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Is the ME really worth it these days?
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Unheard Utterance



Joined: 02 Aug 2018
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:18 pm    Post subject: Is the ME really worth it these days? Reply with quote

As someone who's never worked in the ME, I can only base my assumptions on second-hand knowledge from colleagues who've worked there before and from reading forums such as this.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but generally speaking, would the following assumptions be true?

Wages have stagnated or even decreased;
The students are unmotivated, argumentative and entitled;
Cushy oil jobs are few and far between;
The torment of living in the ME with a lack of alcohol and other vices is simply not worth the money being paid;
Many teachers in the ME are somewhat odd and not in a good way.

I'm a long-term Asia vet who's in need of a change; it would be nice to put my head down for ten years and retire in Thailand.

Non-related BA, Delta, CELTA are the quals; done pretty much everything in relation to EFL.

Stay in Asia or head to the ME?
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 17604
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say that your summary is pretty accurate with the exception that alcohol is available for foreign non-Muslims everywhere there but Saudi and Kuwait. And most people who really want it in those two manage to get it and/or make their own.

Unless you have some interest in the Middle East, the high pay of the past is pretty much gone (competition for the better jobs left is very high... and end up with those with direct Middle East experience).

I'd stay in Asia... better the devil you know...

VS
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11373
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unheard Utterance wrote:
The torment of living in the ME with a lack of alcohol and other vices is simply not worth the money being paid.
....
Stay in Asia or head to the ME?

This is a no-brainer: Stay in Asia if those activities rank high on your must-have list.

Be aware that quals obtained via online study are not accepted in the majority of the Gulf. Plus, an unrelated degree (even with a Delta) isn't likely to net you the better direct-hire work.
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 942
Location: Temburong, Brunei

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
Unheard Utterance wrote:
The torment of living in the ME with a lack of alcohol and other vices is simply not worth the money being paid.
....
Stay in Asia or head to the ME?

This is a no-brainer: Stay in Asia if those activities rank high on your must-have list.


Uh huh. If you're a heavy drinker [not saying that the OP is] then you will likely be better off in Asia. I met a couple of those in Oman and it's almost like watching Peter being robbed to pay Paul. They went to the bars every night/every other night and the decent money they were making was effectively being siphoned away on high booze prices. I honestly think, financially, they would probably have been better off in a country like Vietnam, where, admittedly, the pay isn't as good but, then again, you can easily buy a beer for fifty cents.
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Unheard Utterance



Joined: 02 Aug 2018
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your replies, but, I must say, I think you've jumped on the alcohol thing a bit.

No, I'm not an alcoholic. I do enjoy a single malt after dinner 3-4 times a week, as in, one small glass. I have lived in Vietnam, and I did do the 25 cent beer thing for a few months, but it does get old rather quickly.

I suppose I should have put "outdoor activities" instead of alcohol, but so be it.

Yes, I think it's a case of "better the devil you know" and stay in Asia, but if a military job arises and the timing it right, I might just go for it in the ME.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11373
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unheard Utterance wrote:
Yes, I think it's a case of "better the devil you know" and stay in Asia, but if a military job arises and the timing it right, I might just go for it in the ME.

If you've already decided the Gulf is an option despite all the negatives you listed, then what was the purpose of this thread? Confused
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 17604
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unheard Utterance wrote:
I suppose I should have put "outdoor activities" instead of alcohol, but so be it.

Yes, I think it's a case of "better the devil you know" and stay in Asia, but if a military job arises and the timing it right, I might just go for it in the ME.

Outdoor activities can be pretty restricted for more than half the year because of the extreme heat.

No reason not to apply if you see something related to your experience, just check the employer carefully... probably here first. Many of the contractor related jobs are pretty bad.

VS
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 942
Location: Temburong, Brunei

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In that case, my advice for Unheard Utterance would be to give the Gulf a go. I personally prefer Asia, but, I don't regret my two years working in Oman. When I had my fill of Arabia then the Orient was still there. Besides, even it doesn't work out, at least you can say you tried it for yourself. I was able to bank away a tidy sum while I was it as well Cool.
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Unheard Utterance



Joined: 02 Aug 2018
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1st Sgt Welsh wrote:
In that case, my advice for Unheard Utterance would be to give the Gulf a go. I personally prefer Asia, but, I don't regret my two years working in Oman. When I had my fill of Arabia then the Orient was still there. Besides, even it doesn't work out, at least you can say you tried it for yourself. I was able to bank away a tidy sum while I was it as well Cool.


Hello Sgt Welsh. Oman is indeed on my list. Even though I'd like to settle down soon, I do have an urge to give the ME a go and Oman is certainly one place I'd like to experience for a year or two; possibly longer.

I'd only go if I found a quality Military English job as I doubt I'd get a decent job without a Masters teaching in other contexts.

I was just putting some feelers out. My impression of EFL as a whole is that it's become very competitive and more and more people are realising that a CELTA and non-related BA are not going to get you far. Even once lucrative and difficult places like the ME are not nearly as good as they once were.
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 942
Location: Temburong, Brunei

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unheard Utterance wrote:


I'd only go if I found a quality Military English job as I doubt I'd get a decent job without a Masters teaching in other contexts.

