If you are seeking a cross-cultural teaching experience that will greatly enhance your global perspective and open your eyes to a world beyond imagination, then consider joining the steadily increasing workforce of foreign teachers in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is geographically wondrous, immensely wealthy, and devoutly religious. As the country gradually Westernizes its education system, the number of teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia continues to rise. Teaching in Saudi Arabia will not only provide a range of opportunities, it will provide teachers with an amazing professional experience abroad.
Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. Located in the heart of the kingdom, it is also a center of business, culture, and entertainment with a respectable expat life. Sweeping modern architecture mixed with a blend of historical heritage sites make Riyadh an impressive city to experience firsthand. Riyadh is also surrounded by breathtaking golden deserts and the stunning Tuwaiq mountains, making geographical exploration a must while teaching abroad in Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah, the so-called Bride of the Red Sea, offers individuals the chance to teach in Saudi Arabia within view of a beautiful coastal backdrop. The second largest city in Saudi Arabia is perhaps best known as a gateway to the nearby city of Mecca for Islamic pilgrims from all over the world. Jeddah is also a thriving commercial port which has developed into a resort city, offering international teachers a fascinating, fun, and relaxed lifestyle while teaching English abroad.
Teachers can also find teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia in more rural areas, as schools all across the country are in need of ESL teachers. Teaching English in a smaller desert town will be a tremendously unique experience, and afford international teachers with a very different lifestyle from the nation’s big cities.
Wherever you end up teaching abroad in Saudi Arabia, be prepared for a very conservative lifestyle which differs from the West in many ways. Saudi Arabia is a deeply religious country, and almost the entire population is devoutly Muslim. Females especially must brace themselves for a big change in social expectations as they learn to adapt to local customs. The best way to deal with culture shock is to embrace your teaching job in Saudi Arabia as a continuous learning experience and not to shy away from immersive opportunities.
International teachers have the opportunity to teach in Saudi Arabia in a variety of educational settings. ESL teachers are highly sought after in Saudi Arabia, as many citizens strive to learn the language of international business since the nation is a growing economic power globally. There are also many international schools and private institutions which offer subject-specific teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia, in areas such as Math, Science, and especially English, for qualified teachers. Most of these schools have openings in kindergarten, primary, and secondary level classrooms.
Though secular-leaning reforms have been made to the national curriculum in recent years, religion will still play a heavy part in teacher’s experience of teaching in Saudi Arabia. For example, classrooms are generally segregated between boys and girls, and female teachers are only allowed to teach female students. Although, teaching at a private institution will likely mean a Western or IB curriculum has been adopted. In any case, teaching in Saudi Arabia requires teachers to be mindful and respectful of cultural differences in and outside of the classroom.
The Saudi Arabian school year typically runs from late August until late June, with summer and “winter” breaks in between. School hours vary from institution to institution, but most likely teachers will work between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., from Saturday through Wednesday. Most teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia require teachers to conduct about 20 to 25 hours worth of teaching lessons a week. Teachers are expected to hold proper credentials to teach in Saudi Arabia, and some professional teaching experience is generally preferred.
Salaries & Costs
One of the best perks of teaching abroad in Saudi Arabia is the generous tax-free salary and excellent benefits which international teachers tend to receive. Salaries for teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia typically range from $3,000 to $4,000 per month, with benefit packages which include accommodation, flight reimbursements, health insurance, school meals, and opportunities for bonuses (not a bad deal at all).
Although Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy country, he cost of living is quite affordable. Many forms of entertainment and nightlife activities, which are a fundamental part of Western life, are not a popular part of Saudi Arabian culture. Thus, most individuals who teach in Saudi Arabia will find themselves leading a relatively laid back lifestyle, and therefore most teachers will have the opportunity to save up a considerable amount of money while teaching abroad.
Accommodations & Visas
Foreign teachers are highly encouraged to live in a Western style compound if teaching in one of Saudi Arabia’s larger cities. These housing complexes offer a very solid measure of security and protection, as well as relative cultural and gender freedom within the compound’s walls. Lodgings are comfortable and most compounds include at least one pool, recreational facilities, shopping areas, restaurants, and more. Although it is not recommended to live outside of a compound, there are some opportunities for teachers to obtain individual apartments too.
Before teaching in Saudi Arabia, teachers will need to apply for an employment visa to work in Saudi Arabia legally. Typically the visa application requires a confirmation of the teacher’s university degree, an employer letter, and a copy of a Saudi Arabian employment contract. Once you have selected a teaching job in Saudi Arabia, check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory to find an embassy or consulate nearest you, where you can inquire about the visa application process.
Benefits & Challenges
Teaching abroad in Saudi Arabia will be a life changing experience for international educators from all around the world. It is a beautiful country with a vibrant, and deeply felt, local culture. Thanks to Saudi Arabia’s solid relations with the West, adventurous individuals will find they have a rare opportunity to experience life within a thriving Middle Eastern community through teaching abroad in Saudi Arabia. International teachers will be shocked, challenged, and inspired by embarking on this bold teaching journey, which transcends cultural boundaries.