As a conservative country with numerous customs that TEFL teachers may find restrictive, Saudi Arabia doesn’t suit everyone, but offers great rewards to the right sort of teacher. For those who can adapt to the differences in culture, the lure of generous financial reward makes Saudi Arabia a great choice. Salaries here are some of the highest in the TEFL teaching world.
Do consider the strict cultural differences of Saudi Arabia, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your passport will be held by your employer while you get muqeem (identity card) and if you want to leave the country, you’ll have to apply for an exit visa (which might not necessarily be granted!). Women have to be covered at the knees and shoulders, or wear an abaya (a cloak/robe which covers the whole body, exposing only the head, hands and feet) whenever appearing in public. Men and women are required to refrain from public displays of affection, and homosexuality is illegal. You should avoid using profane language or gestures, and it’s not permitted to take pictures or record videos in public without permission. Alcohol and pork products are also forbidden. However, one small win – since 2018, women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to drive a car. All in all, these strict rules often put off potential teachers, regardless of the lucrative income you can earn as a TEFL teacher. But if this daunting list doesn’t deter you, Saudi Arabia could be a great – and lucrative – teaching location.
Generally, Saudi Arabia has a very warm climate with temperatures regularly climbing up to 40°C. That said, spring and autumns are very pleasant with average temperatures of 29°C. Whatever the season, you’ll be living and working in air-conditioned surroundings. Coastal cities such as Jeddah still have high temperatures in the middle of winter, though central locations like Riyadh have more variation.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Dammam, Al Khobar, Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Baha, Medina and Jubail
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 96,000 – 180,000 riyals (£18,160 – £34,000 / $25,000 – $48,000) per year, or 8,600 – 11,300 riyals (£1,600 – £2,000 /$2,300 – $3,000) per month.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required for most positions
- Prerequisite university degree: Yes
- Term times: The school year starts in September
- Currency: Saudi Riyal
- Language: Arabic
- Teaching programmes: Language Schools, Business English, Universities, Private Tutoring, International Schools, International Kindergartens
- Age restrictions: Under 55
- Previous teaching experience: Most positions require experience
Your working week will usually be between 20 to 30 hours of teaching. Most employers are in the university sector and you’ll be teaching adults, many of whom will be university graduates. Other major employers include the Saudi oil industry and military, such as the air force.
The prospect of working and living in Saudi Arabia may be daunting at first, but remember you’ll be joining a group of teachers from a similar background to yourself. What’s more, most of the TEFL teaching contracts include fully furnished accommodation. While you won’t be required to speak Arabic, any knowledge you have of the language will be welcomed by your employers and will make your life in Saudi Arabia much easier.
An essentially safe country in which to live and work, Saudi Arabia follows a strict Islamic culture of respect, modesty, and self-control. These are certain factors to bear in mind for those intending working here but don’t mistake this way of life as being overly restrictive to the TEFL teacher. Working here can be a rich and enlightening experience and one where your talents as an English teacher will be both recognised and well rewarded.
Requirements for teaching English in Saudi Arabia
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in Saudi Arabia||£1,600 - £3,200
($2,000 - $4,000)
Saudi Arabia is the 3rd cheapest country in Middle East, and with most teachers earning a more than respectable wage alongside having a free apartment, it’s easy to enjoy a luxuriant lifestyle. Remember that you’ll be saving money on not having weekly trips to the pub, so if you want to find a TEFL location where you can hunker down, work hard, and save a lot of money, Saudi Arabia is the place to do it.
In your free time, you’ll discover a very well established ex-pat community and will have plenty of opportunities to make friends. There’s also no shortage of things to do in a country that is steeped in history and culture. Whether it be a trip to the cosmopolitan city of Jeddah on the Red Sea or hiking and camping in the desert, there’s something for everyone. Football fans will also find a home here since it’s Saudi Arabia’s most popular sport.
- Accommodation: £368 – £645 / $511 – $897
- Utilities: £164 / $228
- Cost of typical visit to a GP: £21 / $29
- Monthly transport pass: £15 / $21
- Basic dinner out for two: £14 / $20
- Cappuccino in expat area: £2.49 / $3.47
- 1 litre of milk: £0.94 / $1.31
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.62 / $2.26
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)