Kuwait has a rapidly growing young population, because in the last five years birth rates have spiked. While English is a widely spoken language in Kuwait, it is often a second to Arabic. With so many young people in Kuwait, English instructors are needed to match the growing demand for language learning. Kuwait offers a stark contrast to the Western world. As a Muslim-majority country with a recent history of major political transitions and an extremely arid landscape, it is very different from what most Westerners are used to. One perk of teaching in Kuwait: most paid jobs are tax free!
Kuwait has short winters and is therefore better suited for people who prefer warm weather. However, high temperatures in the summer can reach 44 degrees celsius, 112 degrees fahrenheit. As Kuwait is slightly smaller than New Jersey, and entirely desert), there is only one urban population center.
The City of Kuwait is home to much of the country’s population. It is also the capital and urban center of Kuwait. Kuwait City is the center of the country’s small but wealthy economy too. The city, and in turn the country, is booming and the resulting growth in population and wealth has sent demand for education skyrocketing, making Kuwait City a Mecca for international teachers.
Kuwait City and the surrounding area, including Jahra and Ahmadi, offer ample opportunities for exploration, learning, and entertainment, the most numerous of which are the local souqs (markets that are common in the Arab world). You’ll find spices, hand-crafted clothing, and artwork, produce, meat, and livestock at souqs, it all depends on where you are. Visiting a souq is one of the best ways to see the relics of the complex Kuwaiti culture.
Kuwait City’s Grand Mosque offers a beautiful look at some of the most sacred traditions of Islam and how Muslims worship. Any great teacher should know about their students’ background and context in order to best teach them. The Grand Mosque is a fantastic start in learning about the traditional side of Kuwaiti culture. On the modern side, the Avenues of Kuwait City (a walking mall filled with the latest fashions and trends) give you an insider’s view to the juxtaposition of modern and traditional culture.
Teaching in Kuwait
For native English speakers, one of the most customary and most in-demand teaching jobs in Kuwait is teaching English. Most English teaching jobs in Kuwait require that instructors be certified in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), or have some other type of teaching certification. Getting your TEFL certification in Kuwait, or abroad, is not difficult for fluent English speakers.
Many teaching opportunities in Kuwait will require instructors to teach more advanced English courses dealing with reading, writing, and comprehension. Although, teachers are not typically required to speak Arabic, however a general understanding of basic words and phrases will be an advantage. Many signs and postings in public places in Kuwait are in both Arabic and English.
Schools in Kuwait are structured similarly to most in the Western world. Students attend primary school through grade five, then attend Intermediate school grades six through ten. Secondary school, the last stop before attending university, includes grades 11 and 12. Schools run from the fall to spring, usually August to May, with a couple weeks of breaks throughout, usually at the beginning of January. Most teaching jobs in Kuwait give teachers the summer off, as well as most holidays.
You can expect to be teaching in Kuwait alongside other foreign teachers. Though there are teaching placements in Kuwait for undergraduates, many teaching jobs will require a degree in a relevant field. Classes in Kuwait are roughly around 20 to 25 students on average.
Salaries & Costs
Most teaching jobs in Kuwait offer teachers a salary of at least $2,500 a month, and some teachers can even make up to $3,500. At $2,500 per month, foreign teachers in Kuwait can expect to make $30,000 annually. While teaching in Kuwait, your income will be tax free, so your income can be fully spent at your discretion. Tax free incomes are one of the many perks of teaching in Kuwait, and many other countries in the Middle East! But, be sure to ask your teaching program provider or employer for more details on how this works.
Along with a nice salary, teaching in Kuwait offers ample additional benefits, including paid housing (usually a one bedroom or studio apartment), healthcare coverage, and annual flights home after the school year. Some teaching jobs in Kuwait may even offer tuition discounts for dependants. With all of these benefits included, teaching in Kuwait presents a highly livable option for teachers interested in living abroad.
The cost of living in Kuwait is fairly comparable to that of the U.S. and Canada. One noticeable difference is the price of gasoline, since Kuwait’s economy is supplemented by its plentiful oil exports. As a result, a gallon of gas costs the equivalent of about $0.82.
Accommodations & Visas
Many teaching jobs in Kuwait provide housing for foreign instructors, typically in a one bedroom or studio apartment.
A visitor’s visa is required to gain entry to the state of Kuwait. People from 34 countries, including the U.S., UK, Australia, and Japan are granted a visitor’s visa upon arrival, but others will need to apply for a visitor’s visa, which is valid for up to 30 days.
In order to live and teach in Kuwait, teachers will need another visa, however. This is called iqama, and must be applied for on the basis of a valid employment offer. The Kuwaiti employer will apply for the visa on behalf of the potential employee.
Visas are not too difficult to obtain, but it will cost you to apply. Application for a visitors visa is about $10. Work visas should be coordinated through your employer.
Benefits & Challenges
Limited Options. There are certainly fewer teaching jobs in Kuwait than in many other countries. But, for the size of the country, it offers a healthy amount of options. There are plenty of institutions looking for a qualified teacher to relocate to Kuwait.
Solid Benefits and Large Community. Besides the obvious financial benefits of no income tax and cheap gas, working and teaching in Kuwait can offer you a perspective unlike that which many others see. Since Kuwait is made up of 80 percent immigrants, you are sure to be among a wide variety of people trying to become part of the Kuwaiti national identity.
Strong Economy. Additionally, Kuwait is at the crossroads of an arid, stark landscape and a small but wealthy economy. Like many countries on the Persian Gulf, Kuwait is a hotbed for oil, and makes a hefty profit from it.
- Witness Development. Kuwait is still in a vital part of its construction as a nation. You will witness a country coming together in struggles and successes to build a quality life for its people after years of fighting, imperialism, and territorial disputes. It is a fascinating time in Kuwaiti politics and economics.