The Middle East traditionally encompasses countries or regions in Western Asia and parts of North Africa. This fascinating part of the world is a real hot spot for International teachers, and if you consider for a moment the climate, lifestyle, tax-free benefits and fabulous beaches you can certainly understand why. For the discerning teacher there are a hundred and one Middle Eastern delights, which are bound to intrigue and satisfy those looking for such an opportunity.
Life in The Middle East can be an experience rich in diversity and teachers are able to offer teachers can be enjoyable experience on the doorstep of many old civilisations. This can offer a fabulous backdrop for those teachers interested in ancient history and wanting to spend their time exploring the cultural landscape. The Middle East can also be a superb outdoor playground for the sports enthusiast or an opulent shopping paradise in the desert. This region is truly a mixed bag, but for many, the real lure is often the opportunity to build a lucrative income whilst living in the sun!
Schools in the Middle East
All schools are different ranging from the profit to non-profit, from the private to the government owned. When you decide to step over to The Middle East, you need to think well about what type of school you will chose.
Many of the private schools are excellent and although they are owned and managed by Middle Eastern nationals, the majority all have British Head teachers. You will also discover that many of the large Oil companies have their own schools, such as Qatar Petroleum, which cater for the children of employees working for them.
Most schools are new and purpose built and reflect well the Middle Eastern lifestyle. The teaching year is very much reflective of the UK with the same holiday structure. You will find your working week slightly different as Friday is a Muslim holy day and most workweeks run Saturday though to Wednesday or Sunday through to Thursday. A teachers school day usually start at around 7am and goes through to around 2pm, although this does vary with country and school.
Culture / traditions
The Middle East is built on a magnificent legacy of civilizations dating back to ancient times. The Middle East makes a wealthy contribution to world culture is home to three major world religions, a vibrant entertainment industry, a fascinating tradition of folkloric music and dance, and is a growing economic power base. As a teacher living there, you respect the fact that you are living within a Muslim country, therefore adhere to the religions and cultural rules of the country you live in.
The Arab States of The Persian Gulf can offer varying degrees of lifestyle. Amongst this group are Kingdoms of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Sultanate of Oman, Emirates of Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. If you chose to live in Saudi Arabia you'll adhere to strict Muslim principles in your lifestyle such as Islamic dietary restrictions and the Islamic principles of modesty (dress). Although you will live within a compound with other ex-patriots where a more western style of lifestyle can be found. These compounds can be very luxurious with numerous shops, swimming pools and entertainment opportunities. On the other hand, you can chose to live in more relaxed places such as Dubai, Egypt or Oman where you are able to live a relatively western existence.
The schools offer:
• Furnished accommodation
• Medical cover
• Very generous tax-free salaries
• Baggage allowance
• Membership to sports clubs
• Addition benefits depending on school and location
• Free education for teacher’s children can be given
Schools in The Middle East are looking for teachers to sign for a two-year contract with the strong possibility of extension after the completion of the first contract.
Remember to be discerning. Many new schools are opening all the time and so for a teacher looking to The Middle East, it is easy to feel unsure about which direction to head toward. We advise all teachers to investigate schools well and find out as much as you can about those you are interested in.
Use the Internet resources and don’t hesitate to ask the Head teacher or the schools recruitment for email addresses of teachers currently teaching at the school. By doing this you can get an unbiased view on the school and life in that particular country.
Look and see if the school belongs to organisations such as the BSME or COBIS. By doing this you can guarantee that the school is reputable and part of a wider network of British Schools, which aim to uphold correct standards and procedures.
As a teacher you have not only a gift of education to share, but you have a tool to travel the globe with. Wherever you go and whichever culture you immerse yourself in, the experience will become the very fabric of your being.