Bring the Family! – United Arab Emirates
When most Westerners think of the Gulf region lots of less-than-savory assumptions crowd the mind, all of which, perhaps the exuberant wealth aside, would scream to any sane teacher, ‘Don’t be a fool! You can’t bring your family there!’ However, the reality in the United Arab Emirates is quite different to how these countries are often imagined. The UAE is perhaps one of the best countries in the world for teachers with families, and the government supports them by offering some of the most lucrative compensation packages on the international circuit.
Teachers with Children – United Arab Emirates
The UAE is widely considered one of the best deals for teachers with families. Not only can English teachers earn a salary comparable to or higher than what they might get back home, most can also expect employer-provided housing suitable to their family size, an annual travel allowance often more than enough to fly home for the summer, as well as complete healthcare coverage for the whole family.* When so much is provided, there is not too much else teachers need to worry about for their children aside, of course, from their education.
Schools – TESOL United Arab Emirates
Depending on location, teachers will find a range of private schooling options to cover their children’s educational needs, several of which follow either an American or a British curriculum and cater specifically to the English-speaking expatriate community. Some employers even provide a tuition allowance to cover this sometimes sizable cost. If a teacher is hired by a private school, their children are often permitted to attend the same school for free. However, most teachers do earn enough to pay the school fees themselves and still save money as well. Further, if a teacher decides that the cost and educational offerings are not to their liking, there is also the option of homeschooling, and with such an active and supportive expat community, many families have collaborated in creating effective homeschooling cooperatives. Lastly, while there are few Christian faith-based schools, the UAE does not put any restrictions on families worshiping freely according to their faith. Christian teachers will find formal and informal settings for meeting the spiritual needs of their families.
Life in the UAE – TESOL UAE
One question many teachers with families often ask about life in the UAE is if they will be confined to a compound with a host of other expat families with little to do. While this may be closer to the truth in other Gulf countries, the UAE is top in the region for the quality of life teachers can expect, especially those with families. They can travel freely where they like and enjoy the many recreation and entertainment opportunities the country has to offer, most of which are family-friendly. Parents can also shake off a long workweek, much the same as they would back home, at one of the UAE’s resort hotels or social clubs.
Safety Concerns – TESOL United Arab Emirates
Lastly, the biggest concern for most teachers is their families’ safety. Despite the troubles faced elsewhere in the Arab world, the UAE is actually one of the safest countries for expat families. There is very little crime and even general bad behavior and incivility, which we would expect in an American or European city, are quite rare. To illustrate, whereas in the US we would avoid a park at night, any given evening in the UAE and you will find Arab families sitting together, their children playing nearby, often quite late into the night. It’s a really wonderful to see.
All to say, if you’re an English teacher with a family itching for adventure, then the UAE is one of the best opportunities out there!