Al Faris International School – Nurturing Creative and Independent Global Leaders of Tomorrow  
Al Faris International School (FIS)
Al Faris International School (FIS)

Education transforms students into future leaders while unleashing their potential. The leading schools in Saudi Arabia are taking every step to ensure overall development of the students and bringing out the best in them. One such renowned school embracing innovation and excellence while delivering the best educational and career development opportunities is Al Faris International School (FIS).

It is a fully certified IB World School. It follows the philosophy and teaching methodology of the IB Programme, which centers on inquiry-based learning whereby students actively guide the learning process through inquiry and discovery, reflect on their learning and translate knowledge into action.

Today’s Al Faris International School began as a modest institution in 2003, offering an American curriculum to 360 enrolled students. The goal of its Owner and Director, Mrs. Sahar Al Marzouki, was to open new opportunities for Saudi youth.  To this end, she campaigned to ensure Saudi students’ access to international schools so that they would benefit from the breadth of global education.  In 2011, FIS moved to its new (and current) home, providing opportunities for improvements, including expanded sports facilities (indoor and outdoor basketball and soccer courts, exercise rooms, and two indoor swimming pools); fully equipped computer and science labs, cafeterias, libraries, art rooms; outdoor spaces and an auditorium. The curriculum also continued to grow, and by 2012 FIS was recognized as one of the top international schools in Riyadh. It is respected for balancing an American curriculum with Arabic and Islamic studies and recognized as an educational trendsetter with the implementation of renowned programs such as the Daily 5 for Literacy, the Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop, and classroom technology.

The global search for innovation led to the International Baccalaureate (IB).  In 2014, FIS was recognized as a candidate for certification of the IB Diploma program. Candidacy for the Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP) soon followed, and in 2017, FIS became a fully accredited IB World School in all three levels.

Exceptional Leadership

Al Faris International School is the realization of the childhood dream of Mrs. Sahar. She credits her father, a writer, for supporting and inspiring her to achieve it. The school’s name and logo, a valiant knight whose weapon is a pen instead of a sword, is a character from the pages of his book.

Mrs. Sahar tells the story of her father pointing to light in the distance and saying, “That is your school.”  This vision and personal engagement are what have defined FIS. Mrs. Sahar was determined to open its doors for both Saudi and expat youth to achieve their dreams with support and encouragement, just as she did.  To this end, she has been a pioneer in bringing the best of global education initiatives to Saudi Arabia.

Mrs. Sahar is an active philanthropist with prominent involvement in cancer awareness campaigns, environmental issues, and refugee assistance. She is a global voice for access to education, notably as a guest at UNESCO’s 2019 conference on Children’s Right to Quality Education.

A Plethora of Educational Facilities

Al Faris International School emphasizes the academic development of the students. Its curriculum includes the core subjects of English, math, sciences, social studies/history, as well as Arabic, French, computer studies, robotics, arts, and physical education. Emphasis is on inquiry and discovery, reflecting on what is learned and using that knowledge for meaningful  action. The school’s learning approaches build social and emotional skills, college, and career-ready skills, and enhance problem-solving abilities.

Going Beyond Academics

Al Faris offers after-school activities for students as well as activities open to the community through the Al Faris Academy. These include a variety of sports as well as clubs for visual arts, reading, science, robotics, research, and creative writing. High school students can participate in the Model United Nations club. Students of all ages participate in various events during the school year, including cancer awareness, carnivals, themed activity days, talent shows, and community outreach projects.

Preparing Students for a Promising Career

In line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and its emphasis on global outreach, a key component of the school’s program is developing a sense of shared responsibility to utilize knowledge to address both community and global issues with innovation and respect for diverse ways of life and opinions. Al Faris’ ultimate goal is not simply to impart facts to the students but to develop a love of learning through curiosity, discussion, and exploration. It aims to show them the methods and tools to discover their answers as life-long learners after formal education.  In doing so, the school does not leave behind its own cherished culture and heritage. “Indeed, it acts as a launchpad for our students to be active and ethical global citizens ready to contribute their unique perspectives on the issues of our time,” expresses the management. The organization and execution of conferences, events, and charity drives are student-led, teaching them valuable planning, management, networking, and promotion skills.

Achievements in Abundance

Al Faris has achieved noteworthy landmarks throughout its journey of imparting excellent educational facilities. It is a fully certified IB World School and is accredited by Cognia. In 2019, FIS students were selected by the Ministry of Education to represent Saudi Arabia in the IEA Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The school has conducted a student-led organization and has hosted the “Heal the World Conference” addressing the UN Global Goals for Sustainability, 2018. Al Faris’ Model United Nations club hosted a student-led 2020 virtual FARISMUN Conference with 140 attendees.

Since 2016, the school has been running “Helping Refugees in Jordan,” a sustainable project to support refugees living in Al Azraq, Jordan. Grade 11 and 12 students procure and take donated supplies, assist in infrastructure improvement projects, and help local schools. The project was published in the special magazine distributed at the IB Global Conference in Hong Kong, March 2019.  It was also a semi-finalist in the international UN Global Social Leaders (GSL) Global Goals competition.

Tackling the Pandemic Challenge

Covid-19 has disrupted the smooth operations of every industry. With the onset of the pandemic, every industry had to shift its operations from offline mode to the online arena. Fortunately, FIS experienced a relatively smooth transition to the sudden shift to online learning in 2020 as its teachers and students had already been using the Edmodo Connected Classroom, which enabled them to continue with assignments and communication.

It had worked to establish video classes on its current platform, Microsoft Teams. The beginning of the academic year 2021-22 has been a challenge to balance online learning with in-person classes, as only fully vaccinated high school students were allowed to attend school. FIS has adjusted its class sizes and maintained social distancing with creative use of space. Engaging visual reminders about good health practices have been placed throughout the school. It has effectively used its government app, Tawakalna, to monitor the vaccination status of all those entering the school and used its PDF health passport to admit vaccinated students back to campus when they become eligible.

Steps towards the Future

Steps Toward the Future

FIS has begun launch of a new student management system accessible online or by mobile app. Plans are also are underway for a new school building in Riyadh.

Recently, FIS was honored to be selected by His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to open a new branch in the city of AlUla, home to Al Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We are excited to bring a new vision to one of the oldest cities on the Arabian Peninsula in line with the educational aspirations of the country’s leadership through Vision 2030.

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