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I want to work in the Gulf

 
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teachertomthailand



Joined: 31 Aug 2015
Posts: 19
Location: Boston, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:23 pm    Post subject: I want to work in the Gulf Reply with quote

I am a non-drinking teacher with a CELTA, two years of teaching experience in China and some experience teaching in the US, where I am currently located. I also have a degree and an American teaching license. I want to teach abroad again but I don't want to go back to Asia. I have decided to go to the Middle East. My first choice was Oman but I need at least another year of experience after my CELTA to meet their stringent requirements of 3 years post CELTA.

I have applied to jobs in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia because I want to earn money and I don't care about the lack of social life because I like to read. I don't need to eat pork. Since I have only ever been to the Dubai airport I could use some suggestions about what life is like in Kuwait or one of the other Gulf states. Is it imperative to buy a car? My priority is to have a good school and a stable income.

Has anyone attempted to learn Arabic? I have heard that it is almost as difficult as Chinese, which kicked my ass although I was able to learn a few important phrases. I would appreciate knowing about schools in the area that you liked working in or what you liked and didn't like about the Middle East.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10951
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since you repeated some of what you're asking about on the Kuwait forum, I responded there about lifestyle. I suggest you also check out the numerous broader expat forums and articles by Googling: expat life [country name].

Taxis are easily accessible in the major cities, plus, some Saudi employers provide transportation to/from work or offer a monthly transportation allowance. You won't know if you'll need a car until you know where you'll teach,

Again, Arabic is not a requirement since English is widely spoken for commerce/business. However, as with other countries, knowing the basics of the host language can be useful. There are Arabic language sites on the Net that will give you an idea of the level of difficulty you might expect.

You mentioned you want to teach in a "good" school. That's rather vague and subjective. Also, who do you intend to teach? Adults (e.g., university prep year, private language school, military/defense, British Council...)? Or teaching children in an international school, public school, or American-curriculum private school? BTW, if your qualifying degree entailed any online coursework, that precludes you from getting an employment visa for much of the Gulf.

Moreover, you haven't stated your specific qualifications: degree level and major, subject you're licensed to teach, years of US experience, etc. That will determine where in the GCC you can teach and the quality of the school and/or employer (e.g., direct hire vs. contracting company).

Always research the employer/sponsor before accepting an offer. I suggest you go through the forums to see which employers/sponsors to avoid. The region has been going through some changes; salaries have been declining, TEFL requirements change, there's a push for qualified nationals to replace expats, and some opportunities are heading for extinction.
.
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teachertomthailand



Joined: 31 Aug 2015
Posts: 19
Location: Boston, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Nomad Soul,
By a good school I meant one that is fairly organized, honors contracts and pays on time. I will research as you suggested. I am interested in teaching adults or teenagers. My CELTA was not online. I have a BA in History and enough graduate work to get a an American teaching license in ESL but I have not gotten the master's degree yet. I am aware that salaries have gone down since oil prices have declined but that's ok with me, I wasn't able to teach there when the wages were higher.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10951
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

teachertomthailand wrote:
I have a BA in History and enough graduate work to get a an American teaching license in ESL but I have not gotten the master's degree yet. I am aware that salaries have gone down since oil prices have declined but that's ok with me, I wasn't able to teach there when the wages were higher.

Salaries in the Gulf started declining years ago, before the oil slump hit. Plus, there's a strong push for Saudization, Omanisation, Emiratisation, and similar initiatives in the region. (Google them for more info.)

Although you hold a US ESL teaching license, your degree would have to be related to ESL and you'd need experience teaching ELLs in a US public school to qualify for the better international school jobs in the region. Ditto for university prep year programs in Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE. (The UAE market is shrinking.) Universities require a minimum TESOL-related MA and several years' experience gained post MA. Oman may not be as strict, but you'd be competing against experienced MA TESOL holders for the few positions that do crop up.

That leaves KSA, in which your most likely TEFL opportunity is via a Saudi contracting company. These positions represent the majority of Saudi ads you see on ESL job sites. These for-profit companies employ or sponsor teachers to work in various universities in KSA. Be aware, the university is the client and not the employer. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a "good" job when you're attached to a contracting company.

I suggest you head to the Saudi forum for more info and to post any other questions you may have.
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teachertomthailand



Joined: 31 Aug 2015
Posts: 19
Location: Boston, USA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will have a job interview with a recruiter from a company called Kindred Teach Abroad www.kindredteachabroad.com. I had a good experience with a recruiter in 2013 when I was looking for a job in China. I will research this company and any schools they suggest. I appreciate you responding to me. I feel like my travel skills are a little rusty since I have been in the US for 2 years and haven't gone anywhere.

The Saudization and Omanization that you mentioned sounds like rational economic initiatives by those countries to create jobs for locals.

(MOD edit to avoid political sidetracking)
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 17517
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

teachertomthailand wrote:
I had a good experience with a recruiter in 2013 when I was looking for a job in China.

Just a warning that the vast majority of complaints from people with new jobs in the Gulf have come from those placed by recruiters.

Direct Hire jobs usually have better pay, benefits, and work conditions. But they also require higher qualifications like an MA and a few years of related experience.

YMMV

VS
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In the heat of the moment



Joined: 22 May 2015
Posts: 276
Location: SAUDI ARABIA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only Arabic I've found really useful is simple directions for taxi and Uber drivers, of course only if they don't know 'left', 'stop' etc in English, plus daily greetings, and 'yes' and 'no'. If you were in the sticks in China you'd have experienced a lot less English speaking than Saudi/Kuwait, as it isn't the monolingual locals doing service jobs here, it's multilingual expats.

