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Teach English in Saudi Arabia

Teach English in Saudi Arabia

Why teach English in Saudi Arabia...

Tax-free salaries, amazing weather and stunning deserts make Saudi Arabia a popular place to teach English.

Unless you're extremely lucky or well-connected, to teach English in Saudi Arabia you'll need to have some kind of previous teaching experience. Plus, as salaries are so high, so are the qualification requirements. You'll need a degree and a level 5 TEFL qualification such as the CELTA, EDICertTEFL or TrinityCertTESOL.

It's great for TEFL teachers because...

There is a high demand for English teachers in Saudi as the high salaries and low cost of living appeals to a broad range of potential TEFL teachers. Competition for teaching jobs is therefore fierce! It's also worth noting that it can be very difficult for women to find a teaching job, and if they do, adjusting to life in Saudi Arabia can be challenging. The majority of opportunities are in high schools and Universities, and male teachers will only be able to teach male students, and female students can only teach other females. Teaching English in Saudi Arabia is a unique cultural experience and a great opportunity to learn about Middle Eastern life and Islamic traditions.

All you need to teach in Saudi Arabia is...

You need a degree to teach English in Saudi Arabia, and a minimum of a level 5 EDI TEFL Qualification. Due to the competition, you're unlikely to get a position unless you have previous experience of teaching English abroad.

Average Monthly Teaching Salary

11,275 SAR / £1,950 / $3,500

Free Teaching English in Saudi Arabia Guide

Guide to Teaching English in Saudi Arabia

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Basic Info

  • Language: Arabic
  • Currency: Saudi Riyal (SAR)
  • Population: 28.8 million
  • Capital City: Riyadh

Cost of Living

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The cost of living in Saudi is very low, and coupled with the high salaries that you can expect teaching English, many teachers save a significant amount of money. Generally, people who teach for a year or two in Saudi Arabia leave with over £25,000/$35,000 in savings.

If you're teaching in Saudi Arabia, it's highly likely that you'll be living in a secure, fenced-off compound with other English teachers and expats. You won't need to consider the cost of rent as most schools include accommodation as part of their overall benefits package. Most teachers receive a 2 or 3 bedroom, clean and modern house in a complex with western amenities like a gym and a pool.

When comparing prices to average earnings, the cost of food is quite cheap, with a leg of lamb costing around £5/$7 and a 500g bag of coffee £1/$1.50.

If you can't wait to go out and party in a new country, then Saudi Arabia definitely isn't for you - it's illegal to drink or even have alcohol with you, and if the police find you with it, you could be imprisoned. Western nightlife is non-existent - you won't find bars, clubs, or even cinemas as they have all been banned. However, you will be able to enjoy a nice meal in a restaurant for only £2/$4, and within the gated communities, life is somewhat more relaxed.

Food and Drink

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Saudi Arabian food is very spicy and flavoursome, and despite beef and pork being forbidden for religious reasons, there are many chicken and lamb dishes to enjoy. A much-loved dish in Saudi Arabia is Kapsa, which is essentially roasted chicken served with saffron rice, and this is often served at lunch as the main meal of the day. Pita bread is served as a side order with almost everything, and hummus (chickpeas, garlic and lemon) is often served alongside it. Saudi Arabians will often have mezze's in the evening, which can be up to 40 dishes in total! Although most TEFL teachers report enjoying the food in Saudi they do miss sweet food (particularly chocolate) as this is not a big part of the Middle Eastern culture.

Alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but you can make like the Saudi's and visit one of the many coffee houses in the evening and enjoy a mug of Arabic coffee, with saffron and cardamom added for extra flavour. An alternative if you don't like coffee, is a cup of creamy Laban, which is essentially fermented milk, but when referred to as 'buttermilk', it sounds a lot more appealing!

Weather

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Saudi Arabia is a desert country with no natural lakes or rivers, and is home to the largest sand-desert - Rub al-Khali, translated to 'empty quarter' - covering 250,000 square miles. This means that it hardly ever rains in Saudi Arabia, and temperatures are scorching year-round at 45 degrees Celsius in summer, and 20 in the winter, so there's no need to be taking any winter clothes with you when you head off to teach English in Saudi Arabia!

Accommodation

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As mentioned in the cost of living section, most expats live together in modern, gated compounds provided by their TEFL employers; and with people in professions such as teachers, military or engineers, they are generally wealthy. Compounds tend to be very well-equipped with a pool, a tennis court, restaurants and libraries.

Where could I teach English in Saudi Arabia?

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The three most popular places to teach English in Saudi Arabia are Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, as the larger populations mean there are more schools and international businesses. This means that there is also more money and your students will likely be from the Saudi elite. The teaching week also varies a little in Saudi as most schools will be open from Saturday to Wednesday and your hours will be relatively low at around 20 hours per week.

As the school year runs from August to June in the main cities, it's also important to consider the peak teaching recruitment months. Most schools hire in February and the process is understandably fairly lengthy, so you'll need to make sure you're TEFL qualified in adequate time.

If you would prefer to be in an area popular with other teachers, then the cosmopolitan city of Jeddah is the best option. Home to some beautiful beaches, be sure to check out Jeddah Corniche, with shops and café's lining the bay. The cuisine in Jeddah is known as the best in the country, with locals eating out numerous times a week! For a true Saudi experience, round off the evening with a cup of coffee and a game of cards in one of the many late-night café's.

Transportation

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In the city

Saudi Arabia is a desert country with no natural lakes or rivers, and is home to the largest sand-desert - Rub al-Khali, translated to 'empty quarter' - covering 250,000 square miles. This means that it hardly ever rains in Saudi Arabia, and temperatures are scorching year-round at 45 degrees Celsius in summer, and 20 in the winter, so there's no need to be taking any winter clothes with you when you head off to teach English in Saudi Arabia!

Further afield

Flights are preferable when travelling in the Middle East, and with your TEFL salary, you can certainly afford that bit extra: when comparing the bus from Riyadh to Dammam to the plane ride, the 12 hour ride is cut down to 1 hour for just £50/$80 return! You can also fly further afield to Dubai for £160/$255 return, with a flight time of 2 hours.

Insider Tips

In public, as a female teacher, you will be treated very differently than in western societies. You won't be allowed to speak to men in the streets, you won't be able to sit with men in restaurants, café's and other social settings; and you'll only be allowed to teach female students.

Be sure to visit the Al Musmak Castle in Riyadh, which was constructed during the reign of King Abdulaziz in the 13th century. Entry is free, and you'll get to learn lots about the history of Saudi Arabia!

Compound living is quite different than life outside the compound. Inside the compound females can drive and will not be required to wear the Abaya.

Get the Guide

If you're keen to find out more about teaching in Saudi Arabia then you'll want to check out the i-to-i TEFL free guide. You'll find out loads more useful information on finding your first job, where you can teach and how to negotiate the best salary package.

Get your free guide to teaching English in Saudi Arabia now
Guide to Teaching English in Saudi Arabia