I’ve recently researched the possibility and advantages of teaching in Dubai. As one of the richest, if not the richest gulf states, the United Arab Emirates pays the highest for its foreign teachers.
There are a lot of myths out there about teaching in Dubai, but Dubai is rapidly becoming a booming financial center and metropolis in the desert. The Sheikh’s vision was to move his country GDP away from oil and into tourism. With projects such as the Palm and World Islands, it’s not wonder that this is becoming a reality.
The city’s current ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is also the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE.
I was first introduced to this idea by a man I met while traveling in Phuket. He was from Oman and recommended teaching there. He talked about free houses and cars and things like that. I was skeptic, but started thinking about the idea.
The Burj-Al-Arab (برج العرب, “Tower of the Arabs”)
I finally started seriously looking at it a few weeks ago. I have to say that there were some good points and bad points about teaching in Dubai. Naturally the first thing you have to realize is that Dubai is in the desert, so the climate will be very different than what you are used to.
Dubai’s geographical proximity to India and Pakistan made it an important location. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen, chiefly those from India, many of whom eventually settled in the town.
Hydropolis, the most luxurious underwater hotel scheduled to be completed in Dubai in 2009.
Teaching conditions are best for teachers with a masters degree. Teachers can then teach at universities. Salaries range from 3600USD to 4600USD a month, income tax free. I have heard and read varied reports about the students that you teach there. Some say they are coddled some say they are great, my guess is that it depends on how and what you teach.
Naturally for people used to Asia, it will come to no surprise on how they treat foreign teachers. From the reports and testimonials, it’s a bit better than Asia, but not by far. The only thing that I would be careful about would be teaching in small school in the middle of nowhere. As I have learned at my own expense, it’s best to stick with the biggest cities. Sure the schools might sound appealing, but they might just be bullshitting you. As always, I do not recommend going through an agency. Some agencies have great services, while others will try and screw with you.
The biggest incentive of teaching in Dubai is the education subsidy of 80000 AED (which is about $22000USD) for children. This goes a long way to pay for a good education for your kids. I’ve read that it’s not enough to pay for all of it, but it pays for most of it. On top of that, Dubai has got some good international and American schools. Time off is variable, depending on your position. It can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 8 weeks a year. This leave is paid and almost all schools will offer to pay for a flight home and back, which is pretty neat.
Dubai is progressive for a Gulf state. Their attitude towards women is more relaxed than the more orthodox states. I’ve read that traffic is a headache in Dubai, and the people there love their cars. Be prepared to see things that you can not afford, from sumptuous hotels and clubs to mega yachts and other motorized toys.
If teaching in the Middle East is something that you’ve always wanted to do, I’d recommend trying out Dubai for a year. Worse comes to worse, you’ll spend a year teaching in one of the most interesting places in the world, with the Burj-Al-Arab, Hydropolis, the Palm and World Islands and other very spectacular sights.
The Burj Al Arab has attracted criticism as well as praise, described as “a contradiction of sorts, considering how well-designed and impressive the construction ultimately proves to be.” The contradiction here seems to be related to the hotel’s extreme opulence. “This extraordinary investment in state-of-the-art construction technology stretches the limits of the ambitious urban imagination in an exercise that is largely due to the power of excessive wealth.” Another critic includes the city of Dubai as well: “both the hotel and the city, after all, are monuments to the triumph of money over practicality. Both elevate style over substance.” Yet another: “Emulating the quality of palatial interiors, in an expression of wealth for the mainstream, a theater of opulence is created in Burj Al Arab … The result is a baroque effect”. Sam Wollaston writing in The Guardian described the Burj as “…fabulous, hideous, and the very pinnacle of tackiness – like Vegas after a serious, no-expense-spared, sheik-over”. 
The best advice if you want to teach in Dubai, is to first contact prospective schools by email or phone before leaving. Second is to set up interviews in the first two weeks of your projected arrival. Third is to make your way to Dubai and go to interviews. Choose the best position at the school that you want. Don’t choose from overseas without seeing the school and their students. It’s happened to me and it’s easy to get duped into positions that aren’t as good as they seem initially.
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- Dubai wiki page
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
- United Arab Emirates
- Dubai City Guide
- Dubai Is Nuts
- Satellite Images Of Iran And The Persian Gulf
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