As to you getting a role in a 'good' school, there are no guarantees. For your first foray into the region you might have to make do with what you're offered, the better universities and schools often prefer someone with ME experience. Saying that you might be lucky, there's only one way to find out.

If you decide to accept a job, take lots of stuff to make your own entertainment; books, movies, music, an eReader, favourite condiments for cooking, etc. The shopping in the region is improving, although you might end up somewhere with just a crappy Panda supermarket that sells no imported goods, and no bookshop. The internet is usually good, though, so anything downloadable should be accessible.
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teachertomthailand



Joined: 31 Aug 2015
Posts: 19
Location: Boston, USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have to agree with everything you said. When I was in Thailand being able to direct a taxi driver was vitally important. I am good at making sure I have my own entertainment. I love to read and watch movies in my free time. My impression of Saudi Arabia is that gyms seem to be more common than they were in China, and I was in a big city too (Shenzhen).

In terms of learning Arabic, I have been using the Pimsleur CDs in my car although it is slow going. I would like to learn more than the minimum but I am aware that when teaching full-time it can be hard to devote as much time as you would like.

It would be nice to live in an area with good internet. The internet in southern China can be very slow.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10951
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

teachertomthailand wrote:
In terms of learning Arabic, I have been using the Pimsleur CDs in my car although it is slow going. I would like to learn more than the minimum but I am aware that when teaching full-time it can be hard to devote as much time as you would like.

I hope you're learning via Pimsleur's conversational Egyptian or Eastern dialect. If you're using their Modern Standard Arabic lessons, be aware many Arabic Ls won't understand you because it's the formal written and spoken form of Arabic.
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In the heat of the moment



Joined: 22 May 2015
Posts: 276
Location: SAUDI ARABIA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

teachertomthailand wrote:
I love to read and watch movies in my free time. My impression of Saudi Arabia is that gyms seem to be more common than they were in China, and I was in a big city too (Shenzhen)....
...It would be nice to live in an area with good internet. The internet in southern China can be very slow.


Yes, that is always good. There are no guarantees, I've lived in a modern city on the east coast and my apartment was in a 4G black spot. I've also lived in a one-horse town in the boonies and the 4G was excellent, usually hovering around 1 Mbps even though I had no idea where the antenna was. I have an STC QuickNet 4G device, it's portable so stays plugged in at home to charge the (removable) battery, then goes with me as a hotspot for my phone/tablet. Around Riyadh it generally has a fast connection, but if it fails when needed - if I want to hail an Uber or Careem - my phone is on the Zain network and with those two I'm almost never out of range. When the POTUS was visiting his entourage gobbled up the STC bandwidth, so I used my phone's Zain connection as a hotspot. Having both is definitely useful sometimes.

Plenty of time for reading and watching movies, especially when the temperature outside is knocking on 50°C. Shocked
Gyms are certainly prevalent in the cities - the ones I've been in - and also some universities have decent facilities Wink
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teachertomthailand



Joined: 31 Aug 2015
Posts: 19
Location: Boston, USA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am American and my wife is Chinese. She needs to stay in the US until she gets her US citizenship in about a year and a half. I have asked her to join me in KSA at that time but she has some concerns about how restricted her life would be there. She is not wild about having to wear a burka and she thinks she will have to stay home all day and not go out. She was a doctor in China and the idea of staying home all the time is very boring for her. So I said to her "why don't you just come and just try being in KSA and see if you like it?" She does have positive associations with KSA, she knows doctors who have worked there and earned enough money to come back to China and buy a Mercedes Benz and indeed the job I am applying for will pay twice as much as my job in China.

I would appreciate any suggestions on how to deal with this dilemma. Has anyone here tried to bring their wife or girlfriend there? Are there any women on here who have taught in KSA that could describe how to navigate the restrictions there?
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 10951
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

teachertomthailand wrote:
I would appreciate any suggestions on how to deal with this dilemma. Has anyone here tried to bring their wife or girlfriend there? Are there any women on here who have taught in KSA that could describe how to navigate the restrictions there?

For starters, no one takes their "girlfriend" to ultra-conservative KSA. Mixing between unmarried/unrelated members of the opposite sex is not allowed and is a deportable offense.

I managed just fine as a single female in KSA including wearing the abaya (cloak) and hijab (hair scarf) but no niqab (face covering) -- "burqas" aren't required. However, Saudi Arabia was the third Mid East country I'd lived in and I speak some Arabic. Plus, I look like I could be from the MENA.

Frankly, no one can say how your wife would personally handle a restrictive environment. She'll have to figure that out on her own. Rather than this ESL job discussion board, I suggest she check out the numerous general expat forums on the Net which have a broader audience. Google expat forum saudi and chinese saudi expat forum.
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In the heat of the moment



Joined: 22 May 2015
Posts: 276
Location: SAUDI ARABIA

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

She won't know for sure until she tries, but if she's of a mind that all Saudi men treat their women like chattels and house staff much worse then she shouldn't even bother trying.

nomad soul, things are progressing in the Kingdom, I've asked expat and Saudi colleagues and Saudi students just who would arrest you if you went for dinner with an unrelated member of the opposite sex. No one could give me an answer, although all thought it a bad idea. I don't think many people here have asked that question themselves after the Muttawa were declawed, it'll be interesting when the majority wake up to the new reality here. Maybe if the cinemas are mixed people will start to.
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