Saudi Arabia is not the safest place to go to get teaching experience, especially for American citizens. Nevertheless, the opportunity offers plenty of advantages, including:
- demand for English teachers is high;
- salaries are very rewarding and satisfactory while prices are quite low;
- there is no necessity to work long working weeks;
- the English teacher (from abroad) doesn’t have to pay local tax on his salary;
- there is an end-of-contract bonus, the sum of which depends on the length of the service;
- foreign EFL teachers are provided with furnished apartments or with housing allowance;
- the only utility in the house the teachers are to pay for is long-distance calls;
- every year a teacher with the family members receives airfare to and from home;
- the family of an EFL teacher receives basic health insurance and subsidized schooling.
Of course, there are certain disadvantages, namely:
- students tend to be unmotivated and undisciplined;
- classes are often large (up to 30 students per class);
- the curriculum is very strict and must be thoroughly followed;
- there is much monitoring and control from the local school administration concerning your teaching methodology;
- there is lack of entertainment opportunities (no cinemas, theatres, few bars);
- there is a restriction on movement for women; they are not allowed to drive as well;
- rigid censorship is exercised (topics like sex, religion, politics and others are not allowed to be raised and discussed);
- there is a ban on alcohol;
- the climate is very hot and sometimes difficult to bare.
Entry and Exit Visa
To teach in Saudi Arabia, you will surely need a work visa. As there are rarely tourist visas issued for individuals, as well as business visitor’s visas are very strictly investigated and often turned down, you have to secure a work place beforehand and have a contract or a document proving that you were accepted to a specific school or organization for a teaching position. In this case, there should be no further problems with obtaining a necessary visa.
An interesting thing is that entry visa doesn’t allow you to leave the country. For the exit visa you should apply when already being in Saudi Arabia, at least, week or 2 weeks before the departure date (during the religious holidays, such as Eid, it is better to take care of this even earlier). There are emergency visas that can be obtained in a shorter period of time (within one day). Visa should be used or cancelled before the day it expires. In other case, a fine must be paid.