Four Best Reasons to Teach English in Saudi Arabia
#1 First of all the reasons to Teach English in Saudi Arabia? Money! Benefits! Wages are good, taxes are extremely low to non-existent, accommodation is free or heavily subsidized. Even utilities are heavily subsidized. Airfare for one and sometimes more trips per year to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are paid to teachers.
#2 Culture Blast! If you are a Westerner, you will find Saudi Arabia, especially Riyadh and more conservative areas to be a real smack in the face. To teach English in Saudi Arabia is to get a doctorate degree in cultural differences. You’ll get a real education in all those things they didn’t teach you about the real world back home in school. You’ll find that the Saudis are a friendly and welcoming people and that Arab culture is all about hospitality.
Even if you find the culture not to your liking, you don’t have to love every country you teach in. You can gain an education in “real world” in Saudi Arabia. The author of this post spent five years in Riyadh. While not loving the culture, he did gain a respect for the people and deeper understanding of the issues of the Middle East that so often hit the evening news. It was well worth the time spent there.
#3. You’ll learn classroom discipline. Or you won’t make it. Teachers are sometimes, by some students, thought of as servants and you’ll need to be a rock of consistency and strength to earn your students’ respect. But once you do earn that respect, you will find them to be cooperative and hard working. The discipline issue is one reason why most employers will want you to have had at least two years of previous EFL experience before they will even consider you. The KSA also likes teachers with a few more years under their belt. The cultural differences, the weather and the discipline issues mean high turnover rates at most schools and employers will tend to prefer teachers with a proven track record overseas. Newbies, they know, will not likely survive.
4. Food! There are not many public recreational opportunities in the KSA, so eating out ends up moving to the top of the “let’s go out and do something” list. There are no public movie theaters, bars or night clubs and even the few bowling alleys are for men only. So . . . we go out to eat! And there is a huge variety of excellent restaurants with very inexpensive prices. I suspect food prices or the costs of importing food is subsidized because you won’t likely find similar prices for such good restaurants anywhere else in the world. And, strangely enough, the Tokyo Restaurant in Riyadh is one of the best sushi and tepanyaki restaurants I’ve gone to anywhere, and that includes Japan and Korea! There’s also a great Korea buffet. If you enjoy eating out at reasonable prices, consider the KSA. For me, it’s a hobby.
All that said, know that employers and the government of Saudi Arabia have a rigorous screening process. Your education will be verified, a face-to-face interview will be required, a physical exam is needed and much more. You’ll have to be patient in finding the right job, landing it and getting all the paperwork done to get there. It can be a long process and frustrates many people who drop out of the process. That’s okay. If you can’t handle that frustration, you probably can’t handle the frustrations that come from learning a new and very different culture.
Saudi employers will usually require at least a bachelor’s degree, a couple years of experience teaching and some sort of EFL TEFL teacher training certification.
One of the most respected recruiters for the Middle East in general is Bayt. Click through on the link and do a search for English Teacher and you’ll be surprised by the opportunities at hand. Good luck! And remember to always do a search and bit of a background check about potential employers.
Teach English in Saudi Arabia