The United Arab Emirates is composed of seven emirates, each governed by their own emir, or ruler. The most famous emirates are Abu Dhabi, where the capital of Abu Dhabi City is located, and Dubai, the hub for all things luxurious in the Middle East. The UAE is a diverse nation, with hundreds of thousands of expats living in its multicultural cities. Shopping addicts will find that there is no shortage of markets and malls, and outdoorsy types will discover waterfalls, deserts, lakes and oceans.

Photo credit: andryn2006.

Public Schools:

Public schools offer jobs in the cities of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, or Al Gharbia for teaching English to kindergarten through high school. A joint venture with the UAE’s Ministry of Education, public schools aim to reform their English curriculum. This is a project directly in conjunction with the government’s goals of creating a bilingual population.

English, math, and science courses are all taught in English and reserved for ESL teachers. In addition, some local schools hire those with less teaching experience, which is a great opportunity for younger teachers to move to UAE.

International Schools:

Private international schools, primarily located in Dubai, use the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) program, like the Emirate International School. Other schools utilize an American, British, or Australian curriculum.


Some colleges in the UAE, like the Khalifa University, hire educators for their English language or Business administration departments. Business courses are in high demand; instructors of marketing, accounting, economics or finance are strongly preferred. Professors can give UAE students some perspective on life abroad, as many aim to work internationally post-graduation. Teachers are required to have more experience and a master’s degree to apply.

When and Where to Look for Jobs:

The largest cities are Abu Dhabi City and Dubai. However, positions are available in the coastal Al Ain or desert town of Al Gharbia. Schools hire during the spring and summer for an August start-date, but recruitment continues year-round for open positions.


Teachers are required to have a bachelor’s degree and TEFL/TESOL certification. Some schools prefer candidates with a master’s degree. In addition, you must be a native English speaker with a minimum of 2 years of experience to apply (unless you plan to teach at a rural/local school).

Salary & Cost of Living:

Most contracts offer free housing or a housing subsidy, along with flight reimbursements. Since rent is covered, day-to-day costs in UAE are relatively low. Avoid leaving the air-conditioning on when not in the house, as well as eating out often, if you want to save some of your earnings.

Classroom & Work Culture:

Dress professionally, or business casual, while in the classroom. Islam is the official religion of the UAE, so conservative dress is recommended while in public.

At most schools, you will work with other expats, as well as local teachers (foreign teachers form about 10-35% of the staff at public schools).


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