Despite perceived differences, teaching in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is not that different from teaching anywhere else. Of course it’s important to be aware of both cultural and gender role differences, and one should never discuss the monarchy, Islam or Middle East politics in a KSA classroom. However, if you steer clear of these topics, you will find the Saudis to be among the nicest students you will ever teach. Here are some ideas about general academic conduct as well as classroom dynamics in a Saudi context:
• You will find Saudis very respectful of teachers in general and eager to learn. As with some other cultures, Thailand for example, you will occasionally have problems with tardiness. A good way to get around this is to have a firm rule at the beginning of a course and stick to it. That said, there are very few disciplinary issues that have to be dealt with in a Saudi classroom.
• Jobs for females at university or college level, are typically in the following subject disciplines: cosmetology (skin care, hairdressing), tailoring and dressmaking, computer technology, administration and finance (accounting). This is due to high demand for such courses among Saudi women.
• For men, vocational trainers are needed e.g. technical trainers in the following subjects: welding, IT, refrigeration and air conditioning, car mechanics and electronics. This kind of teaching tends to be both theoretical and practical and thus it follows a lot of teaching time is spent in both classrooms and workshops.
• There is also some demand for traditional university jobs for lecturers of accounting, finance and marketing. This kind of teaching tends to be more theoretical and thus follows a normal lecture type lesson e.g. the lecturer speaks and the students take notes. Consequently, there is less opportunity in the class for Q&A type interaction.
• Most Saudi universities are quite hi-tech, so you will be expected to use a smartboard or a Promethean board. If you haven’t used any of these before, they are generally quite easy to use. There are many videos on YouTube which will help.
• Because of the major shortage of qualified teachers in KSA, there are often opportunities to do private tutoring. However, be careful here as Saudi Labour law stipulates that no extra paid teaching can take place if you are already sponsored by a school, college or university.
With the region more stable after recent political changes, now may well be the best time to update your CV, learn some survival Arabic and check out some employment websites. With tax free salaries on offer, it could turn out to be one of the best decisions you ever made.