Teaching in Qatar is a life-changing opportunity!
The country has experienced rapid growth in recent times making it the richest county in the world and thus becoming an attractive destination for English speakers due to the opportunities and calibre of work available.
Teachers are flocking to the tiny country, nicknamed the “new Dubai” for its top private international schools, competitive salaries, stunning shoreline of beaches and dunes and it’s futuristic, ultramodern capital, Doha.
But like everywhere, living and working in Qatar has it’s pros and cons, so before you decide to make the move to the Middle-East, there are some things you should know…
Due to the large number of expats and growth of international schools, educational establishments in Qatar aren’t just looking to recruit teachers that want to teach English.
In fact, most schools look for certified teachers that have experience teaching primary and/or secondary school subjects for international schools, where the language of instruction is already English.
In Qatar you can be expected to begin the school day very early at around 6:30 – 7 AM as an earlier day can help teachers cope with the afternoon heat which can sometimes reach up to 38º C!
There is a great demand for teachers in these schools, as a great deal of Qatari adults hope to increase their knowledge of the English language. Language schools hire teachers for adult learners, business professionals, and young children. You may be expected to work after school hours or during the evenings or weekends.
Private International Schools
International schools are typically private schools and they are always on the look out for International Baccalaureate (IB) teachers, in subjects other than ESL. Native English speakers may be expected to teach maths, science and even geography but to name a few!
It’s also important to prepare yourself if you are to work in a private organisation, as they are not necessarily required to adhere to national standards and how the school operates may differ to what you’ve come to expect in the UK.
Tutoring is a good way to make extra money after-school or on the weekends and you can get paid around 100-350 QAR an hour (about £20-£70). Although, you will need to advertise your services, post on online job boards and make the right connections once living in Qatar to get the placements and salary you desire.
Your school will offer you a benefits package before you agree to teach in Qatar.
The best school packages should include housing (or housing allowance), health care, annual round-trip flights from your point of origin, and some will even include shipping, settling in, and transportation allowances.
Remember, you’re not just accepting a new job, you’re making a life-changing decision to move half way across the world, away from family, friends and all your home comforts.
These benefits are a way of getting you settled, welcoming you into a new community and are early signs of how well your employer will take care of you while you teach in Qatar.
Schools in Qatar offer a tax-free salary with benefits and teachers can expect to earn between £1500 – £2900 a month as typically, salaries are about 10-15% higher than in Dubai.
Public transport in Qatar is lacking and the traffic is notoriously bad, so if you get road rage easily, perhaps a different destination like Shanghai would be more to your liking.
However, if you’re a confident driver and don’t mind the odd delay, renting a car is the preferred option for many expats and if all else fails, there’s plenty of taxis to choose from!
Teaching in Qatar usually means teaching students from all over the world, whether that be from other Arabic countries, Australia, the US or even beyond!
It is important to make a connection with each and everyone of your students on a personal level as well as professional. Shown an interest and make them feel welcome in your classroom and by doing so, you will learn a lot from them as they do from you!
This is even considered more important than punctuality, so leave all your Western philosophies behind, relax and absorb this new culture that values relationships and leisure over occasional lateness and stressed teachers!
Qatar use to operate under the controversial Kafala system, which meant employees had to obtain an exit visa, or permission to leave the country.
Despite criticism that not much has changed, according to some, the new sponsorship law now makes it easier for some residents to change jobs and leave the country, although you still must seek permission if you wish to change jobs before your contract expires.
However, if you believe you’ve been mistreated or exploited by your employer you can petition for a job change, the labor ministry has confirmed.
Exit permits still exist and expats need to apply directly to the government for these and ask their employer in writing before leaving the country. Even in emergency situations.
However, some schools will grant their teachers multiple exit visas, which means employees do not need to request permission for each individual trip. If the employer does not agree, the employee can appeal to the new Exit Permit Grievance Committee either online, in person at a government services complex, or at a police station.
Don’t worry though! The new law also requires anyone moving to Qatar for work to see a copy of his/her work contract in his/her home country, meaning if there is anything you don’t like, you can try and negotiate your contract with the school or simply reject the job offer!
Work visas will only be issued for contracts that have been approved by the government and expats on fixed-term contracts can change jobs without employer approval (once their contract has ended). Those on open-ended contracts can switch employers without approval after five years. However, employees will still need to apply to the labor ministry to switch jobs.
Expats who have left the country and canceled their residence permits may return immediately without waiting two years as was previously the case, provided they have a new work visa.
However, workers who have been found “guilty of misconduct” while working for their previous employer in Qatar will not be allowed to return. Employees whose contracts are terminated while they are in Qatar have three months to secure a new job and If they cannot, they must leave the country.
The Culture and Lifestyle
The people of Qatar are called Qatari’s and Arabs. The official language of this country is Arabic, but most people also speak English, especially when carrying out business.
Qatar culture is quite conservative and follows Islamic law like other countries in the Middle East. However, for its non-Muslim expats certain “freedoms” are given which are not allotted to Islamic citizens and residents.
For example, alcohol may be banned for muslims but non-muslim residents can buy alcohol in hotels and for consumption in their homes.
You do not need to cover your hair, but you will be expected to cover your shoulders and knees and dress modestly, avoiding clothing such as low cut tops at all times. However, this won’t be too difficult as most of your days will be spent inside air-conditioned buildings anyway!
However, international beach hotels such as the Intercontinental and Hilton are non-restrictive so a Bikini is completely acceptable here around the pool areas.
Although Qatar may seem to have many rules and regulations, it is also dubbed one of the safest places in the world, with crime rates below the global average. With that being said, there are places to avoid and parts that could be safer, just like anywhere. So be smart, do your research and look after yourself and you’ll be fine!
In regards to fun, the country boasts many amenities and attractions, including large shopping centres, water parks and museums and as it is surrounded by water, there are plenty of water sports and activities for you to indulge in!
If you’re not a fan of water, there’s dune bashing, desert camping and of course, many of same activities you enjoy at home like live music, Yoga and the theatre. There are also hotels that show sports and offer a little nightlife, but if you’re a regular raver, this may not be the place for you.
Weekends are on Fridays and Saturday and its important to note that most shops will be shut on Friday mornings before afternoon prayer.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about moving to teach in Qatar.
We hope we’ve answered any questions you have and helped the decision making process just that little bit easier for you.
If we haven’t, then please email our International expert here and they will do their best to inform you but if you want our honest advice, don’t think, just do it!