Sheikh Nahyan joins GEMS Education to launch major new global movement to put ‘Family First’

8 February 2024
  • All 45 schools in the UAE and Qatar will offer family-focused classroom projects
  • New movement for change will place a top priority on caring for elderly relatives
  • Programme fits GEMS’ mission to deliver a holistic education for all its students

For the last 65 years, GEMS Education has been putting ‘Family First’ at the heart of its teaching, and today we announced plans to incorporate this core principle in a new movement for global change while supporting the UAE Leadership’s agenda for social change.

The initiative was launched at GEMS World Academy – Dubai by His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.

Other VIP guests included Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Director-General of Dubai’s Community Development Authority, who addressed the audience of some 500 GEMS family members, including GEMS Education Founder Mr Sunny Varkey, students, parents, and grandparents.

“As I get a little older, I start to realise that the most important things in life are the family relationships we have. In all my travels, I have noticed that in developing economies there is a real family bond – of love and dependence. To me, this is the norm.

“However, in wealthier nations, I see people more isolated as they pursue their individual goals. It is good to dream but you mustn’t forget those that gave you the chance to dream in the first place – your families.”

Mr Sunny Varkey

Founder, GEMS Education

This movement for change encourages GEMS families to spend more time together, exploring new frontiers of experience, and tapping into the wealth of knowledge and wise counsel within the home unit that too often goes undiscovered.

Plans for Family First activations in 2024 include a large survey on family values, a monthly TED Talk-style discussion on different aspects of family support led by leading experts and proponents from around the world, and an end-of-year gala event to celebrate stories that encapsulate Family First principles. 


Every GEMS school in the UAE and Qatar has appointed a staff member as a Family First ‘Champion’ to spearhead individual school activities based on family values. All 44 GEMS schools in the UAE and Qatar will inculcate family values and the importance of family into their teaching from kindergarten years upwards.

This will take various forms, ranging from emphasising the importance of strong ethical behaviour in an Islamic or Moral Studies class, to interviewing an elderly Emirati grandparent about growing up in the UAE during the 1950s or 1960s in a history lesson.

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