GEMS appoints Chief Education Officer

3 October 2022
Dr Saima Rana has been appointed Chief Education Officer, tasked with leading the delivery of the organisation’s overall education strategy at group level.

Dr Rana will assume her new role with immediate effect while continuing in her existing role as CEO/Principal of flagship school, GEMS World Academy – Dubai (GWA).

Dr Rana’s appointment follows a rigorous recruitment process involving a panel of external experts as well as feedback from a range of key stakeholders. It also reflects the transformational, positive impact her leadership has had on her school and the wider GEMS network since her arrival in the UAE in 2020.


Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, said: “GEMS is delighted and privileged to be able to appoint someone of Dr Rana’s stature to this extremely important position for our organisation. Her extensive experience, pedagogical expertise, and proven commitment to the highest standards of education and student wellbeing will be invaluable assets for our schools, our educators, our pupils, and their families. I truly believe that the next phase of our education journey will be a transformative one under Dr Rana’s inspirational leadership, and I look forward to working alongside her in the years to come as we continuously enhance our education provision.”

Commenting on her appointment, Dr Saima Rana said: “This is a great honour and privilege, and reflects the work done by the teams at GEMS World Academy – Dubai over these last two years. I will continue to be based at GWA and I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that we progress and secure brilliant futures for all our students. I believe that by remaining in post I will be better placed to understand the needs and challenges facing all schools throughout the GEMS network.

“I am looking forward to working with the other wonderful leaders across the whole organisation. My role will be to ensure that the educational vision of the organisation remains focused on being global, innovative, and inspiring, so that everything we do at GEMS is of the very highest professional standard and always places the wonderful students attending our schools right at the heart of everything.”

With a background in school improvement in inner-city, state, and private sector schools, and a PhD in Education, Technology and Global Politics, Dr Rana has worked in education throughout her career, with a particular focus on teaching and learning, raising standards, ICT, assessment for learning, curriculum, assessment and data, procurement, product development, school building designs, change management, international development, and building schools for the future.

Dr Rana has served as a panel member and subject expert on several programmes and projects for the UK’s Department for Education and Office for Standards in Education for Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). She is a member of numerous boards, including Pakistan Alliance for Girls Education, Mosaic Community Trust, Institute for Ethical AI in Education, Teach First Headteachers Board, and the BCS School Curriculum and Assessment Committee. In addition, Dr Rana has sat on the Board of International Baccalaureate Schools and Colleges Association and is a qualified Executive Leadership Coach. She has held the position of Inspector with several education regulatory bodies across the globe and is currently an IB Evaluator.

Alongside her roles at GEMS Education, Dr Rana is Chief Education Ambassador for the Varkey Foundation and Founding Trustee of The Shahnaz Foundation. She has devoted herself to a variety of charitable educational projects and has a particular passion for building schools for children in deprived areas across the globe. She is also a global ambassador for Girls Education initiatives as well as a mental health ambassador for Refugee Mothers, where she works with several organisations to support language learning and mental health. She believes passionately that education is the answer to eliminate poverty, inequality, and injustice, and has dedicated her career to the ideal of giving every child a world-class education.

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