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Teaching in Saudi Arabia, for females

Few countries in the world today offer such riches and rewards for English teachers as Saudi Arabia. But what can female teachers expect?

Posted on 07-10-2012 by Kim Loe - 68 Comments.

Few countries in the world today offer such riches and rewards for English teachers as Saudi Arabia. With excellent salary packages and high standards of living, Saudi Arabia, at the heart of the Middle East, offers foreign teachers the ideal opportunity to experience true Arabic culture and Islamic traditions, exploring the large, modern cities, bustling markets and bazaars, rich, glorious coast line or living out amongst the small desert towns, surrounded by miles upon miles of the mystical Sahara desert.

Whilst many new teachers are sold on the rich potential and rewards of Saudi Arabia, many female TEFL teachers can be hesitant, or completetly put off by the idea of teaching in the region, due to laws and attitudes towards women, but that really doesn’t need to be the case.

The female lifestyle in Saudi Arabia

All foreign teachers, no matter what their background, beliefs or history, will be expected to respect and comply with local laws and customs in Saudi Arabia. All female teachers in Saudi Arabia are expected to not only be aware of the customs, but to incorporate them into their daily routines, with very few exceptions. However, while Saudi Arabia can be a very male dominated society, it is also a very safe one for females living here, and communities are built upon strong bonds of interdependence, and ultimately respect between the sexes.

Challenges will include not being allowed to drive, or even ride a bike, and it is generally not acceptable for women to talk to men in public. All women, foreign and national, are expected to use a guardian when mediating. Whilst this may seem very alien to new expatriates, a guardian is someone who not only mediates ideas and conversation, but who traditionally offers help, advice and support, especially with regards to travel, education and employment.

Female teacher housing in Saudi Arabia

Most foreign English teachers in Saudi Arabia will be provide with housing, and expected to reside in a group compound. Benefits to this will usually include lots of shopping and entertainment options, as well as all travel provided. In such compounds foreign teachers are usually not required to use or need a guardian. Compounds are typically very comfortable, if not luxurious, with all the finest facilities one could expect back home, and more, including gyms, pools, saunas and lots of tech, communication and sports facilities. Within these compounds foreign teachers will have excellent opportunities to socialize with fellow westerners, living more closely to their native customs. Though outside these compounds female teachers will be expected to live wholly by local laws and expectation, they are given far more freedom and liberation within the large living complexes.

Cultural Traditions for female teachers in Saudi Arabia

Among the social laws and expectation for foreign teachers in Saudi Arabia, all women are required to wear an abaya; a loose over-garment which covers the head and length of the body, occasionally also covering the face (the look and style of the abaya depends on the region). Social segregation is also very important, and many shops, restaurants, cafes and other social locations will have designated areas for women. Education centres are also either all female and all male, with female teachers only being allowed to teach female students, and male students only taught by male teachers.

Other things to consider

Alcohol is prohibited, as is the public exhibition of films, so don’t expect to find any cinemas, bars or clubs. However shopping is a popular past-time and Saudi Arabia is filled with modern malls and concept shopping centres, rivalling any western city for it’s quality and standards of shopping emporiums, although it should be noted that women are forbidden from changing in public buildings, so you won’t find any changing rooms within stores.

While some of the rules and expectations may seem difficult to live by from a distance, few female TEFL teachers fail to adapt to Saudi life, with most finding a country beautifully rich with religion and family orientated life. Those looking for a taste of western culture often make trips crossing the border into Bahrain, which is far more tolerant and relaxed regarding foreign cultures, with bars, clubs and lots of opportunity for socializing, making it popular with Westerner expats

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68 thoughts on “Teaching in Saudi Arabia, for females

  1. Brenda Sharafi says:

    Anyone , have you worked in Riyadh at
    Princess Nouri University? Please share out.

    Miss S

  2. Natalie Murray says:

    Hi Brenda,

    I have just been accepted for a position at Princess Noura University through the Saudi British Centre. It is a very nice campus. I am not there yet, but my contacts who are say it is a great campus with great students, and employees are well-treated. Look it up and make sure you find a reputable recruiter or go through a TEFL school. You may want to also look into the Saudi British Centre as well. Some reviews online are bad, but I have done my own research and established contacts, I am confident thus far. I went through Oxford Seminars, which I highly recommend.



