Why I Decided to Teach in Dubai
As you may know by now, I’ve recently announced that I am moving to teach in Dubai in the UAE this August. I had planned to begin my teaching journey in the UAE in September of last year, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, things didn’t go to plan!
When I was job-hunting, I applied to some schools through online portals and through agencies. In the end I got my job through a girl from my local town handing my CV in at her school, so for anyone who is reading this and who hasn’t secured a job, I would recommend reaching out to people you know who work in the UAE to do this for you too.
Since announcing my news, I’ve gotten a lot of messages and have had lots of conversations around what my thought-process was and what the pros were in making me want to move, and also the cons that I considered. In this blog post I’m going to explore some of these with you in case you are considering making the move whether it’s this year or in the near future.
Just to highlight, I have not visited the UAE or have not experienced any of the topics I am about to explore. The information has come from conversations with people who work or have worked in the UAE or through research online, so be sure to do your own research and have conversations with people you know who have taught in the UAE too as we all know that everyone has different experiences depending on a lot of factors! This is also by no means an extensive list of pros and cons, but it is my personal list, so let’s explore what they were!
Distance from Home
Anyone that knows me will testify to me being one of the biggest home birds you will ever meet!
My mum and I are best friends, and I am really not looking forward to moving away as I will miss her more than anything. This alone would be a big enough con for me not to make the move abroad, but my mum is my biggest supporter and wants me to experience a different culture, progress in my career and make memories. She also wants a holiday too and cannot wait to visit!
I will miss my family and friends a lot, as well as work colleagues that I’ve grown close to at home, but I think if the recent pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that time does pass and it can pass fast, so I know my time will fly and I will be home for holidays in no time.
I love driving and have been driving on a full licence for around 5 years now. You get really used to having a car that returning to public transport seems unimaginable! One thing that I have considered a lot has been the infrastructure of the roads in Dubai and that driving can be very challenging. It will take a long time to get used to the roads, however, public transport in Dubai seems to be fantastic and very affordable, so I will take my time getting on the road!
Longer working day and a slightly longer school year
In comparison to teaching in Ireland, both the teaching day and school year appear to be longer in most schools, including the school I will be teaching in from September. I am to be in school from 7.15 am until 3.45 pm, being the minimum hours, with staff meetings and training as additional working hours. The school year begins similarly to Ireland, at the end of August, however for my school, I will not finish for summer holidays until the 5th of July.
However, during the day, teachers have free time while their class attends other classes such as Arabic or PE for example. You can use this time as you wish, such as for planning, making resources, doing corrections, and attending meetings, meaning that you shouldn’t spend long in school in the evenings nor take work home with you.
While living in a hot climate with sun almost all year sounds exciting at first, from doing my research and talking to residents, the climate is extremely hot compared to what we would be used to in Ireland, making it difficult to exercise or go for an enjoyable walk outdoors.
I have been advised to ensure my apartment is ‘chiller free’ which means you don’t have to pay for your usage of the air conditioning.
A Different Culture
One thing I have asked a lot about is the different laws and rules that exist in Dubai in comparison to Ireland.
When I was first considering my move, the many differing rules and laws were stressful to understand and one I found that dominated the internet was being a woman in the UAE. However, this is one of the articles that I found very helpful, and after lots of conversations with expats in the UAE and researching online, I feel that I now understand my role as an expat in Dubai and how to respect the culture.
For me, research has been very important to understand the culture of the UAE to avoid culture shock. It is important for me to continue to research the culture of the place I will be living in extensively, right up until the day I leave Ireland. I am excited to experience a different culture and live in it too! I believe from immersing myself in a new culture I will learn more about myself as well as refining and learning new skills.
Psst.. read Nadine’s recommended article HERE.
The climate in Dubai is hot almost all year which means that there will be no such thing as being unsure as to whether I can do a certain activity at the weekend as following through with plans is completely weather-dependent here in Ireland!
With this year-long ‘summer weather’ I cannot wait to be able to utilise my free time at weekends and in the evenings to exercise or to sit outdoors and have an iced latte!
The weather can have a huge impact on my mood, as I am sure many of you will agree with too, so I am looking forward to feeling happier and more motivated with more consistent, hot weather daily!
One thing I have missed since leaving college and moving home is the absence of any work-life balance.
