Teaching English in UAE

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ESL Tate
I have been an ESL Teacher for more than 15 years and a Teacher trainer for the last three. Now I help new teachers start their journey traveling and teaching English abroad.
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You can expect jobs in UAE to include:
worksheets
Start: August
daily to do calendar
Contract: 2 years
activities and ideas
Medical: Provided

Teaching in the UAE presents a whole new adventure of its own. Sand dunes, Nissan Patrols, Lexus driving too fast, speed cameras, brunches and crazy parties are what many new teachers are in for. Welcome to UAE, where modernity intermixes with tradition in a way that amazes many visitors.

In this article we will talk about some pertinent information for those who may want to be or are already teaching in the United Arab Emirates. Plus questions and answers from a current Teacher who recently signed up for a great adventure in Dubai. Let’s take look at the job market in the United Arab Emirates:

Job details in United Arab Emirates at a glance

Available jobs

Public schools; private language institutions; universities

Visa Requirements

TEFL (or equivalent); bachelor’s degree; passport from an English-speaking country

Monthly Living Expenses

$1,500-$2,000 (with rent) depending on which emirate one chooses

Monthly Teaching Salary

$1,500-$6,000

Peak Hiring Months

Year-round; but mostly August to November

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Many come to the UAE and get hooked on the lifestyle and the tradition mixed with modern way of living while embedded in the cultural mindset of the bedouin. That is, you get a balance of tradition and modernity that sometimes seems light years ahead while certain times one feel like they are stuck in a certain past. 

The passport means everything here and nationalities known around the world live well and receive higher salaries. That means, any English speaking country tends to get preferential treatment after the local inhabitants. 

At the same time, salaries are high but expectations to put in the work for that salary are high. Living cost is modest outside of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The rest of the Emirates are much more affordable in terms of housing and sometimes cost of food. 

What’s needed to Teach in UAE

  • Aged between 18 to 50
  • Fluent English speaker (preferably from a Native Speaking Country)
  • Completed High School
  • TEFL qualified (see promos here)
  • Culturally sensitive (very important)
  • Clean mental and physical health
  • No criminal record

Keep in mind again:

Start Date
August
Contract Length
Usually 2 years
Accommodation
Public schools: No; Private school: Usually


Depending on whether your application is received via recruiter or directly on our job board, you’ll will be contacted. One of our job admins will then contact you for documents to accompany your application.

Once all documents are submitted, they are reviewed, and if all is in order, an interview is scheduled either via Skype or a phone.

The interviewer will then get in touch to let you know when are if an adventure awaits you in the United Arab Emirates. 

application process

Once you have accepted an offer, you will be informed which airport to fly into. Flight is covered. It is either booked for you on an agreed upon date or booked for you and you are reimbursed.

There are seven Emirates: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quain and Ras Al Khaimah. You will likely fly into Abu Dhabi since it’s the capital city.

Most visas are processed through Abu Dhabi immigration office but some are done in Dubai. Upon arrival in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, a bus or private driver will be waiting to take you to your final location of the job. 

Bring spending money for a few weeks or a month; sometimes even more. There have been teachers who have had to wait two months for documents to be completed before getting paid. This is a fact that is sometimes overlooked but very important. And having been here for 7 years and train a lot of the teachers, most say they were not aware of the fact that it might take a month or two to be paid.


A few things that are essential to save you headache time and money:

  • Attest documents: degree, marriage certificate (if married), children birth certificate (if bringing family) and any other important government document that might be needed. 
  • Police check: Not necessary for UAE but some private schools require it and it is done before hand.
  • Health check: Teachers are sometimes asked to provide a health statement; however, if you work for public school, that is done here. The process is straight forward and simple. 
  • Vaccines: Consult your doctor if there are any vaccines needed for UAE.
  • Budget: Spending money for your first five weeks or more plus excursions etc 
  • Visa cost: covered by employer usually, if you pay in advance for it, you are reimbursed. 
  • Insurance: You may obtain travel insurance but medical and dental is covered by most schools both public and private. 

