Have You Ever Thought About Teaching in The United Arab Emirates?
If you’re looking for a mix of the old and the new, then the UAE might fit the bill. Emirati culture is based on Arabian culture with strong influences from East Africa, India, and Persia. Westerners may find it more liberal than most other Gulf nations.
There are many private schools which are internationally accredited. The emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in particular, have a great variety of such schools. The government strongly supports education and also supports English language learning.
The United Arab Emirates, sometimes called Emirates or the UAE, has a diverse population: nomadic desert people mixed with fisherman and seagoing traders, and those in the growing commerce sector and the petroleum industry.
Foreign nationals make up 65% of the population; most are guest workers from Pakistan and India who leave the country when their work contracts expire. The country boasts a population of 9.2 million: 1.4 million Emirati citizens and 7.8 million expatriates. Interestingly, about 88% of the population is urban.
The UAE is a federation of seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain). It was established in 1971. Each emirate has its own absolute monarch. One serves as President of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi serves as the capital.
The country lies on a northeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula with coastlines on the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and west and Oman to the north and east.
Daily Temperatures and Weather
October through April are the more pleasant months. July through September are very hot and humid. There is limited rainfall throughout the year. The climate lends itself to occasional dust storms.
What’s there to see?
All of the emirates have excellent beaches for swimming and watersports. Scuba diving and golf are available throughout the country. Horse racing is popular as well as Greyhound and camel racing.
You can try wadi-bashing or dune-driving in the desert and sport fishing in the Gulf. You can even try tandem skydiving, offered by the Umm Al Quwain Aeroclub.
There are many historical sites and cultural and art museums to visit.
If you like birds, you will be surprised to know that thousands of flamingos and other exotic birds stop on their migratory paths each year in some of the country’s marshland areas.
The Dubai Duty-Free complex at the Dubai International Airport was voted the world’s best duty-free shop by the International Airline Passengers Association.
You can enjoy both the old and the new souks for an endless selection of products. Pearls, Indian saris, pashminas, gold jewelry and brass ornaments, coffeepots, spices, fabric, beads, embroideries are popular items. Handicrafts are abundant as the government encourages the teaching of crafts in schools to preserve this art. Bargaining is customary and prices are generally less if you pay in cash.
Saturday through Wednesday are the shopping days (9:00-1:00 p.m. and 4:00-9:00 p.m.) with Thursday morning as an added time to shop. You might find a large shopping mall open on Friday afternoon.
The best variety of shopping is found in Dubai with shopping in Abu Dhabi ranking second.
There are no public liquor stores in the UAE, but you can purchase alcohol at one of the duty-free shops at the airport. You can purchase up to four liters of alcohol, and if you are staying long-term in the country, you can qualify as a resident and apply for a free liquor license permitting you to purchase tax-free alcohol at unmarked, government-run stores.
There is no added tax to items purchased at stores in the UAE.
Foods and Restaurants
The deluxe hotels with have a wide assortment of international cuisines, especially Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, French, and Italian. You can try local specialties like skewered grilled meats, roast lamb with cinnamon and raisins, and shawarma (similar to Greek gyros and made with either shaved chicken or lamb served on a warm flat bread).
Traditional foods include rice, fish, lamb, seafood. Many of the foods are spicy. Dates and coffee with cardamom are local treats.
There are a variety of fast food restaurants.
Some restaurants will include the tax and tip with the bill. If not included, you will need to add your own tip; the customary rate is 10%.
Safety and Health
The UAE is a safe country, but you should still protect your valuables and not travel alone (especially in the desert area).
Medical care is considered excellent. If you go off the beaten path, it is advised to eat hot, freshly cooked foods and peel the fruits and vegetables before eating. Also, make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked and the shellfish fresh and cleaned well. Do not eat local dairy products and drink prepackaged or bottled water.
Before traveling, you should check with your doctor as to the need for malaria suppressants and suitable insect repellent for more rural areas.
The summer months are hot so make sure you have adequate sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to wear.
The country observes strict rules when it comes to drinking and driving. Drunk-driving is illegal and punishable with 80 lashes. Kissing and dancing in public will garner the same punishment. Premarital sex is also punishable with 100 lashes.
