The Middle East, one of the biggest areas of international and intercultural politics and history, is the newest hotspot for youths looking to jumpstart their careers. Doing an internship in the Middle East will help you go from college student with some experience to a young professional with a global outlook and concrete skillset. Take your career goals to the international level by finding an internship in the Middle East!
While a lot of people choose not to see it, the Middle East has always been one of the biggest education and technology hubs in the world. Full of international cities and professionals from all different backgrounds and skill levels, the Middle East is truly perfect for youths seeking out a challenging, yet rewarding, internship abroad. The specific sub-region that is best for you, however, will depend heavily on your professional interests and goals. Three of the top locations for internships in the Middle East include:
Israel. The small country of Israel has always been a tourist destination, mostly because of its religious history, but it has recently become a haven for international internships in the Middle East. With several bustling cities full of career opportunities, Israel can provide interns with a challenging professional environment in the midst of total historic and natural beauty. From conflict resolution and politics to camel conservation, young professionals will have the world at their fingertips in Israel, and come home with a resume-boosting experience that is sure to help enhance their careers.
Egypt. Truly one of the founders of our modern world, Egypt has been a leader in education, technology, and business for centuries. As a culture heavily influenced by its rich history of building larger-than-life pyramids, pharaohs ruling well into mummyhood, and temples brimming with treasure, those who intern in Egypt can expect to learn a thing or two about hard work and power. Internships in Egypt range from wildlife and historical conservation to tourism marketing, and interns can expect to spend their free time relaxing on the banks of the Nile, adventuring on sand dunes, and picking up Arabic slang from locals in the markets.
United Arab Emirates. Located in the central region of the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates and home to three different cities with populations of over one million people. While internship placements can be found anywhere in the UAE, most young professionals head to the enormous cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi to get involved in their internationally-acclaimed hospitality and technology industries. When not in the office, be sure to spend some time exploring the surrounding deserts and wildlife, enjoying herbals teas in luxury cafes, and reenacting scenes from Aladdin in the UAE’s many palaces and temples.
Internships in the Middle East
Despite what most media agencies want you to see, the majority of the Middle East is full of thriving businesses and meaningful opportunities for young professionals and students seeking professional experience abroad. Whether you are looking to develop a specific skill to help with your future job search or you want to make a difference in the world while connecting with other like-minded people, there are internships in the Middle East to fit your interests.
Many countries in the Middle East are home to booming cities filled with large corporations, which is why business internships are among the most popular in the region. Interns can take their pick of marketing, sales and customer service, and accounting placements, as well as a more specific fields within the business work, such as engineering or IT. Because the Middle East is such a large tech hub, many young professionals flock to this region for technology internships with innovative, international businesses too.
Another popular industry for internships in the Middle East is conservation, whether focused on environmental work or animal science. As a place of natural and historic beauty, there are tons of places all over the Middle East that are desperate for interns to help with restoring ruined temples and studying the pollution and density levels of the surrounding seas. If you want to help your host country during your internship in the Middle East, but want to work with people rather than wildlife, then you may be perfect for an internship in social work. This can include working in politics, with religious groups, or with children at schools.
Structurally, your internship in the Middle East could either be a business professional environment where you will be working 40 hours per week in a suit and tie or it could be part time and very casual. For independent paid internships, you will probably need some previous experience or education on the subject, but usually program-based internships require no experience.
Salary & Costs
The amount of money you can make interning in the Middle East versus the amount you will have to pay completely depends on the nature of the internship. Some students opt for a three week internship during their semester break while others look for a semester-long internship through a company, and these different options can either cost money or save money.
Many students looking to gain some experience before graduation head for program-based internships in the Middle East, where students pay anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 to have a several week to several month-long professional experience with a relevant company. Other young professionals seek out private internships abroad in the Middle East, where they are temporary employees of a company and get paid or given a stipend accordingly. Most stipends for interns range from $500 to $1,000 per month, which is usually enough to cover housing, food, and transportation costs.
Your cost of living will depend on your location; countries like the United Arab Emirates and Israel frequently rank as more expensive than Egypt and Jordan, so your cost of living will be higher but your hourly wage or stipend will also probably be higher. If you are aiming to do an internship in the Middle East through a designated program and not break the bank, check out internship programs in these less expensive countries. Beyond not having to pay as much for the actual internship, you will also be able to get by on just a few dollars per day for food and transportation.
Accommodation & Visas
Similar to the salaries and costs, the accommodation options and visa requirements in the Middle East vary depending on the region, length of your stay, and the nature of your program. Young adults who will be doing an unpaid internship through their university will have a much different situation than someone doing a paid year-long internship through a large corporation, so be sure to do your research before you select an internship in the Middle East.
The most popular type of living arrangement for young professionals is an apartment in the city you are working in. If you are interning in the Middle East through a specific program or your university, you may have dormitory or host family living arrangements available for you, but if you are interning independently, you will probably have to find housing for yourself. Living in a shared apartment is ideal if you are looking to learn more about the host language and culture (and save some money!). Having local roommates will enable you to see what life is like in your host country and make stronger connections with natives.
The type of visa required to intern in the Middle East will also depend on where you are working and how long you are staying for. For many countries, if you are staying for longer than 90 days, you will have to apply for a residence visa and a work permit, whereas in other countries, you will just need a work visa. In addition to the type of visa required, you will also need to think about what is in your passport. Many countries in the Middle East will not allow a visitor to enter if they have traveled to Israel or an Israeli ally before. Make sure that you will be allowed entrance to the specific country before applying for an internship there. You may or may not be provided with assistance when it comes to the visa process. For more country-specific visa and passport information, check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Gain Experience in a Unique Area. The Middle East is usually the last place people look when considering international travel, out of misplaced fear and ignorance. Because of this, young adults who relocate to this area to both live and work really demonstrate independence, strength, and a hunger to learn and grow. What employer wouldn’t want to hire someone who has already proven that they can do their work well despite being outside of their comfort zone?
Become a Respectful Employee. As a very conservative and traditional area of the world, Middle Easterners take their customs and way of life seriously. Young adults who choose to intern in the Middle East will have to quickly adapt to this different lifestyle, and they will soon gain a deep respect for a culture that used to be very foreign to them. By moving to such a different area of the world, interns will learn about adaptability and flexibility in both the professional and personal worlds. Regardless of if you will be working in a major corporation in the future or a startup, interns who work in the Middle East will know how important it is to always have an open mind, be respectful of your co-workers and customers, and be a flexible member of the team.
The Middle East is one of the most challenging and eye-opening areas of the world, so young professionals who choose to do their internships in the Middle East will be seriously rewarded for it. A majority of the world’s most important languages, religions, and technologies were born in this area, and interns who come here with the hopes of growing professionally and personally will see quickly that they made the right choice. Don’t let the frequent negativity in the media scare you away from doing an internship in such a beautiful and important region. Do an internship abroad in the Middle East to jumpstart your career and help educate others around you!