by Expatguru - 11/26/2014
"This article gives information and useful tips on what potential female teachers planning to go to Saudi Arabia can look forward to. "
Female teachers planning to work in the kingdom, particularly newbies would be wondering what it is like to work there. Let me try to clear some common misconceptions and also provide information on what to expect when you land there.
To begin with, I would like to reiterate that there is a huge demand for female teachers in the kingdom. The Saudi Government’s Ministry of Education has laid special emphasis on this and you could find proof of this in the sheer number of female teachers applying for positions in the ever-increasing number of schools and universities coming up in the kingdom. Demand for qualified and experienced teachers is rising exponentially each year.
Contrary to the stereotype image, Saudi is probably one of the safest places for female teachers. The kingdom offers reasonably good tax-free salaries. Typical contracts involve housing, annual return tickets to place of origin, one month paid leave, medical coverage and educational subsidy for your kids (for those on family status) and End of Service Benefits (ESB).
Of course, you need to be aware of certain restrictions. Women are not allowed to drive, which could hamper mobility, but most universities provide transport for weekend shopping trips to malls. You also need to respect local rules and customs. For instance, women going out of their homes must cover themselves with a black dress (called abaya). You need not cover your face, but might need to cover your head. Mixing between genders is prohibited as also alcohol. Over a period of time, you would get used to these things and would not consider them as restrictions at all, because you would be focused between work and home and would almost always be in the company of either your family or your friends.
As a western female expat, you need to be aware of the cultural differences and sensitivities of the kingdom. Social activities such as dating, which might be commonplace back home, are frowned upon. However, once you get to understand what you can and cannot do, you would automatically adjust yourself to the new environment and get used to it. Remember, there are plenty of other female expat teachers like you and it is a matter of time before you become part of a good circle of friends.
Most teachers prefer to stay in compounds which contain several villas. Western compounds are heavily protected and have the best comforts which you could imagine. Shopping is a favourite past-time and there are huge malls similar to any city back home. Life within these compounds is a different world and is similar to your home country. Most teachers have multiple exit/re-entry visas, which they use for making frequent trips to nearby Bahrain to unwind, where the rules are more relaxed.
One of the important points you need to note is to always go only on a work visa and not on a business visa. It is illegal to work while on a business visa and the pain is that you cannot renew it more than two times. Note that the onus is on you and not on your sponsor, in case you are caught working on such a visa by the authorities.
Your stay in the kingdom as a female teacher would be financially rewarding and would be a different kind of experience which you would enjoy.