During the month of Ramadan, it is illegal to eat, drink, or smoke between the sunrise and sunset hours. This applies to non-Muslims, too; exceptions are made for pregnant women and children. Failure to observe this holy month may result in arrest.
Women should avoid shorts and wear elbow-length blouses and slacks, capris or knee-length skirts or dresses. When sightseeing or shopping especially in larger cities, women can wear sleeveless tops and shorts. When at the beach or pool, a one-piece or modest two-piece is appropriate.
Men should wear long-sleeves for work and reserve short-sleeves for sightseeing. When dining out or going to clubs, dress more conservatively.
American and Canadian citizens need a passport but not a visa. Entry is refused for those who have an Israeli visa or an Egyptian stamp from an Israeli border crossing on their passport.
Reconfirm travel arrangements before entering or leaving the country.
There are several international airports: Abu Dhabi International (ABD), located 19 mi/30 km from town; Dubai International (DXB), about 2 mi/4 km from the city of Dubai; and Sharjah’s airport (SHJ), 9 mi/15 km from town. Dubai International was the busiest airport in the world for international passenger traffic in 2014.
An excellent highway system allows you to visit the coastal cities on the Persian Gulf. If driving on your own, don’t shout insults, etc. to other drivers as this is illegal in the UAE.
Taxis and chauffeur-driven rental cars are typical modes of travel. There are several types of taxis: those obtained at hotels which are the most expensive; those hailed on the streets which are medium in price; and those that are shared, the least expensive. Taxi prices may be more expensive at night. You don’t have to tip taxi drivers, but for exceptional service you may want to.
There is a reputable city bus system as well. You pay the driver when boarding; there is not need to purchase a ticket ahead of time.
A 750 mi/1,200 km country-wide railway is under construction. It is expected to connect all of the major ports and cities.
Additional Facts to Know
The UAE is home to the tallest man-made structures in the word (the Burj Khalifa), the world’s only seven-star hotel (the Burj Al Arab), the only Louvre built outside of Paris, and the largest playground in the world (Dubailand).
Don’t take pictures of military installations including airports or of any women without permission.
U.S. dollars are easily exchanged without a commission at local banks and exchange offices located in shopping malls. ATMs are readily available.
Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, shops, and restaurants in the more tourist areas. If you frequent smaller shops and restaurants, you will need UAE currency (dirhams).
Doormen, baggage handlers, and other service providers can be tipped for their services (a dirham or two is acceptable).
Buy a SIM card when you get to the UAE if you require wireless communications during your stay; your cell phone may not work. You can also purchase a prepaid phone card for use with pay phones or use local coins. There are also prepaid Etisalat calling cards from Emirates Telecom and “Speak Easy” cards for use with GSM handsets that work throughout the country.
There are many internet cafes and Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates offers a Wi-Fi zone and cell phone recharging. Internet services are not always reliable in the UAE; expect interruptions.
There are several daily English newspapers (Gulf News, Gulf Today, Abu Dhabi News, and Khaleej Times) published in the UAE. The 7 Days is a weekly newspaper that you can find in most coffee shops; it details information about local events and attractions in Dubai.
The country will host Expo 2020. This event bring together the global community to share innovations and make progress on issues such as the global economy, sustainable development, and improved quality of life.
For More Information
Abu Dhabi has a national and a local government office. The building in Abu Dhabi has English-speaking literature. In Dubai, the office is in the center of Baniyas Square. You can also find tourism kiosks in several of the larger malls.
In the U.S. – Government of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, 25 W. 45th St., Suite 405, NY, NY 10036. Phone 212-575-2262. http://www.dubaitourism.ae.
Regarding Canada – The UAE does not have a tourist office in Canada.
In the U.S. – U.S. Embassy of the UAE, Suite 400, 3522 International Court N.W., Washington, D.C, 20008. Phone 202-243-2400. http://www.uae-embassy.org
Regarding Canada – The UAE does not have a diplomatic representative in Canada.
Foreign Embassies in the UAE
U.S. Embassy, Road 4, Safarat district, P.O. Box 4009, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Phone 414-2550/ https://ae.usembassy.gov/
Canadian Embassy, Abu Dhabi Trade Towers (Abu Dhabi Mall), West Tower, Ninth and 10th Floors, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Phone 694-0300.
There is a U.S. and Canadian consulate in Dubai.