Local Advisory Board

The Gift of Good Governance

As part of our governance structure, DAA has a Local Advisory Board (LAB) which meets at least five times a year. As outlined in the UAE National Agenda, a major initiative for all UAE schools is to build strong school governance to help create a national education sector with enduring and consistent quality, as we work together towards achieving Vision 2021.

Our Board Members

Amr Albialy, Chairperson

Amr Albialy is the Chief Executive Officer of Robeco Middle East. Robeco is a $200bn leading global Asset Manager with more than 15 offices across the world. Amr is in charge of the overall management, strategic, commercial and tactical operational decisions of the Robeco Dubai office, and is responsible for leading the team covering the Middle East and Central Asia. He is also responsible for managing and developing strategic relationships with large institutions, mainly Sovereign Wealth Funds, Pension Funds, Central Banks and Government Institutions throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Amr has over 22 years of experience in the financial industry. He has extensive experience in Asset Management, Trading, Investment Banking and Private Equity from both international and regional financial institutions including HSBC and Deutsche Bank. He joined Robeco from Emirates NBD Asset Management where he was the Head of Business Development.  Previously, Amr worked as Director, Head of Structured Products and Distribution at the Investment Banking subsidiary of Dubai Islamic Bank where he was also responsible for the development of the asset management business. Amr graduated with honors from the City University of Seattle, Washington with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Business Administration. He has furthermore completed the Pension Fund and Investment Management program from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Saliha Afridi, Inclusion Governor

Dr. Saliha is a Clinical Psychologist and Managing Director at Lighthouse Arabia. Raised and educated in the US, she moved to Dubai in 2009. Dr. Saliha previously worked at a private practice for several years before co-founding The Lighthouse in 2011 to make a positive impact on the mental health of anyone living in the Dubai region. She has a particular interest in parenting and has spent many years doing research and implementing parenting programs based on Adlerian child guidance principles.

Dr. Saliha received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the Arizona School of Professional Psychology and is a member of the American Psychological Association. She is also licensed by the Arizona Board of Licensed Psychologists.

Dr.Ethan Hildreth, DAA Superintendent/CEO

Dr. Hildreth has worked with schools in the United States, Netherlands, Russia, India, China and the UAE. He was the superintendent of one of the largest school districts in the US, looking after over 40,000 students across 50 schools, and has experience as principal at all levels including elementary, middle and high school, as well as serving as a college instructor and high school Advanced Placement teacher.

Dr. Hildreth is the recipient of numerous awards and commendations, including Georgia Senate and House Resolutions for excellence in educational leadership, NAACP Educational Leadership Award, GSSA President’s Award, STAR Teacher, and Atlanta Top Educational Leaders. He was also the recipient of the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.

A graduate of United States Air Force Academy (BS), University of Tennessee (MA), and Georgia State University (PhD), Dr. Hildreth has authored various articles on education as well as the book Inspiring Creators: Conversations with Visionary School Leaders.

Dr. Hildreth is father to five adult children who are scholars, creators, and entrepreneurs, each making their own unique mark on the world.

Hywel Benbow, GEMS Senior Vice President, Global Data & Analytics

Hywel Benbow joined GEMS Education in June 2017. As Vice President Global Data & Analytics, he oversees our education data and analytics capabilities and supports other projects. His role includes working closely with colleagues from across the business supporting the delivery of key priorities by developing insightful and analytical solutions that provide the right people with the right information at the right time.

Prior to joining GEMS, Hywel worked in the Civil Service for Ofsted in the United Kingdom and has over 10 years of experience working in data and analytics in both public and private sectors. Hywel also brings experience in policy and strategy development, performance management and research.

Simon Herbert, GIS Superintendent / CEO

Simon Herbert joined GEMS Education in 2020 as Head of School/CEO of GEMS International School – Al Khail. A dynamic, culturally astute school leader skilled at encouraging and inspiring both students and staff, Simon has worked in the education sphere for over 30 years, having taught and held leadership roles in high-profile schools across the globe.

Prior to joining GEMS, Simon was based in China, where he quickly rose to the position of Headmaster of Dulwich College Beijing after initially joining as Head of Senior School. Over the course of his eight years at Dulwich, the school achieved consistently high average IB results as well as superb university placements, while maintaining its holistic and philanthropic values. Simon also spent 12 years with the prestigious Fettes College in Edinburgh, Scotland, first as Head of Modern Languages and then as Housemaster of Glencorse House. During his time at Fettes, he led the introduction of the IB Diploma Programme and transformed the effort grades of his house from mediocre to best-in-college. He also coached the First XI Boys’ Hockey team, who went on to win the Scottish Championship.

Faizal Hasham M.Sc. MBA, P.Eng., Parent

Faizal Hasham is an air quality consultant, and is the General Manager of AQM LLC, a UAE based lifestyle products company.  He provides strategic planning and engineering consulting services, and has over 20 years of work experience in environmental engineering, geographic information systems (GIS), construction management, and e-commerce in Canada and the UAE.

Faizal completed his Masters degree in Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta, Canada, and his MBA from Queen's University, Canada.  He and his wife have 3 sons, aged 12, 10, and 1, with the older 2 currently attending DAA.  He has a passion for voluntary work, and has served on various boards including FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance Canada and the OMS Montessori Canada.

Akshat Sinha, Student & Co-President

Rebekka Laubenthal, Student & Co-President

Functions of the Board

The Board works to understand and uphold GEMS and DAA’s vision and values, monitor, advise and support the school on matters of strategy and policy, assist with monitoring the school’s standards and performance, and support the school and the Superintendent by providing counsel. The members are experienced and skilled individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Our Local Advisory Board holds the important role at DAA of overseeing the achievement of the school’s strategic aims and objectives, greatly improving the school’s performance. The LAB is not involved in financial matters, the appointing of staff, the day-to-day operations of the school, admissions, nor individual issues. The LAB assists with monitoring the activity and performance of the school by supporting the school’s senior leaders to be fully accountable for DAA’s outcomes. Working in partnership with the school, the Local Advisory Board actively collaborates, engages and challenges the school through constructive dialogue.

Last spring, our LAB was selected by KHDA to participate in the production of a Governance video to be shared throughout Dubai Schools. Please take time to view this work as we were honored to have been part of this work that will benefit all schools. You can watch the KHDA video above.

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