Dear KES Family,
"But before we talk business first tell me, how is your family?"
With this question, I was greeted in Abu Dhabi by an Emirati gentleman named Fadi Alyousef who shares our vision of building a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school in the UAE. For the next hour we each told stories about our children, our brothers and sisters, and of our parents. As the week progressed and we visited homes, met spouses and children and shared dreams and meals with our partners in the United Arab Emirates, it was clear that building our relationship was as important as the work we had come to do.
I was accompanied by Trevor Hughes (Chair of the Board, King's-Edgehill School) and by Warren MacLeod (Director of King's-Edgehill School International), as well as Issmat Al-Akhali (CEO of Blacksheep Projects in Halifax). After three years of successful license and land applications in Abu Dhabi, we were travelling to walk the land upon which our new campus, King's-Edgehill School Abu Dhabi (KESAD), would reside. Located in a quickly growing community and bordered by beautiful new homes and pristine roads and highway, our large parcel of land is untouched desert sand.
The concept designs for KESAD are beautiful. Colourful and uniquely laid out, windows and shaded courtyards abound. It is designed to maximize natural light and to enhance everyone's educational experience. Large classrooms and open communal spaces will benefit from wide corridors and huge windows. It will be a knock-your-socks-off gorgeous school for upwards of 2,000 students. If all goes smoothly with the construction, we will welcome our first students in September 2019.
After our work and 'business' was done, but before we set off for the long journey back to Nova Scotia, we had a final farewell in the home of Raed Alyousef, another partner and investor in KESAD. Greeting us warmly at his doorstep were his two dogs (a large Husky and tiny Pomeranian) and his parrot. The conversation ranged from art to time travel. He has two striking paintings by a Syrian artist of which Warren asked if he could take photographs. "Of course," Raed replied. "My house is your house."
Two flags will fly at KESAD: Canada and the UAE. I am thrilled with the cultural bridges we are creating and the core values we share. In the future, the opportunities for our students at home and at KESAD to do the same will be limitless.