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What is it like to teach in the UAE?

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Joined: 30 Jun 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:32 am    Post subject: What is it like to teach in the UAE? Reply with quote

My wife and I are currently teaching in Japan, but we are looking at teaching in the UAE in the near future. We are interested in hearing about the experiences of other expats who have taught in the UAE before we make our decision. We have a few questions:

1. What is the cost of living like? We know the pay is high, but what about daily expenses like food (eating out and cooking in), transportation, going out, etc? Is it possible to save money here?

2. What is it like living in a culture that is highly divided along gender lines? Does it effect how you operate on a daily basis? Do women have to cover themselves in public? Are you always expected to operate within their cultural norms or are they understanding of cultural differences? We are especially interested in hearing from the women on this one.

3. Dubai vs. Abu Dhabi. Which city is better? Which other locations in the UAE are cool?

4. What is the quality of life? Is it extremely boring or exciting? Can you afford to go out? Is alcohol illegal?

5. Does anybody know of any blogs written by teachers in the UAE?

6. Has anybody heard anything about ESL positions in Masdar, the UAE's new green city? We might be a little early for this one.

We really appreciate any advice you guys have. If anyone wants to know anything about ESL teaching in Japan, Cambodia, or NYC, we are more than happy to help you out.
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Joined: 07 Jul 2009
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:01 pm    Post subject: Working in Dubai Reply with quote

Hi, I'm interested in all the same questions.

I wanted to tell you that I have an old high school friend who just moved to Peru from working in Dubai (I believe or Abu Dahbi) for the past few years with her husband.

You can contact me (or send me your contact info) and I will ask her if she's open to sharing some valuable information to us. :)

I'm currently in Korea.

Whereabouts are you in Japan? Have you been able to save there ? (having two people is such a plus to only one though). I might go there next, or Dubai, or Taiwan if I don't go to S America (where I won't save any money or be able to pay debts).


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Joined: 31 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:16 am    Post subject: Teaching in Japan Reply with quote

I'm interested in teaching in Japan and I have lots of questions for you!
Are you teaching English, and what suggestions do you have for finding teaching jobs in Japan?

Also, how did you locate your job? Would you recommend this for single women?

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Joined: 25 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are private schools and institutes and also private lessons among the expat community. Teaching is general English along with ESP (military/business/academic) and the salary can be good and commensurate with your qualifications. Minimum qualifications are a degree and TEFL Cert.

Classes tend to be noisy (though not unruly) and used to traditional teaching methods rather than more student-centered approaches. Oh, and it may be more trying for female teachers with male students.

More about TEFL in the UAE.
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St. George

Joined: 06 Oct 2004
Posts: 110
Location: Ex Libya

PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:10 pm    Post subject: Dubai Reply with quote

All of your stress will come from working closely with the natives, when teaching. However, I wouldn't recommend female teachers teaching males as they can be very forward and intimidating.

Nevertheless, both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are very westernized and so you can do all the things you do at home but it is just more expensive to do so. The exception to this, are taxis, which are very cheap.

I prefer Abu Dhabi to Dubai because it is not so commercialized and it is only an hour's drive from Dubai.
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Joined: 31 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:10 pm    Post subject: Working in the UAE Reply with quote

Sorry, I'm not sure where you are writing from but it is always best to check online at your Foreign Affairs and International Trade govt website to see if any notices or warnings are posted about your intended destination. On the Canadian govt website as it had a section called "A Woman's Guide to safe travel." It has information about cultural awareness and blending in (a big part of safety) as well as many tips, helpful phone numbers for legal and health matters and anecdotes from other travellers. The most important thing they emphasized is respecting and knowing the countries' laws and observing their social mores in order to avoid problems. Also, visit chat rooms, just google your questions in a search engine to start.

Best of luck
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Joined: 30 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Japan and New York Reply with quote

Thanks for the info.

We've been in Japan for about 4 months, and we live in a pretty rural area. There's not much night life here, but I know there is in the larger cities. In our area you can go to Izakaya (like a bar and grill) or karaoke. There is a huge, modern mall with everything you would find in the States.

The biggest difficulty is communication. We don't speak very much Japanese and most of the locals here either don't speak English or are too shy to try. Again, this probably wouldn't be as much of a problem in Tokyo or Osaka. The students are used to Japanese teaching methods, so it can be difficult at first, but they eventually get used to and start to appreciate the student centered approach.

The other source of tension is that Japan is a fairly conformist society and have a long history of distrusting foreigners. Be prepared to feel like an outsider on a daily basis. People are always (very) polite and kind, but it's difficult to feel as though you are truly welcome here.

