To wrap up this blog series on teaching in the UAE, I opened up my Instagram story to see what questions people still had. Below are the answers that I don’t think have been covered in the previous four posts, as well as the most common ones that I get asked. Let me know if I’ve missed anything!
Is it safe for women to travel there? Are they allowed to drive?
There’s really no crime at all over here (nobody dares to break the law!). You do hear the occasional horror story, but unfortunately you hear about those in Ireland too. There is potentially a culture difference in men creepily staring at you, or walking up to you in a mall to ask for your number, but nothing you need to be worried about. You can 100% drive in the UAE – click here to learn how to get your licence sorted when you get here!
Which schools would you recommend? Do any of them have a particularly good reputation?
Hard to say – you really don’t know until you get into the school itself. The only one that stands out is Raha International School – I’ve heard of a number of teachers there who love it, and it’s 90% expat students. You can see the ratings for all ADEK (Department of Education and Knowledge) here, but it goes without saying that just because an inspector thinks a school is ‘Outstanding’, doesn’t mean a teacher is going to love it.
Do you have to dress formally for school?
Men do – it was such a pain in the beginning, but I’m used to it now. ADEK (the inspectorate) set specific rules for their schools, so it’s a shirt and tie for me everyday. Women actually get away much easier – you’ll have to cover your shoulders and can’t wear jeans, but you can much more comfortable clothes than me!
Where can you learn about what the British/American curriculum entails?
Online is your best bet – but I wouldn’t worry to much about it. You’ll have training for up to a week before the kids start, so I wouldn’t worry about until you get here. Your school will know that you haven’t taught the curriculum before, so it’s up to them to support you! It’s no harm to research it a little bit before an interview though.
Are there a lot of inspections?
In my very limited experience, yes. You’ll have to pass your probation in the school, no matter how long you’ve been teaching. This will probably mean two inspections, and a lot of schools will have walk-throughs for all teachers on top of that.
Was anything way more expensive than you imagined?
Yes, gym memberships – they’re so stupidly expensive that it’s unthinkable. Currently one of the big branches has a three month special rate for teachers that comes in at just under €500…for three months. There is one gym here, Haddins, which offers a decent discount to Na Fianna GAA members, which works out at about €100 a month, but if you live a bit away from there it might not be worth it. We’re so lucky that we have a gym in the villa provided by the school!
Is there much culture or history there? All I see are shopping malls and huge resorts.
There’s definitely nothing close to what you’re going to come across in Europe – we’re talking about places that have only very recently been built! Yes, the culture leans very much towards pool days in fancy hotels, and massive shopping malls, but I suppose that’s part of it. There is a Lourve museum in the city, and the Grand Mosque is incredible. Check out this website for more ideas on what’s on offer!
I have a medical condition – what’s the health system like?
Pretty good to be fair. They are ruthlessly efficient on a good day, and better than Ireland on a bad one. A bus load of us went for a medical examination (needed before you can get your licence and insurance), and we were all in and out in about 45 minutes. On the other hand, I split my chin open on a jet ski in Dubai and had to wait over two hours to see a doctor, so I guess it depends. Your insurance is great though – a visit to the doctor will only set you back about €5!
Do you get a bonus at the end of your contract?
You should – roughly one month for every twelve months completed. Be aware that your gratuity will be based on your ‘basic pay’ though, which may not be the same as your salary. Read more about that here.
I think that’s everything! I hope I’ve given you a good idea of what living and teaching in the UAE is like over the last week. Take a look at my previous posts about the teaching, money, lifestyle, and process to learn more about life as a teacher in the UAE. If there’s anything else, you want to know, send me a DM on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for reading!