Teaching in Saudi Arabia


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and home to about 28 million people. Due to its huge oil reserves, Saudi Arabia is a fabulously wealthy country and has a lot of clout in the world economy. Being a very business oriented country, the government has a real eye to the West and an excellent infrastructure in place for bringing in the best foreign professionals possible. Arabic is the sole official language but due to the number of Western companies based in the country, English is also widely spoken. The capital city, Riyadh, is located quite centrally and an excellent starting point for exploring and teaching in Saudi Arabia, being a real combination of old and new society.

Saudi Arabia is ruled absolutely by its Royal Family and under Sharia (Islamic) law. Life here is certainly very different to what you may be used to a Western country such as the UK, but if you are afraid of change, you should probably stay at home instead. Sharia law can be very strict and many overseas workers find this a quite difficult factor in terms of adjusting to teaching in Saudi Arabia. On the flipside, crime rates are very low and you can generally go about your business in a very safe environment.

There are so many foreign workers based in Riyadh that international schools are commonplace. Many schools only accept the children of overseas workers and so despite teaching in Saudi Arabia, you may well find yourself faced only with students from Europe and North America. It also means that the children you will be teaching abroad will be from quite well-off backgrounds and therefore really quite well-behaved and attentive.

Jeddah is another popular destination for overseas teachers; located on the Red Sea in the west of the country, the city has a population of around 3.5 million and is a major commercial centre. The city has a very cosmopolitan mix of citizens both local and foreign and is particularly noted for its excellent cafes, restaurants and shopping opportunities. Accommodation for overseas professionals and teachers in Saudi Arabia is almost certainly to be within an exclusive compound. These compounds tend to be modern, comfortable and have all of the facilities you would hope for. Teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia are generally very well paid and you can lead a very comfortable life there.

As with virtually all of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has a very hot climate with average annual temperatures of around 27°C. More than half the year sees average highs of well over 30°C but all modern accommodation, schools and businesses have very good air conditioning. Relocating to a different country and climate can require some time to adjust, but after a while you will settle into the local way of doing things and find a knack of staying cool. Many people choose to socialise late into the evening when it becomes cooler and more comfortable; again, this is something you will get used to after a short while.

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