There is lots to do in the United Arab Emirates. From Dubai, Abu Dhabi and in between. There is a plethora of things to see and do. The food is exquisite, the locals are generally very nice and welcoming. The weather is great during Winter and camping in the desert is a treat. 

Spend some time in Jumeirah and explore the beautiful scenery. Make your way to Sharjah, Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah for great food. There is Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Japanese, Philipino, African food and so much more. 

Take your adventure to new heights with great food and lots of adventure that teaching English in the United Arab Emirates brings. 


Resources

The most important websites and apps that will help you find almost everything you will need.

  1. Entertainer (food discount – paid)
  2. Dubizzle (buy and sell classifieds etc – property rental/sale) top app
  3. Bayut 
  4. Blueground
  5. Get That
  6. Waze Navigation app (a must for speed cameras)
  7. Just Property
  8. Property Finder

What are teachers on the field saying?

We like to talk to a few teachers on the job to answer pressing questions, give tips and further help potential teachers and travelers about what is it like living and working in UAE.

What is/was your motivation for going to the UAE?

There are 3 main reasons for moving to the UAE – I have always wanted to work/live abroad – the UAE being a preference because of the lifestyle and having friends and family here, it is a place I have always enjoyed visiting. Money – the salary is good and it enables me to give my son a far better quality of life than what I could offer in the UK. Fresh start – sometimes you just need to start over.

Knowing what you know now, would your decision to go to the UAE change, why or why not?

No my decision would not change but I would be more prepared than I was in certain aspects for example the paperwork requirements and ensuring that I had more money than the recommend amount from the recruitment agency.
Did you have that moment and realized, holy crap, what am I doing? What happened?
100% on more than one occasion but sat here 10 weeks in it all seems like a distant memory.
Everything in the UAE requires a Emirates ID, these take time (mine even longer as it was temporarily lost) you loose your head on a number of occasions whilst waiting for this. When you remember that process and procedures are different here, having OCD is not an option, you learn to just ride the wave – everything falls in place eventually I am prove of that.
You are not here to change the world, you are here for the lifestyle 🙂
What is the one sentence or word you have to know in Arabic and what does it mean? Please spell in English!
insha’allah – god willing. It means it will happen – eventually.
What should you definitely bring to the UAE with you that you can’t find here?
Zoflora

What difficulties have you experienced here and how did you overcome them?

Obtaining my Emirates ID – due to it being misplaced in the MOE office, was recommended a contact who was very helpful and located it.

Obtaining the basics to do my job – laptop, oracle number, login – waiting for them to be received and keeping my managers informed of the status. It does make the job more challenging.

Being paid – I was aware of a 2 month delay but this is currently sat at 3 months, luckily I have financial support from my family.

What is an experience you have had here that you would like to share?

Schooling for my 3yo son.

Firstly I had to decide if to put him in nursery or straight into school, as I wanted to take my time employing a maid I decided to go down the nursery route. I did some research into various nurseries and decided to look for one in close proximity to my school as I wasn’t sure where I was living at this point but wanted to get him into a routine as soon as possible. I decided to go with a British Curriculum EYFS programme as he had already has some pre school in the UK and it was a going to be a huge culture shock so I wanted to minimize uncertainty where I could. Another important factor was that they taught Arabic as he is at a prime age to develop new language skills.

A number of the nursery’s were run down and operated in a very unorganized way and I didn’t get a good vibe from the place, it is important to look at as many as you can and you soon get a feel for them upon visiting. I selected Little Leaders and he has adjusted well, making new friends and settling into nursery life.
What is the most interesting food you have tried and love and one you don’t care to have again?
Umm ali – bread pudding.

There is not a food that I have tried that I don’t like.

What is your favorite place in your Emirate/city and why?

Ajman – City Centre Mall – everything you could need in a mall but not to large and Sultan Saray (restaurant on the Corniche) amazing food and setting.

RAK – Marjan Island – amazing sunsets and everything you could want on hand. Beaches/pools/parks and SALT!
What do you miss most about home that you don’t have in UAE?
Friends & Family
Green hills
Fresh air

Any advice for newcomers or anything else you would like to add?

Just go for it, it will be a rollercoaster but if you have the ability to ride the wave it will be worth it.

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