Teaching English in Saudi Arabia
Teaching English in Saudi Arabia provides teachers with the opportunity to live and work in one of the world’s wealthiest countries. It’s fair to say that the culture of Saudi Arabia, like the rest of the Middle East, is radically different to anything you are likely to have experienced in the past. This can be both compelling and daunting. That said, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Bahrain are becoming more westernised and already have quite large expat communities. You may suffer quite a culture shock when you first arrive, but the rewards for your perseverance can be significant.
In the last couple of decades, Saudi Arabia has become far more open and accessible to the western world, especially in terms of business, and the result of this is a constant influx English teachers to satisfy the increasing need of both companies and individuals who wish to do business internationally.
There are plenty of opportunities for ESL teachers who can be employed by schools, universities and also larger companies, and large recruitment campaigns are quite common. Teaching salaries in Saudi Arabia can be very tempting, and qualified teachers can reasonably expect to earn between $3000 and $4000 a month, tax free.
On the negative side, teachers generally receive less support than might be found in other countries, so you need to be quite independent if you want to succeeed as an ESL teacher in Saudi Arabia.
Supply and demand
There is a growing demand for experienced ESL Teachers in Saudi Arabia, and more teaching vacancies than available teachers, meaning those teachers who are happy to adjust to the local culture can effectively pick and choose their jobs, or negotiate salaries. It is clear that the main reason for this disparity is the western unease with the perceived culture, largely down to fear of punishments under sharia law and a wide range of generally inaccurate preconceptions.
Although you will need to adapt to life there, those who have been there say that it is a worthwhile as well as profitable experience. In short, if you are a confident teacher, able to ignore the media scare stories, you may well find that you thoroughly enjoy living and working in Saudi Arabia.
Qualifications and visas
To get a good job you will require a degree and TEFL certification, and a visa is obligatory. However, once you find a job, your employer will usually deal with the visa burocracy for you.