We work at an ekaiwa, or a private school. We teach a lot of different levels and age groups groups, and we don't get a lot of guidance or information about the students to start with. It can be a little challenging and frustrating at first if you're used to teaching a consistent group, so be sure to be flexible if you're going to teach at the private schools. There can also be a lot of driving involved if you teach a lot of company classes, but luckily we don't have too much of that.

The pay is good here and we are able to save a lot of money, but that is largely due to the fact that there is nothing to do here. If you live in a city your life will be more interesting, but the trade off is that it is really hard to save money. We're also able to save money because we rent our apartment through the school at a reduced rate. If you're going to search for an apartment on own, be aware that many apartments here require 3-months rent in advance and things can get expensive quickly.

Japan is still largely a cash economy, and pay is once a month so be sure to have enough cash to survive for the first month when you arrive. You can often buy groceries on a credit card, but you it's rare that you can buy dinner at a restaurant or use it at of any smaller shops.

As for teaching in NY, I taught at an adult language school with longer-term students from all over the world. The classes were really open-minded and the students were forced to speak in English due to the fact that their partner didn't necessarily speak the same language as they did. This opened up a lot of really interesting possibilities for discussions. I loved teaching there.

Living in NY can be difficult on a daily basis though, and rent is HIGH. It can be difficult to make enough money to make ends meet, and there's a lot of daily stress involved with getting around and dealing with people. If the rent seems too good to be true, it is. You're either really really far away from central Manhattan or you're in a poor or dangerous neighborhood.

Some people thrive there and just love it. There's always something going on, there's a live music scene for just about any genre, there're art scenes, green scenes, and so much delicious food. It's truly a cultural capital and statistically the most diverse place on the planet. That said, we found it difficult live in NY and specifically to be an artist there (musician) because the market is huge and saturated and expenses are high. For us, the city was too big and impersonal of a city (we do like cities), and after 2 years the daily stress eventually caused us to leave. The only thing to say is that some people love it, others learn to hate it.
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Joined: 03 May 2012
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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 12:19 pm    Post subject: TEACH AND LIVE IN ABU DHABI UAE Reply with quote


A TEFL job in the United Arab Emirates is a fantastic way to live overseas and get paid to travel the world! There are lots of good deals with local airlines (e.g. Emirates, Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, Etihad etc) to travel to the nearest places. As for me, having worked in the UAE for about 3 years, I have travelled to Maldives, Sri Lanka, Africa, Lebanon, Iran, Nepal, Thailand, Oman, Qatar, Yemen and other places.. Working as the EFL teacher in the UAE you can easily afford it and many other things! You can live a decent life just remember to observe the rules not to get into trouble (as it is also possible..).

Read more here:

Teachers interested in working in Abu Dhabi must be licensed to teach in their country. As the highest salaries are in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, not surprisingly, jobs in these Emirates tend to require higher than average qualifications –MA, TEFL Certificate and a substantial work experience.


Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and is one of the most exciting, fastest developing cities in the world! The capital city of Abu Dhabi offers residents and visitors diverse lifestyles options as Abu Dhabi has evolved into a millennium standard metropolis that continues to grow in every sector continuously.

The culture may be the biggest aspect to be aware of and adapt to for many teachers. Many of the expatriates experience a culture shock having moved to the UAE. Adapting to completely different culture is not that easy as many things could seem unfair or just not right. Therefore, being open-minded and tolerant is certainly a must. However, if you cope with that, then you will be rewarded! Teaching in Abu Dhabi and the UAE can be one of the most challenging experiences you will have! You will definitely enjoy it!

Whilst it's true that the UAE is an Islamic country, it's relatively tolerant so you won't be expected to cover up completely. During Ramadan, it would be appropriate to dress more conservatively.

The Code of Conduct is not just a paragraph in your employment contract, you should really observe the rules, otherwise misconduct can become the reason of the termination of your employment if we talk about the UAE. Appropriate dress code, tolerance to the culture and its rules are vital in the Emirates.