Living back at home, I haven’t socialised as much as I used to as many of my friends do not live at home anymore. I am really looking forward to having more of a social life and having more friends around to socialise with and have fun with outside of work.
I am also looking forward to getting involved with the GAA in Dubai, as both a player and as an underage coach.
Long-Term Contract in the Same School
An exciting aspect of moving to teach in Dubai for me this year is being able to have a job for two years in the same school without worrying about interviewing this summer or next summer. Also, being paid for my holidays is also very positive and makes me feel a huge sense of security financially as I know I can plan ahead with a secure job and income.
Tax-Free Salary and Other Financial Benefits
It goes without saying that a huge selling point for moving to the UAE for many people would be the fact that you do not have to pay any income tax on the salary you receive, unlike Ireland.
Furthermore, in most cases your school will provide you with free flights to Dubai and home at the end of the academic year. I also have health insurance included in my contract which is an added bonus.
All of these things will provide me with a chance to save money for my future.
If you have children or are married you will find that most schools will sponsor your family in getting visas and also either have free schooling for your children or offer a discount for them to attend your school.
Psst… Nadine recently completed The Teacher Savings Plan course with Rahoo. If you want to get financially -saavy information specifically for teachers who want to get on the property ladder, check it out HERE. Use NADINERAHOO21 for 20% off!
Oftentimes you will hear Dubai being referred to as the world’s ‘stopover capital’. When we travelled to Bali, we had a stopover in Dubai and we couldn’t believe the amount of people travelling through the airport; and that was only in our terminal. On a map you will see how central the UAE is to many locations on your bucket list and therefore when you search flights from Dubai to many popular tourist holiday destinations, for example South East Asia and Africa, you will find the prices are lower than when you search flights to these locations from Ireland.
On my school holidays I plan to get some countries and destinations ticked off my bucket list such as Sri Lanka, Jordan, India, Thailand, Egypt, The Maldives, and The Philippines.
Experience a Different Curriculum
One thing that I really cannot wait to experience is a new curriculum. I have heard great things about the British curriculum and that is what I’ll be teaching in Dubai. I find it interesting already that I won’t be teaching every subject like I do here in Ireland, for example, my class will be taught by PE and Arabic specialist teachers. I will be teaching year 1, which are the same ages as pupils in senior infants in Ireland, so I am excited to teach their infant curriculum and explore the similarities and differences between the two.
I will of course miss teaching Gaeilge so much, but I do intend to make sure I keep it up while I’m there. I would love to organise classes for Irish expats or will find online classes or discussion groups to attend.
In Dubai, there are many opportunities for career progression which is enticing for me as I have prospects of progressing into a leadership role whenever I can.
In the past year I have been assessing my strengths and making career goals in terms of what I would like to achieve in 5 and 10 years.
I am hoping that moving to Dubai will help me gain the experiences and knowledge needed to climb the ladder in educational leadership in line with my career goals.
Psst… read our article on women and career progression “5 Habits Women Need to Kick to the Curb & Why” HERE!
Living Out of Home With a View
One thing I am definitely excited about is to live out of home in my own apartment for the first time! As I mentioned, a lot of schools will provide you with either school accommodation or an accommodation allowance. If you are sourcing your own accommodation, some websites I have been recommended to check out are Dubizzle, Property Finder and Bayut.
I hope this gives you different perspectives and things to consider if you are thinking of making the move to teach in the UAE! For a long time it seemed like just a phrase to say that I was moving, but now it definitely is becoming more of a reality! I am most definitely scared and nervous, but I am more so excited and look forward to all the wonderful opportunities moving to the UAE will bring. It has been something I have always wanted to do and I am so proud of myself for following my dreams and going for it!
I will be sure to keep you updated on my journey, and once I am there and have experienced life as a teacher first hand, I will be sure to review my pros and cons and let you know what I think!
Best of luck with your decision and if you are moving, best of luck with that too! It is such an exciting time! Be sure to also drop me a direct message on Instagram if you are moving this year.
And we’re not jealous at all, are we?! Rahoo HQ are so excited for Nadine and we cannot wait to see all her adventures – personally and professionally! No better woman!
In Japan, it’s the norm for teachers to visit the homes of each one of their students once a year. They are usually invited in for a cup of tea and a short chat about the pupil in question before heading off to the next family down the road.
The teacher was returning to work following maternity leave, worried and looking for tips to juggle her work-life balance so she asked the teacher community.