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Teach in the Middle East

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh, Ahlan wa Sahlan

Arabic Girl Studying

Teaching in the Middle East is a popular choice for many of our teachers; hot weather, TAX FREE salaries, FREE accommodation and an overall high quality lifestyle.  It’s no wonder the demand for this region is so high.

There is a huge movement in the Middle East to raise education standards and they now even have a school inspection team supported by the Knowledge Human Development Authority (KHDA) to oversee the quality assurance provided in schools.  With people on the ground in the regions, SeekTeachers™ is able to provide you with up to date information and the support needed to find the right fit for you & help you get settled in. 

Type of Schools
Schools range vastly in this region.  Not all schools claiming to be “international” are truly “international”.  Most schools are for profit and are quite new.  Schools are usually owned by wealthy businessmen/women who run education establishments for profit.  Members of the Senior Management Team are western expatriates from countries such as UK, USA, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.  They can also be local educators, either way this working climate in this region is fairly slow and therefore requires patience and flexibility of culture and lifestyle.

Many of in the international schools adopt some or all of the following curricua:
IB Diploma, MYP (not so common), PYP, IGCSE, National Curriculum of England & Wales, IPC, MYC, EYFS and a Local curriculum.  Some schools operate the NSW or Victorian Curriculum of Australia only.

As educational standards are on the rise so are the calibre of teachers the Middle East is looking for.  Unless it is a TEFL based role it's fairly standard to have the following:

  • A Bachelors Degree with a Teaching Qualification. 
  • 2 years experience for teaching staff. 
  • 3 years experience for managers and member of the senior management team. 
  • Having IB experience is a big advantage as this is a growing curriculum within the region. 

For Universities:

  • PhD. 
  • 2/3 years experience. 

Remuneration Package

Schools provide generous remuneration packages for the right candidate.  Salaries are paid in local currency (Dirham, Dinar or Riyal) and it quite normal for schools to provide staff with accommodation which is partly furnished.  In addition, medical cover is normally provided for the teacher and even state medical is extremely good compared to other regions of the world.  Utilities are very cheap and could be provided within your package as well as flights at the start of the contract and the end of the contract.

If you apply to work in this region, expect contracts to normally be two years minimum, although some very select number of schools will have a one year contract which is renewable on mutual agreement.  For members of the Senior Management a contract would normally be three years long.  Kuwait as a standard provides one year contracts.  In addition a bonus, which is called a “Gratuity”, may also be given after completing at least a year’s service.

It's important to bear in mind the salaries provided are tax free so keep that in mind when comparing it to your gross income and you still have to pay for housing, utility bills etc.  Many single teachers comfortably can get by on even £1000 per month and be able to save some money!
If you are a single teacher with a dependant you most likely get the best deal once you are doing paying for student fees and living cost.

Important Information

Not all schools in the Middle East are family friendly so it’s important to know those that provide tuition fees for children and are able to support a non teaching spouse.  Teaching couples do have a slight advantage because of the added value (two teachers instead of one) they can provide to schools.  In some cases a larger based accommodation is provided for teaching couples, although in the majority of case senior teachers get the larger type accommodation. 

If your partner has a job in this region and you are under his/her sponsorship, housing will most likely be part of his/her package so you won’t qualify for any form of housing allowance.

The law of the land states you have to be legally married to live together and so this can present some difficulties for unmarried partners that wish to live together and teach, with or without dependants.  Living together in this region out of wedlock is not preferred or recommended although we have been told by some of our teachers that some schools are flexible.  It is best to discuss your family status with you SeekTeachers™ consultant before choosing to work in this region.

While there is great weather, beautiful beaches and a good lifestyle in the Middle East, it’s a fairly dry country in terms of alcohol consumption.  In some parts it is totally forbidden while in others you must acquire a liquor license if questioned by the authorities. Alcohol is available in most of the top hotels with bars but it’s important to note it’s not as easy as going down the local pub for a drink.  It’s important to note that if this region is foreign to you, you should respect its culture and religion.  At all costs avoid public drunkenness in this region!

There are ample of opportunities in this region for TEFL qualified instructors, but it’s important to note that salaries are less then primary and secondary qualified teachers and you should have at least one year of experience before applying.

Finding work in the Middle East can be a complicated process if you’re going at this alone as nearly all the countries have their own rules, age restrictions and qualification criteria.  Be sure to discuss any concerns you have with your SeekTeachers™ consultant to put your mind at ease.