 , a pioneering pilot project was launched: the former 4a of the DISD was equipped with iPads for six weeks. These tablets are actively used for research, creating short films and small research projects. The school invests in a variety of applications that teachers and student can use free of charge in lessons and for independent learning. The advanced applications not only make it easier for teachers to organize everyday school life, but also strengthen the flow of information within the entire school community. Meetings now take place online as a matter of course.

The DISD's mission statement, "Global citizens set sail", is being further developed in collaboration with parents and teachers under the leadership of head teacher Jolk at Head of .

Michael Lummel has been leading DISD with a breath of fresh air as principal since August 2019. The mission statement project will be completed under his leadership at Head of . He involved the entire school community in the process. The result: the five DISD mission statement pillars. These are depicted as murals in the school foyer in an impressive art project with student*innen and make the school more colorful and lively.

The digitalization of the school is completed. Principal Lummel places a strong focus on STEM subjects. DISD becomes part of the Junior Engineering Academy of the German Telecommunications Foundation and initiates a cooperation with Zayed University, among others.

While Dubai is preparing for EXPO 2020 and the DISD has the honor of attending the topping-out ceremony for the German pavilion, Corona arrives unexpectedly and thwarts many plans. The pandemic has the world firmly in its grip and everyday school life changes abruptly.

From 22.03.2020, lessons will be moved to the virtual classroom. The Ministry of Education's decision poses a major challenge for the entire school community. Thanks to the digitalization carried out previously, most classes are prepared for online learning. A distance learning concept is developed in the shortest possible time.

DISD starts the new school year under strict coronavirus rules. Masks and social distancing are the order of the day. The classrooms are equipped for hybrid teaching so that student can also take part in lessons in quarantine. Traditional celebrations have to be suspended in the '20/21 school year, but teachers are finding creative solutions to unite the community online. Parents are providing active support.

EXPO 2020 starts in Dubai in October. All groups and classes visit the world exhibition as part of the school program. The German schools of the UAE perform with a community choir at the Nation Day in the Al Wasl Dome and present German school education on the Day of German Schools in the German Pavilion.

Dubai is booming despite the challenges of the pandemic, and the number of pupils continues to rise, soon reaching the impressive mark of 900.

In September 2022, it will finally be "No more masks". Schools return to 100% face-to-face teaching in October. The traditional festivals are celebrated in community again. In 2023, the almost forgotten pandemic has become a strengthening through challenges for the now 15-year-old DISD. The International School Association, the Parents' Council and the school management work closely together to further promote school development and quality.

In the school year '23/24, the number of pupils reaches the capacity limit with around 950 student* in many class levels. Under the leadership of Head of Principal Lummel, the structures of the teaching staff and middle management have been consolidated. The focus is on personalized learning and the wellbeing of student students and staff. The COP28 world climate summit takes place in Dubai. A group of primary school pupils has the special honor of presenting the results of a climate project with the German Climate Alliance network at COP28.

On 25 January 2024, DISD celebrates its 15th birthday together with International Day, organized by the school's parents. This day reflects the diversity of the community. Through cultural activities, culinary specialties from different countries and a lively exchange in the community, the international atmosphere of the school comes alive.