  3. Kate Rose says:

    Hello, No I haven’t, but I’ve just been offered a job there… so if anyone out there does know anything, yes, please share! Thanks, Kate

  4. Jennifer Beels says:

    I have also been accepted as an English Teacher at Princess Noura through SBC but will be living in a married compound with my husband (he also has a position teaching English. I haven’t been able to find out a great deal of information about life in Saudi on these compounds or teaching generally.

  5. Fredericka says:

    I have also been accepted to the Princess Noor University with SBC and will leave for Riyadh in August. I am excited about this professional move and would love to connect with any one there already or going there and I am also curious about the accommodations and where and how we will be living. Thank you

  6. Vicki R says:

    I would love to hear more from the teachers who were hired through the Saudi British Centre. I have received an offer from them, but have read such horrible reviews online. I too went to Oxford for my certification. I would be very interested in exchanging emails with anyone there.

  7. Karen SueJoy says:

    I’m interested to hear from Natalie, Jennifer, Vicky, Fredericks, etc. who’d just posted in July re Princess Noura and SBC. Wondering what they think of it now? I ask because I was also offered a job there and have experienced terrific failures of communication and lack of full disclosure about the terms of the contract with SBC and there people. Also I have heard from many female expat teachers there who aren’t very happy in KSA, everything from the female students at PNU not being very appreciative or supportive to the extreme boredom, etc. So I’d love to get her read on things now. And who knows, maybe I will get there sometime!
    Best, Karen

  8. Kelli Bird says:

    Hi everyone!
    I have just recently completed CELTA (June 2014) and I am looking for my forst job in teaching ESL. i really want to find a job in Saudi, but I’m not having any luck because everywhere I look they are asking for degree and masters…which I don’t have. It’s really disheartening me because I feel like my whole CELTA training has been a waste of time and money, if I cant even get a job with it! If someone could please give me some advice I would really appreciate it. Maybe someone is already working there and can help me out?

  9. Jennifer Beels says:

    I completed my full year at PNU and am returning to Riyadh but at a school not the university. SBC at PNU are not too bad overall. The teachers live on a campus in shared accommodation but the villas are large and you can avoid anyone you don’t get on with. I lived outside with my husband so I can’t speak from personal experience. The students are challenging in that they have low ability and are expected to follow material that is to some extent beyond them. The management can be a bit autocratic. But this is not unique to PNU but is general to all the universities. There are also differnt levels of teaching, each with its own management set up and teaching requirements so the experience can vary. I started off being very creative and planning fun activities but this took too much time and energy by the end I had had enough, stuck to the book and as a result felt somewhat bored and frustrated as the girls are not making the progress you’d like to see. Everything has its roots in Saudi culture and it is a good plan not to take things personally.

  10. Jennifer Beels says:

    Just read my original comment and note that I said ‘married compound’. Her e is an example for the fuzzy info you get from the recruiters you can be a bit misleading. We ended up living in a hotel suite which was fine, but we had no help and no notice to find a place after just a week and tried an unsatisfactory place first of all. You don’t need this kind of stress when you have just arrived in the country. It turned out ok but was shaky at the time. A BIG ONE IS don’t go out on a business visa make sure you are going on a work visa. Many were fooled into this believing it would be converted to a work visa at a later point or there was no problem. Without a work visa (application for an Iqama) you CANNOT get back into Saudi if you leave. This means you can’t leave the country and travel during the breaks even nip off to Bahrain for a weekend of R and R. Also it is illegal for you to work there as a long term employee on a business visa – they are only allowed to renew it 3 time so you may find that you are working illegally and it is down to YOU not SBC as they claimed.

  11. Jennifer Beels says:

    There were certainly some people without experience or not a lot. I think that some of the more unscrupulous agencies asked people to adjust their CVs. The documents don’t go to the universities in all cases and they just take the agency’s word. Just a thought.

    They are usually desperate for female teachers so keep trying. The semester starts in September but they were still bringing in people in February / March.

  12. amna says:

    i want to work in jeedha i live in pakistan i need visa i have passed M A English from punjab university lahor

  13. amna says:

    plz give me visa

  14. Kerry says:

    Hi Amna,
    Thanks for your post. Unfortunately our recruiting partners in Saudi Arabia require that their employees hold a degree and a passport from a native English speaking country, so we wouldn’t be able to process your application.
    Good luck with your TEFL journey!

