For those thinking of teaching abroad Saudi Arabia probably won’t be the first country that springs to mind. The need for teachers however, especially English language teachers, has exploded recently with ambitious plans set out in the countries Vision plan for 2030 and government initiatives in place to introduce the English language to university students.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s richest countries and a key ally of the United states in the Middle East. Plans set out in the countries 2030 vision outline a new economic path which isn’t as heavily dependent on the Oil Industry. As a result of their rapid economic growth and the alleviating of much of its people out of poverty many Saudi Arabians are hoping to ride the wave of their countries success and vision, a key component of this being learning and practising English.
Finding teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia can be a great way to experience a culture that is radically different from those found in the Western World. The culture and customs of Saudi Arabia are uniquely sculpted by Islam with the religion dominating all facets of life. Prayer is a central pillar of Islamic and therefore Saudi life with Muslims praying 5 times a day. This means the working day is interrupted in order to allow time to pray with changes to the working hours common during the Holy month of Ramadan.
Most foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are manual or semi-skilled workers usually from Africa, other Arab states and South/Southeast Asia. Whilst there have been problems with these workers working illegally Saudi Authorities have been clamping down on this practice in recent times. For highly skilled expats however, in particular teachers, there is still a very high demand and new government initiatives to increase the number of Saudi workers and cut down on illegal workers have not effected this appetite.
Once a Saudi Work Visa has been obtained those teaching in Saudi Arabia can enjoy a lucrative salary and benefits package. Depending on experience of course, certified or licensed teachers can earn between USD 3000 and 4000 a month. This amount is tax free and is often complimented with generous and comprehensive benefits packages that can include; flights, accommodation and health insurance.
A typical teaching week in Saudi Arabia runs from Saturday through to Wednesday with Thursday and Friday allocated as ‘the weekend’. School hours are usually from 7.00AM to 3.30PM and the school year begins in late August and ends in late June.
A Saudi work visa is essential for anyone hoping to enjoy a teaching job in Saudi Arabia. These can only be obtained with a confirmed job offer and sponsorship from an employer. It is not possible to simply arrive in Saudi Arabia and begin looking for work. Compared with other countries and due to Saudi Arabia’s strict stipulations and requirements obtaining a work visa can be a prolonged experience. For many who have taken up the opportunity to teach in Saudi Arabia however this is a minor problem, with excellent tax free salaries on offer coupled with the provision of very competitive benefit schemes, experiencing the unique culture of Saudi Arabia is a wonderful opportunity.