Much more than the glitz and glam of towering skyscrapers, luxurious malls, and sparkling city lights, the UAE is an intriguing destination in the Middle East. The oil industry has brought a great deal of foreign workers, diversifying the UAE’s population. In fact, there are people from every continent and social class and Emirati citizens have become a minority. Despite the fact that Arabic is the official language, the UAE has adopted English as the lingua franca. Witness the wealth of the UAE’s seven emirates by swimming and diving in the Gulf of Oman, sightseeing and sandboarding in Dubai, or sunbathing in the Arabian Gulf, when you aren’t busy teaching in the UAE.
Many only think of innovative, futuristic, and ambitious Dubai upon hearing about the United Arab Emirates, but beyond its mega cities, there are palm-lined beaches, scorching hot deserts, rugged mountains, and stunning oases.
Abu Dhabi. Considered one of the most modern cities in the world, the UAE’s capital is also a hub of culture, sport, and leisure. Experience Emirati heritage and Gulf culture in Abu Dhabi’s sheesha cafes, waterfront walkway, the Corniche, and Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the sixth largest mosque in the world. Hit up Al Safa park to play volleyball, watch camels race at Al Wathba racetrack, or eat your way through Indian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese food. In your free time you can drool at the extravagant Emirates Palace and Yas Island’s Ferrari World (and just about every luxurious place the capital has to offer).
Dubai. Famous for the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and the world’s only seven star hotel, Burj Al Arab, Dubai is a city of the future. It’s chic, it’s fun, and it has got a lot to offer. Try wakeboarding in the Persian Gulf, ziplining, swimming with dolphins, riding water rapids at Aquaventure, or skiing indoors at Ski Dubai. During your time out of the classroom, get your fill of Emirati and Bedouin history at the Dubai Museum, admire cityscape views from rooftop bars, or enjoy traditional Levant food (shawarma!). Dubai’s neon lights capture its visitors and expatriates alike, giving you an unmatched place to teach English in the UAE.
Sharjah. Just north of Dubai lies the capital of Islamic culture (fancy, fancy UNESCO recognition). Sharjah is UAE’s only “dry” emirate, but it’s overflowing with art and heritage. Get your culture and history fix at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. If museum exhibitions tickle your fancy, cross over Burj Avenue to the arts neighborhood. To reflect on all this newfound knowledge, stroll along the Al Majaz waterfront until you reach the mix of restaurants, entertainment, and cafes (and the huge Ferris Wheel!) of the Al-Qasba.
Teaching Jobs in the UAE
In a Muslim country, with tolerance for non-Muslims and people from across the world, the UAE is attracting teachers to fill varied teaching positions for all ages, in all types of institutions.
Teaching abroad in the UAE isn’t your average ESL experience; it’s an opportunity to teach subjects (like math, science, or literature) in English to Arabic speakers. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) is reforming education, so core subjects like math and science are taught in English, which means there are plenty of teaching jobs in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and many more locations. You can teach English in the UAE, or teach several other subjects in technical schools, private international schools, universities, and public elementary, middle, and high schools.
In order to snag a coveted teaching job in the UAE, you should have a pretty good teaching background. Most teaching opportunities in the UAE seek applicants with previous experience, a bachelor’s degree, and/or a valid teaching license or certificate. If you’re interested in teaching in the UAE at the college level, requirements may include a master’s degree or a combination of a bachelor’s degree plus a few years of English-teaching experience.
The great thing about teaching in the UAE is that teachers live an upscale expatriate lifestyle for a decent amount of time (think: two to three year placements). Not to mention you’ll be able to enjoy national holidays off, as well as a break from July to August.
Salaries & Costs
One look at the massively modern cities in the UAE might make you do a double-take, thinking “how could I afford living THERE?” But, wait for it...there are very competitive salaries for most teaching jobs in the UAE.
Qualified teachers can expect to take a deep breath when it comes to finances. For most individuals that teach English in the UAE, housing is included, so you could even save some dirham while maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. Another great benefit: tax-free salaries that average $4,000. Oh, and airfare reimbursement to get you on over to the UAE. Some opportunities to teach English in the UAE even include more (whaaat?!) great benefits like health insurance, a relocation allowance, and bonuses.
With so much taken care of, the cost of living in the UAE won’t seem as sky high. Day-to-day expenses like a Coke for $1.50 or an inexpensive meal for $8 are super manageable. And all that extra dirham dough can be saved for later or spent living the lavish life in the UAE.
However, if you do need some extra help buying that international plane ticket or securing some spending money, check out FundMyTravel, where friends and family (and strangers) can give you a helping hand.
Accommodation & Visas
The UAE offers its foreign teachers lots of aid and peace of mind, to say the least. Those who teach English in the UAE enjoy a certain kind of happiness that comes from the words “accommodation included.” Whether you’re heading to teach English in the UAE solo or you’re relocating abroad with your family, there are teaching jobs available to accommodate your needs. Housing is provided in most positions, even for those with dependents! You’ll be set up with a furnished single or shared accommodation, which is extra awesome considering rent prices are extremely high in the UAE (score one for teachers!).
As for the visa process, citizens of the United States do not need a tourist visa for a stay of up to 30 days, while citizens of the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand are issued visas for up to 30 days when they arrive in the UAE. However, most teaching jobs in the UAE are way longer than 30 days. No need to fret though, because visa help is provided by your employer in most cases; the UAE thinks of everything, don’t they? If you want to personally give a quick glance at these pesky visa requirements, check out GoAbroad's Embassy Directory!
Benefits & Challenges
Culture & Comfort. Expats and Emiratis, halal and American food, and Islam and Christianity (and Hinduism and Jainism, too!), the UAE truly is multicultural and multilingual. Despite its relatively recent history, since 1971, inhabitants have roamed the region for thousands of years, creating a unique mix of history and modernity. From festivals to dhow races to cultural museums, the UAE will be a curious combination of Emirati culture and comforts from home.
Save, save, save! A longer commitment with a comfortable salary (as well as rockin’ benefits!) means you can save a significant amount of your paycheck while teaching in the UAE. Housing is covered, flights are reimbursed, and salaries are tax-free. Major win for those who decide to teach English in the UAE!
Oil Wealth. The discovery of oil literally transformed a country of desert dwellers to city civilians. While the economy is based on oil, the local people realize that focusing on education is important to further develop the country. Live and teach English in the UAE, a country of newfound wealth that blends authenticity with sheer lavishness, all while contributing to a society of well-educated individuals!
Mix traditional and modern in a location unlike any other, while furthering your teaching career and making a competitive salary teaching in the UAE; it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.