• Men should always show respect to women, general courtesy should be applied.
• Men should never visit, attend or go to places that are marked 'For Ladies Only'.
•As a male, do not stare at or compliment females.
•Do not enter an elevator if you are a male and a single female is inside.
•Men can shake hand while greeting with a male, but never with a female, unless she offers her hand first. Females usually also shake hand between themselves.
•Keep in mind that the concept of personal space is different than in the West. A man should not be surprised if he is touched, hugged or kissed by other men. Although this concept does not apply to male–female relation, and any public physical contact between the two should be avoided!
• Remember that holding hands by two men is a sign of brotherly bonding, not that of a homosexual tendencies. Friends of the same sex kissing on the cheek, doing ‘nose kissing’ or hugging in public is normal, it is a sign of friendship.
•Bear in mind that people of different sex should never kiss in public. It is socially unaccepted and also against the UAE law.
•Remember that sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal and carry a prison sentence.
•Do not comment or criticize Islam, ruling families, local dress or traditions of the local people.
•Try not to express admiration for another person’s possessions as an owner may offer this item to you. This situation may oblige you to present something in return.
•Do not point the sole of your foot in the direction of an Arab, or other Asian for that matter. The foot is considered dirty and this gesture is highly offensive.
•Do not turn your back on someone who is speaking to you. It is seen as rude.
•Do not swear in public and do not show any threatening gestures, especially your middle finger, as it is punishable by law.
• Do not lose your patience or temper in front of an Arab; it is a sign of being rude and of a weak character.
• A hand signal such as fingers joined together with a thumb means ‘wait a minute’, or it can also be a sign of impatience.
•Remember to touch, pass or accept anything only with your right hand. The left hand is considered dirty. Also, eat with the right hand only.
•Accept hospitality by accepting offers of drink or food. Leave a little food on your plate if you are a guest, as a sign that you had enough.
•Remove your shoes when entering an Arab house.
•Remember that after the meal, if coffee is served it is a sign that it is time to go.
•Do not enter a mosque and do not touch the Qur’an if you are not a Muslim.
•In case you are allowed to enter a mosque (two mosques in the UAE are open to the public), you should attend in proper clothing. Long sleeves and trousers are appropriate for a man. Women should be completely covered including their hair.
•Do not eat, drink and smoke in public in the day time during Ramadan.
•While on the public beach, all swimmers should wear conservative swimwear. Topless and bikinis are not proper. Never wear swimwear in streets or other public places.
•Dress code: both women and men should refrain from wearing very short pants in public. Women should not wear any shorts or skirts that are above the knee. Do not wear clothing that exposes stomach, shoulders or back, or is tight and transparent.


In contrast to other regions, It is relatively rare to conduct a job search in person in many parts of the Middle East. My advice advise would be to apply online and find the suitable position before moving.
The first thing you are going to need if you are moving to the UAE is a residence visa, if you are not a GCC national. If you got the contract, your company should have your visa application sent to the airport at the time of your arrival. If so, they will stamp a residency visa in your passport. If you are planning to bring your family members to live with you, then you will need to get a family residence visa. This visa will allow you to sponsor your spouse, children, and parents, if they are coming with you. All applicants must also provide a criminal background check.


Having taught Emirati Soldiers and Navy Cadets I cannot imagine the better job! These students are the best: they are disciplined and motivated to learn! Although getting into the Military Sector is not that easy. Usually universities have subcontracts with the Military, so to get this position you need to apply directly to the University at first. Abu Dhabi University, Zayed University, Veti and HCT are the ones to consider if you choose to get into Military.


In the UAE it is common for housing to be included as part of the package. You can be given a housing allowance if you choose to rent your own living place.Generally, new expats receive a furniture and relocation allowances upon arrival. However, UAE employers tend to hire single men and women as the housing they provide is often shared unless you both are employed by the same company or they really want you and are willing to sponsor your family. You can be placed in the Villa Compound featuring a common kitchen and a living room and a separate room with the en-suite bathroom for yourself.

Be aware that unmarried couples are not allowed to live together by law and women are usually separated from men if we talk about accommodation. It is also unusual to have mixed classes in your educational institution, usually you will find a women's and men's flow.

Good teaching positions pay around 15.000-20.000 Dhs monthly. Medical care is typically paid by your employer. If we talk about the medical care, I must admit that it is of a very high standard.


If you have a driver's license from countries in America, Europe, a few other countries, you can easily transfer there driver's license to a UAE driver's license.


Cars and Taxis are the main forms of transport in the UAE. It is possible to rent a car on a weekly or monthly basis. It is easily affordable with a salary of a teacher
Teacher's job is of a high respect in the UAE. Therefore, you are well paid and can afford all the life joys and even have some money saved.

Saving is possible because many expenditures are covered. Commuting to and from work is usually provided and in some institutions you can even have free meals. One more important thing is that THERE ARE NO TAXES in the UAE!!! However, saving money will mean not spending it on all the joys around..
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