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As the biggest oil producer in the world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also the richest. Ultra-modern metropolises sit side by side with ancient religious and historical sites. Each year thousands upon thousands of Muslim pilgrims visit the most important Islamic shrines in Mecca and Medina. The Kingdom also sits surrounded by one of the largest deserts in the world, known as the Empty Quarter, which explains the dry heat of the day and the cool nights often experienced in this country. This does not mean that the landscape is devoid of nature. Saudi Arabia also has green oasis areas. Saudis seem to combine all aspects of the country in their free time and leisure activities. They like nothing more than shopping in plush complexes, eating with friends and family and enjoying barbeques and picnics in the desert.
For anyone thinking of living and working in Saudi Arabia, they need to carefully consider the considerable culture shock that will experience when moving to this country. The country applies strict Sharia law for both Muslims and non-Muslims. This means gender segregation in all public areas. For example, Starbucks will have separate queues for different groups, to keep unrelated men and women apart. For foreign women, there are certain laws that restrict what you can and cannot do. Women are forbidden to drive, which means that they need to move around by taxi. It is important to find a trusted taxi driver to avoid harassment. It is also illegal to leave the house without an Abaya (the black coat that covers your clothes) and your head covered. These laws are enforced by the religious police. Those that do not obey the laws face being imprisoned for inappropriate conduct. This also means that alcohol is prohibited.
Foreigners are able to mix with other expats in the privacy of their own compounds. There are mixed gender parties and even social clubs and networks. It is illegal, however, to invite a Saudi national to join you at these parties or events. This will result in imprisonment or deportation.
For those who are prepared for the culture shock, and can adapt to these rules, working as an EFL teacher can be very lucrative with some of the highest tax-free salaries in the world. These also come with excellent benefit packages, which can include furnished accommodation, health insurance, visa assistance and even international school fees if you are thinking of relocating with children. This also means that employers expect you to have a degree, a 120-hour TEFL certificate and at least 2 years' experience. Job opportunities can be found online or in the Guardian.
Positions are available to teach English to the military, oil companies, universities and in-house for corporations. Contracts usually consist of 20-25 hours of teaching per week. The main centres to find jobs are the capital, Riyadh, as well as Jeddah. The latter is more popular with foreigners, as it has a larger expat community. Any position that you accept must provide you with a work visa that also allows you to apply for an Iqama (ID card). Be aware that companies often take your passport from you, and will only issue you with an exit visa and your passport on successful completion of your contract.
|Degree Requirement||Typical Contract Length||Peak Hiring Seasons||Visa Info||Typical Students||Average Monthly Cost of Living in £ GBP & Local Currency||Average Monthly Salary in £ GBP & Local Currency|
|BA/BS required||12 - 24 months||All year round||Work visa in advance||Business professionals, children||2,600 – 5,300 SAR (423 – 910 GBP)||8,000 - 15,400 SAR (1,500 – 2,500 GBP)|