From Japan to the United Arab Emirates

Ben Lehtinen


If you have qualifications and several years’ teaching experience and are looking for something beyond the borders of Japan, why not try the United Arab Emirates? With the recent fallout from the economic crisis and its effect on oilprices, along with the whole eco-boom gripping the world, the Emirates are currently diversifying their economy beyond petroleum. Though finance and marketing are still shaky, foreign IT companies as well as universities are opening their doors with satellite campuses or partnerships with local universities throughout the seven Emirates.

Working for a university in the UAE has ups and downs as anyone who has worked in the region can testify. A high rangingand tax-free salary package with benefits such as paid housing, paid tuition for children, relocation and furniture allowances, and insurance makes the area quite attractive. Some will say the salary package is so attractive it more than makes up for the poor level of unmotivated students, but every context requires certain adjustments to perceptions and practices in teaching.

If this piques your interest, the most reliable way to land a job in the UAE is through networking. Name-dropping in some way, shape or form on a CV orduring an interview demonstrates a genuine interest in relocating there. For example, during the interview (phone or teleconference), one can explain how this contact has been a source of information and a motivating factor for seeking out such a new and exciting teaching experience. Interviewers may not even know the contact personally but only their place of employment and supervisor. Therefore, social networking in its many forms proves yet again to be an invaluable tool.

Another option is to head to the TESOL Arabia Conference held annually each March <>. Bring 25 copies of your best generic resume with a photo, register for the job fair, and then watch for posted positions. When you find one you’re interested in, scribble your number on a resume along with the position code/university and check frequently for callbacksfor interview scheduling. Then during the interview bring up your experience in professional development, your strategies for dealing with unmotivated students, your teaching reading and writing credentials, your knowledge of CALL/technology mediated learning, and any previous research presentations and publications.

One can also search the list of universities in the UAE at: <>. The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) have campuses all over the Emirates, as do Zayed University, Abu Dhabi University, and Khalifa University. Some of the university websites have yearlong calls for applications while others are looking for applicants for the fall or winter semester only.

Be sure to have a good look at the process of securing a residence visa and the various documents needed to get attested, authenticated or apostilled with your embassy and/or department of foreign affairs, < showtopic=9658>.

Taking a new job is always a step from the known to the unknown,but this experience is the growing part of life. It’s not always easy and there may be hurdles or tears along the way,but to try is to grow and to grow istolearn and that is why we became teachers in the first place.