What are the best countries to teach English in the Middle East?

When researching opportunities for teaching English abroad, the Middle East emerges as a vibrant job market for TEFL qualified teachers. The region benefits from a substantial number of immigrants from around the world, resulting in a high demand for English language instruction across various industries. Employers in many Middle Eastern countries are willing to offer some of the highest salaries worldwide to secure qualified teachers. However, due to the attractive benefits, the requirements for teachers in this region tend to be higher than in other parts of the world. Here are some of the most popular countries for teaching English in the Middle East:

United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates (UAE): With a population comprised of around 90% foreign-born citizens, the UAE offers immense diversity and ample English teaching opportunities. English language skills are highly valued in the workplace, leading to numerous positions in schools, language centers, kindergartens, colleges, universities, and international schools following foreign curricula. Typically, a year or two of classroom experience, a degree, and a TEFL certification are required, although flexibility exists. In the UAE, English teachers usually enjoy generous tax-free salaries, free accommodation, return airfares, and often receive bonus payments, allowing for significant savings.

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Saudi Arabia

Similar to the UAE, Saudi Arabia has a strong demand for English language instruction, leading to widespread teaching opportunities. Various employers seek qualified and experienced teachers to fill their vacant positions. With one or two years of classroom experience, finding a suitable position should be relatively straightforward, although competitive high-end jobs may require additional qualifications or Arabic language skills. Teachers who meet the requirements can expect generous tax-free salaries and benefits, but it is important to consider the local conservative laws and traditions before accepting a job in Saudi Arabia.

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Despite its small size and population, Qatar boasts a robust market for English teachers due to the large number of foreign workers residing there. Language schools and centers cater to the language needs of the diverse population, with a significant concentration of opportunities in the capital city of Doha, where over 80% of the population resides. Job applications and interviews are typically conducted online, with positions secured from the teacher's home country. Qatar's growing profile, especially after hosting the FIFA World Cup, has contributed to the expansion of teaching options.

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While the aforementioned countries dominate the employment of foreign English teachers in the region, Oman is steadily challenging their market dominance. With a growing population and influence, Oman offers increasing opportunities for teachers. The opening of new schools and the expansion of educational institutions contribute to rising salaries and additional benefits. Government schools, private language schools, international schools, and high-quality kindergartens provide sought-after job prospects. Oman's reputation for a relatively laid-back atmosphere also appeals to teachers considering the Middle East as a destination.

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Kuwait is another Middle Eastern country where a significant proportion of the population is foreign-born, creating abundant possibilities for foreign English teachers. Teaching positions span various levels, from kindergartens to universities. The requirements generally align with those of other countries in the region, although Kuwait may offer greater opportunities for those with less experience compared to the UAE or Saudi Arabia. While average salaries may be lower than in the highest-paying countries, TEFL qualified teachers can comfortably live well and save a substantial portion of their income.

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