  15. Kerry says:

    We do not process visas unfortunately.

  16. Ann says:

    Is there an age restriction for TEFL workers in Saudi.

  17. Nice blog. The points are also very informative for me. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  18. Kerry says:

    Hi there Ann,
    Recruiters usually require that females are between the ages of 21 and 60.
    I hope this helps with your TEFL journey!

  19. Hi there Ann,
    Recruiters usually require that females are between the ages of 21 and 60.
    I hope this helps with your TEFL journey!

  20. Aya says:

    Hello, I am a recent graduate from the US in my early 20s thinking about teaching English abroad. I am attracted to teaching English in Saudi Arabia because of the opportunity to save money and pay off some loans while gaining international experience. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with Oxford Seminars? I have read some reviews saying it is a scam but it is the best option for an in-class tefl certification program in my city. Also how difficult is it finding a teaching job with no experience? I have a few months tutoring experience but I am worried about spending money on a tefl program and not being able to find a job.

  21. Kerry says:

    Hi Aya,
    Thanks for your message.
    For detailed information about what’s required to teach in Saudi Arabia, please email

  22. Kay says:

    Hi Aya!

    I just completed my TEFL with Oxford Seminars about a month ago and it was honestly the best investment ever. It really paid off not only did it prepare me to teach but the job search advisors were super helpful. They helped me with my resume and set up connections with recruiters in Saudi. I was able to find a job in Saudi through Oxford Seminars. So its not going to be a waste of money at all! Best of luck.

  23. Oxford Seminars is not a scam but a very nice way to obtain knowledge about ESL teaching, good guidance and resource books, and a Certificate. Go ahead and use this opportunity. They also helped me find a job.

  24. Victoria says:

    Hi! I appreciate all the above information as I am currently considering taking an ELT position in the ESG (Employment & Skills Group) tuition free colleges for Saudis. The recruitment is being handled by ‘worldteachers recruitment agency’ in the UK. Does anyone know anything about either the school or the agency? I’m a 36 single female, so I’d also take any advice about going there. Thanks in advance!

  25. Abdullah Asalem says:

    Hi Guys ,

    I from Saudi Arabia living in Riyadh which is the capital of Saudi . I am happy to help you with any kind of information or when you arrive to Saudi Arabia .



  26. Abdullah Asalem says:

    Hi Brenda ,

    The campus of this university very big which is conceding as city . Also it is located close to Airport and also only for female .


  27. syeda says:

    Hi, just wanted to find out about the teachers qualifications. I understand that you need to be certified but do you need to know the saudi language?

    Thank you

  28. Kerry says:

    Hi Syeda,
    Thanks for your comment.
    You don’t need to know the language of your host country to apply for TEFL jobs, but you’re right – you need a TEFL qualification and in many cases you may need some TEFL teaching experience or similar.
    I hope this helps!

  29. Sameerah says:

    Just wondering if I can bring my husband and son with me?

  30. Kerry says:

    Hi Sameerah,
    Thanks for your comment. Most recruiters for Saudi will allow you to bring your family with you, but this differs between different companies – I’d advise you to check with your recruiter.
    The best of luck!

  31. Sameerah says:

    Thank you
    Im excited to begin my research for jobs. Im currently attending Oxford Seminars.

  32. Sameerah says:

    Does anyone know of any companies currently hiring for ESL Instructors in Saudi Arabia?
    Thank you

  33. Hash84 says:

    Hi I would like to ask if the employers are willing to pay for dependents of the female, spouse and 2 children to accompany her to Saudi should she be successful in getting a job as an EFL teacher.


  34. Kerry says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Many companies in Saudi are happy to support the dependants of ESL teachers – the specifics are decided by the company though, so it’s always best to check what exactly is included.

  35. Hash84 says:

    Hi, thanks Kerry, I have found loads of unis offering dependent sponsorship after I wrote this. Thanks for the info.