I was just putting some feelers out. My impression of EFL as a whole is that it's become very competitive and more and more people are realising that a CELTA and non-related BA are not going to get you far. Even once lucrative and difficult places like the ME are not nearly as good as they once were.


Depends how you define "decent". I just had a BA (Hons), a CELTA and about five years' experience when I got my job at the CAS in Salalah. This allowed me to save quite a bit and experience the Gulf. I've got no regrets. I'm on a better package now, but, then again, I'm expected to work a damn sight harder than what I was in Oman. Like I said, if you want to try it, I'd advise giving it a go. If it doesn't work out then the Orient will still be there and at least you can say you've experienced it for yourself.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1606
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:03 am    Post subject: hmmm Reply with quote

OK, here's my 10p's worth. I have worked in Libya, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi and the UAE. My advice is this:
-Always try and be direct-hire because most contracting agencies are just that. They care about timesheets and attendance and not upsetting the client
-Avoid the places where you can't have a semblance of normal life. If you enjoy eating out, the odd drink and having company of the opposite sex (and your a guy), stick to more liberal places like UAE and Qatar. I've never worked in Oman but I like the place. Not sure the salaries are all that though.
-There's no such thing as a cushy oil gig (I've spent 20 years doing these). They can be very well paid but the students are generally entitled, unsackable and not up for being taught or told what to do. The local managers can be micromanagers and rarely have a background in training.
-Lots of people who teach in the Gulf aren't very nice. There are a lot of 45-60 -year-olds who are long in the tooth, very protective of their jobs, in some cases plain weird and generally not very sociable.
- The money these days is going down and the cost of living is pretty mad. Saudi is still pretty cheap but you have to live there.
- I'm under 50 and leaving this region for good soon. Only you can make the call but the golden days are over. I'm the last 'teacher' left in my oil company and I'm not in the classroom anymore. All the rotations I've ever known about are over bar 1 in a war zone (I spent years there). Forget the oil and gas gigs. I think Saudi Aramco is the only 1 left in town. There are still some OK military gigs. Forget schools in the ME, they won't pay you enough for it to be worth it. Some of the uni gigs are good but a lot aren't so choose carefully.
-Living in the Middle East is much easier if you're not single.


Last edited by dragonpiwo on Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 458
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would agree with dragonpiwo, and would add that the university jobs are going downhill fast.

In the UAE, for example, UAEU, has just recently introduced finger print clocking-in, upped the contact hours by 25 to 50% with no extra pay, extended the academic year by 6 to 8 weeks with no extra pay, and started allocating classes from a whole mix of courses, all the while eroding benefits - especially school fees.

Rumour has it that when contract renewal takes place, an intermediary body will take over, forcing staff to take a pay cut of around 20%.

At the meeting where the changes were announced, the Vice Chancellor declared somewhat bizarrely that the world was queuing up to work at his institution. The exodus that is taking place would suggest his current staff don’t share his high opinion of the place.

The only good news is that the power-junkie that was temporarily in charge of the Foundation program has at last had her wings clipped and been sent back to the classroom.

Meanwhile, VAT of 5% was introduced in Jan 2018, opening the logistical door for effortless increases to a target of between 15 and 20%. If you like a tiple now and then, for example, a £5 bottle of wine from a shop in the UK that used to cost £10 in the UAE before the summer now costs £13. And to support the locals’ tea-drinking, government ‘jobs’, increases in the charges for services show no sign of slowing. Car registration doubled overnight (car insurance trebled).
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 458
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should add that any future replacements of departing EFL staff at UAEU will still find the package appealing.

Even with the slashing of the summer holidays down from 11 to 5 weeks, a 20% pay-cut, 24+ contact hours, and 4 hours a week in student services, for most EFL teachers, $4,250/4,500 + housing + health + flights represents a solid package.

For a single person, or childless teaching couple who are willing to put their shoulder to the grindstone to repair their financial position, there is still great opportunity for saving - but bear in mind that the conditions are no longer conducive for long term stays.

The wheels have been coming off the gravy train for a while now. The slowest train crash in history has finally played itself out. Having said that, EFL teachers in the UAE have long been overrated and over-paid. At UAEU, they get the same, if not more than some PhD holders in faculty. They benefited from the fact that they were often the only western expats at an institution. But those days are long gone.
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Unheard Utterance



Joined: 02 Aug 2018
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks people for the (mostly) informative input.

I guess I'll have to do some more research, but it seems that I'm talking myself out of or being talked out of a sojourn to the ME. I may go as a tourist in the future, but the students do sound rather annoying and demanding on the whole, and the money may very well not be worth it in the end. Especially somewhere like Saudi Arabia.
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EFL Educator



Joined: 17 Jul 2013
Posts: 974
Location: Cape Town

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To The OP

Seems everyone I know who is a native English speaker is heading to China these days.....ASIA'S LAST EFL Frontier......except for 20 + or 30 something year old Brit and American Muslim converts who will always head to the Middle East in search of work in Arabia! Shocked
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