The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the most traditional and strict of the Gulf States, but also the richest. Home to over a quarter of the world’s oil reserves, it is a country that oozes wealth and financial opportunity, but also one that is rich culturally, and with fantastic weather all year round. Some are put off by the countries strict laws and customs, especially females, who are given more restrictions than males, but it doesn’t deter the many tourists who continue to flock to the country, and the many businessmen, professionals and expats who reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has two of Islam’s most holy cities, Mecca and Medina, and gives westerners the chance to explore Arab and Muslim traditions. Westerners often take the strictness of the laws the wrong way and see them as trying to discourage non-Muslims and non-Arabs from being a part of the community, but those who take the time to learn, understand and respect the local way of life will find that the truth is the opposite, and respectful foreigners are very much welcomed to join in.
The country’s landscape is vastly dominated by huge and spectacular desert, though there are some panoramic mountain ranges and coastline towards the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Along the coast you will also find some of the world’s best diving, with plenty of coral reef, especially around the ancient city of Jeddah, along with plenty of water sports.
Teaching English in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is known to be one of the highest paying TEFL teaching destinations in the world. The average English language teacher can expect to earn between $2500 and $4000 per month tax free, and is often given free accommodation as part of the package. That accommodation is usually a large, clean and modern apartment, with Saudi Arabia also having one of the highest standards of living.
In return for good pay, free accommodation and lots of bonuses, schools in Saudi Arabia will not only require TEFL teachers to have a120 hour TEFL certificate, but they also tend to look for teachers with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree; some schools will want candidates to have at least a master’s degree. Many schools will also require new teachers to have at least 1 to 2 years of teaching experience under their belt and prefer native speaking English teachers over fluent speakers from non-native English speaking countries.
Despite their high expectations, the schools of Saudi Arabia continue to suffer from a serious shortage of good English teachers, and those who do tick all the right boxes will have their a large range of schools and positions to pick from. The pay and the benefits are as good as a TEFL teacher can expect anywhere in the world, if not far beyond their expectations, and bonuses can also include an end of year or end of contract payment, reimbursed airfare, and one return flight home per year.
Negatives Vs Positives
The potential to earn very good money, live in luxury and save money every month, are amazing positives and often rare opportunities in the TEFL teaching industry, but for all the positives in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia there are also the negatives, which include a lack of evening entertainment and strict ban on alcohol consumption (although this could be seen as a further positive by those intent on saving during their time in country). The laws and customs are also very strict, especially concerning female visitors, with women not being allowed to drive and people being forbidden to talk to the opposite sex in public unless they are related, but this can also be turned into a positive by those who make the time and effort to learn local customs and show respect, with respect and friendship often being paid in kind.
Here are some of our favourite things to see and do in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
From small traditional souks to some of the world’s largest and most impressive shopping malls; as with other Gulf States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a shopper’s paradise. Shopping is a hobby, a passion, and a way of life for many of those living on the country’s high salaries, and this goes some way to make up for the fact there are no bars, clubs, casinos or cinemas to be found.
The King’s Cup
Every year Riyahd is host to one of the racing calendar’s most spectacular events, the King’s Cup. People flock from around the world to see the famous camel races, with up to 30,000 spectators and over 2,000 camels taking part, and with hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake!
The annual pilgrimage made to Mecca is one of the world’s most amazing holy events. During the month of Ramadan up to 3 million Muslims travel to Saudi Arabia and make the journey to several sites including Kaabah (the mountain of light), the Plain of Arafat, and the House of Abdullah Bin Abdul Muttalib (the birthplace of Muhammad). During this time non-Muslims are forbidden from entering these holy sites.