    One thing I have noticed is that a lot of places offer one year contracts. Is it possible to renew the contracts at the end of the year? Is it a better idea to go for a two year contract from the start? I don’t know if its worth it to make a big move with family just for a year.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated

  36. Kerry says:

    Hi there,
    You’re welcome – I’m glad your search is fruitful so far!
    Most companies will want to keep hold of good teachers, so there’s certainly a possibility of extending your year’s contract to two years. It’s best to speak with your future employer about this though, so that they can consider your case individually and help you make the decision.
    The best of luck!

  37. Hash84 says:

    Any females taught at Effat Uni, Prince Sultan, King Saud, Taif Uni or King Abdul Aziz Uni? What are the benefits and salaries like?
    Are there gym for ladies outside the compounds? Do the unis offer compound accommodation?

  38. Karen says:

    Hi there,
    I am british/canadian and don’t have a degree. I have a certified financial planner designation in Canada. I would like to take TEFL so i can teach english to children in Riyadh and I’m wondering if it would be possible to teach english with these qualifications if i completed TEFl?
    Thank you

  39. Abdul aleem says:

    Hi i have completed celta no other degrees with few years experience anyone know of any jobs going?

  40. priya says:

    Hey, I am a postgraduate in English and about to complete my Mphil in English. I also have Oxford online TEFL certification. so am I eligible for a job in Saudi Arabia?

  41. priya says:

    Hey, I am a postgraduate in English and about to complete my Mphil in English. I also have Oxford online TEFL certification. so am I eligible for a job in Saudi Arabia as an ESL instructor? If not what are the other qualifications and certificates I require.

  42. Great and a very useful blog for me. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  43. usma hassan says:

    Hiya guys, just wandering if anybody can tell me what education system is in place for children if we take children with us, and would we have to pay for their education or will the company be willing to pay on behalf of the teacher?

  44. NILIMA KAWSER says:

    I live in Australia. I am an Australian citizen. I have been in Australia for a long time. I have finished my Tesol certificate iv from university of new south wales. It is a reputed university in Australia. I have my masters degrees from different field.

    Am I eligible to apply in Saudi Arabia. I am not a native english speaker but has high proficiency in English as I studies in University of New South Wales.
    Would I be able to get some answers.

  45. Meera says:

    I am an America-Arab, native speaker of English (I also speak Arabic, French, and Spanish). am currently looking for a position as an ESL/EFL instructor in Jeddah. I will graduate with an MA in Linguistics and I have earned a graduate certification TESOL at an American university. I am currently teaching at an American intensive English program.

    Cany anyone provide information on how to secure a job in Jeddah?


  46. charlie says:

    Hello, I’m thinking about teaching in Saudi Arabia. I’m a 23 year old male who has been teaching in China for 3 years.

    Many jobs say that they will provide your wife with a visa, but how about a girlfriend?

    Also I don’t have a degree, but I have a TEFL and 3 years exp, will I still have opportunities in Saudi Arabia?

    Thanks for your help!

  47. Kerry says:

    Hi Charlie,
    Thanks for your comment. As Saudi Arabia is a very conservative country, many jobs will only provide visa support and accommodation for family by marriage. It’s worth asking your prospective employers personally though.
    A degree is also usually required to teach English in Saudi, because the teaching can be that much more demanding. Again, this varies by employer so I’d advise making some direct enquiries.
    I hope this helps.

  48. Hafsa Sarwar says:

    I want information that is there any administration job in female universities and schools of KSA for females as am working with bank in Pakistan and need job in KSA. Please reply and oblige

  49. Aadila says:

    Hello Everyone. My name is Aadila and I ahve receintly been accepted to work as an ESL teacher at Princess Noura University in Riyadh. I will be going to Riyadh with my husband and we were offered accomodation on campus. I have read the comments that were previoulsy posted and i must thank you all as it is really helpful to get hands on advice. I am quite excited and extremely nervous about this opportunity as this will be my first time travelling and working with Foreign students. I need some advice on what to prepare before I arrive in Riyadh please. I would like to know about the dress code for work as well.
    Thanking you all in advance.
    Warm Regards

  50. Kerry says:

    Hi Aadila,
    Congratulations on your new TEFL role! We’re glad you’ve found this thread helpful.
    We don’t currently recruit for roles in Saudi Arabia, so I wouldn’t want to give specific advice regarding dress codes etc; it’s best to ask your new employers for the specifics, or perhaps somebody on this thread would be kind enough to offer some advice.
    The best of luck!

