First school in the UAE to offer recycled, vegan shoes as part of school uniform

Swiss International School Dubai, the emirate’s first bilingual International Baccalaureate School, has always voiced a commitment to tangible sustainable action, as part of its vision to create truly global citizens.

The visionary school, based in Al Jadaf, has now tied up with Thaely shoes, to offer pupils special sneakers, ethically made of recycled materials as part of the school uniform.

Ruth Burke, School Principal and CEO, says: “It’s fantastic to find a cool, local brand – created by a young student – which is sustainable and which our pupils really like. At SISD, we encourage our pupils to think out of the box, and to go the extra mile – Thaely shows what’s possible when you really put your mind to something. We want our pupils to feel comfortable, and to look smart, but also, hope that every time they look at their feet, they are reminded of our collective, global responsibility to act sustainably, and the power of pursuing your dreams.”

The ‘Y2K pro’ shoes – inspired by classic basketball sneakers of the early 2000s – are the result of a design project by Dubai student and company founder Ashay Bhave. He wanted to develop an ethically produced sneaker that only uses components recycled from waste materials. The aim of the exercise was to find a solution to the problem of the 100 billion plastic carrier bags used each year that use 12 million barrels of oil and kill 100,000 marine animals annually.

After creating a successful prototype, he went on to win Amity University’s Eureka start-up pitch competition in 2019, which helped provide funding to further develop his sustainable sneakers.

He produced a commercial version of the distinctive sneaker from recycled plastic carrier bags, plastic bottles and rubber.

Company founder Ashay Bhave says: “The Thaely Y2K Pro is a revolution in the footwear industry, and Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai is the first school in the world to offer Thaely sneakers as a part of their uniform! Each sneaker uses recycled components made from 10 waste plastic bags, 12 waste plastic bottles and industrial rubber waste. All components, including the glue, are PETA-certified vegan.”

What’s more, each pair is packaged in a reusable shopping tote made from four waste plastic bottles and a plantable box made from recycled paper, embedded with basil seeds and dyed with waste coffee grounds. And since launch, the shoes have helped divert more than 48,000 plastic bottles and more than 40,000 plastic bags from landfill.

Ruth Burke continues: “We set the bar with regional, bilingual IB education, and now we are setting the bar with this exciting sustainable addition to our school uniform. These special sneakers are now available with a special exclusive discount code for pupils and parents, and we look forward to seeing some of our 1800 pupils all looking great in their new Thaelys.”

Swiss International School in Dubai

Global in outlook, bilingual in approach, Swiss in culture, and yet firmly rooted in the local community of Dubai – that’s Swiss International School in Dubai, or SISD.

The Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai (SISD), Dubai’s first bilingual International Baccalaureate School, opened in 2015, and is the largest Swiss school outside Switzerland.

The school is a leading international day and boarding school where future generations are inspired to become confident and enthusiastic lifelong learners, properly prepared to embrace all the opportunities and challenges life presents.

With a diverse student body of 1800 pupils comprising more than 75 different nationalities, the school believes the next generation of international citizens will need to be dynamic, flexible and linguistically ambitious. With this in mind, SISD offers immersive bilingual programmes in either of the Swiss languages of French and German, but also a strong English programme with foreign languages. For students who don’t wish to pursue a fully bilingual programme, there is a unique STEAM programme for all children from age 4-11 years. SISD stands out as one of only a handful of educational establishments globally classified as an IB Continuum school, which means it offers International Baccalaureate education to pupils from age 3 to 18.

Offering day school, weekly or full-term boarding options, this leading educational institution offers state-of-the-art STEAM education, and has world-class sporting facilities, too.

The school has laid out its B.E.S.T. Values, as follows:


A unique international and multilingual environment provides students with authentic exposure to English, French, German and Arabic. Students in the immersive bilingual programmes learn to communicate, think and reflect in two different languages. As global citizens, SISD celebrates diversity, promoting all languages and cultures with equal respect.


SISD staff believes in maintaining high standards and aspire to be the best they can be. A spirit of enquiry, encouraging both creative and critical thinking is fostered.


Students and staff believe that social, cultural, economic and environmental awareness prepare us to play our part in shaping a better future, both for ourselves and for those around us. The school campus is eco-friendly, winning international acclaim and awards for using less energy to create a comfortable and healthy environment.


In the school’s international community, we know that we are at our best when we all work together. We view active participation in the community, from the most local to the most global, as the foundation of a valuable life.