  51. hafsa says:

    Kerry Can you please reply & oblige

  52. Kerry says:

    Hi Hafsa,
    As stated, unfortunately we do not recruit for jobs in Saudi Arabia.
    The best of luck with your search!

  53. Daisy Andal Vicencio says:

    Hello everyone there!
    Thanks to this info. I am about to teach in another university though I havent signed a contract yet. Is anyone out there have already experienced teaching at Ha’il University? Can you please tell me the teaching atmosphere, the accomodation and the salary and allowances? Is these being given outright upon arrival , the so called advance payment for you dont have any penny to spend with?
    Thank you so much?

  54. Faheema says:

    Dear Aadila

    I too was afford a sample contract in February this year with another recruitment agency, but was not able to take the position since the recruiter told me that PNU does not take any dependents. I was quite saddened by the news. But after reading your email I just wondered how you were able to get this contract since you took your husband along. Please can you tell me which recruitment agency you went with. I hope you can help. Many thanks.

  55. Moska says:

    I have been trying to get into PNU but without any luck. I have a masters degree in business administration and a year of teaching experience. I do know that this thread is for English language teachers but I was just wondering if any of you ladies know how to pass my CV to the concerned persons.
    I live in Saudi Arabia so I do not really need a visa. I would be considered as a local hire. Sending emails generates absolutely no response! :(
    Please help.
    P.S- Want to teach courses in business just so we are clear:)

  56. Khadija Bukhari Riza says:

    Hi Abdulla Aslem
    Hello, I graduate from University of Peradeniya SriLanka,also done MPHIL in Medicale Geography.
    I have 16 years experience in English medium teacher at Government and Private Schiils. Im thinking about teaching English, Science History or Geography in abroad at a ladies College or University.will u help me. Really I am attracted to teaching English in Saudi Arabia Thanks!

  57. noman Ahmad says:

    is there any policy refraning females in Ksa having a enginering or a medical backgroud form teaching in the primarary or secondarary school in female schools ???

  58. […] A brief guide for females teaching in Saudi Arabia – LoveTEFL – Few countries in the world today offer such riches and rewards for English teachers as Saudi Arabia. But what can female teachers expect? […]

  59. Reem says:

    Hi guys, I have just completed a year in KSA, it has been fantastic. I am looking to return soon. If you are looking for employment, seriousteachers is a fantastic website for jobs in Saudi Arabia.

    Good luck guys!

  60. sithabile. says:

    A lady teacher aged 51 . holding a Diploma and a primary teaching with more than 10 years of experience. looking for a teaching post in SaudArabia. I am a Zimbabwean by birth.

    Have taught in a variety of schools with English as a medium of istrunction.producing good results

    would be happy if my application would be put into consideration.

    thanking you in advance
    Yours faithfully

    Sithabile Dube.

  61. amr says:

    i’m living in jeddah and want to improve my English language skills to test ILTS

    i need private lesson even online

  62. Its a very informative blog for me. After reading this blog, I am very much benefited. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep sharing.

  63. Polly says:

    As a native British teacher with a degree and a PGCE would i need a TEFL to get a job at a Saudi sschool , if so would the Saudi Authorities accept an online TEFL course as I have had years of teaching experience.

  64. Arifa Anjum says:

    Assalamualaikym I’m arifa anjum from India looking for English teacher post in KSA. I have completed my post graduate with M.A literature. I have 8 years of experienced in teaching. I’m married with three children . my age is 30.

  65. Sanae says:

    Hello everyone!How can a ESL Moroccan teacher with an MA in ‘Women’s Studies’, with a destinction, find a teaching job in Saudi Arabia? Thank you.

  66. Sanae says:

    Hello everyone!How can a ESL Moroccan teacher with an MA in ‘Women’s Studies’, with a distinction, find a teaching job in Saudi Arabia? Thank you.

  67. Sara says:

    Hi i want teacher teaching me english i love in saudi in riyad please let me know who can teaching me ?

  68. Ayesha mumtaz says:

    I am Ayesha mumtaz. My qualification is MA ARABIC,MA ISLAMIAT, I am married having four kids kids,I am teaching Fauji foundation model school in rawalpindi, pakistan since 2002, i am 41 years old, I teaching jobs in Saudi Arabia

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