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Everything you need to know about becoming an international teacher in Saudi Arabia

International teachers

Living and working in Saudi Arabia offers international teachers to experience a vibrant culture while meaningfully contributing to the nation’s educational landscape.

Competitive salaries and often generous benefits, including accommodation and health insurance, provide a strong financial foundation, while a thriving expatriate community, and numerous cultural events and festivals make Saudi Arabia a welcoming destination.

In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about becoming an international teacher in Saudi Arabia, including visa requirements, cost of living, healthcare, cultural expectations and norms, and expat communities.


Visa requirements for international teachers in Saudi Arabia

International teachers planning to work in Saudi Arabia will need to obtain a work visa. Firstly, international teachers must secure a job offer from a recognised educational institution in Saudi Arabia. This employing institution becomes the official sponsor for the visa application.

Once the job offer is secured, your new employer will provide you with an official visa invitation letter, a key document required for the visa application process. This letter serves as official confirmation of the job and sponsorship by the educational institution.

You are then required to complete an online visa application through the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Saudi Arabian consulate/embassy in your home country. This application typically includes personal information, details about the job, and the visa invitation letter.

A mandatory medical examination is part of the visa application process. You may need to undergo specific health checks to ensure they meet the health requirements set by Saudi authorities. Additionally, you may be required to provide a criminal background check or police clearance certificate as part of the visa application.

Certain documents, such as academic certificates and the job offer letter, may need to be authenticated by the relevant authorities in your home country and the Saudi embassy.

Once the application is approved, you will receive a visa stamp on your passport from the Saudi consulate or embassy. This final step is crucial for entering the Kingdom, and you should ensure that all necessary documentation is in order and initiate the process well in advance of the planned start date to contribute to a smooth and successful visa application experience.

For detailed information, visit the Saudi Arabian government website.


Cost of living for international teachers in Saudi Arabia

The cost of living for international teachers in Saudi Arabia varies depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and family size. Generally, Saudi Arabia offers a relatively high standard of living for expatriates, with competitive salaries and numerous amenities.

One of the significant contributors to living expenses is housing. Many international schools in Saudi Arabia provide housing or housing allowances as part of the employment package, alleviating a significant portion of the cost. The type and location of accommodation, whether in expatriate compounds or local neighbourhoods, can influence the overall housing expenses.

While certain goods, such as imported items, can be relatively more expensive, the cost of local products and services is generally reasonable. Utilities, groceries, and transportation costs are often manageable, contributing to a comfortable lifestyle for international teachers.

Saudi Arabia does not impose income tax on individuals, which is a significant financial advantage for expatriates. However, other expenses such as schooling for children, health insurance, and occasional travel may contribute to the overall cost of living.

Cost of living in Riyadh (USD)

Rent for one-bedroom apartment in city centre – $1,085 per month
Rent for one-bedroom apartment outside city centre – $690 per month
Loaf of bread – $1.05
Litre of milk – $1.75
12 eggs – $2.60
Takeaway coffee – $4.50
Meal for two at mid-range restaurant – $53.35
Meal at inexpensive restaurant – $8.00


Healthcare for international teachers in Saudi Arabia

Healthcare for international teachers in Saudi Arabia is characterised by a robust system that combines public and private services. Saudi Arabia places a high priority on the well-being of its residents and expatriates, offering accessible medical facilities, often equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

Pharmacies are widely available, and both prescription and over-the-counter medications are accessible. It’s advisable for international teachers to familiarise themselves with the locations of medical facilities and pharmacies in their area.

Overall, healthcare in Saudi Arabia is of a high standard, and international teachers can expect to receive quality medical care.

Many international schools in Saudi Arabia offer health insurance as part of their employment package.


Cultural expectations and norms for international teachers in Saudi Arabia

International teachers in Saudi Arabia navigate a cultural landscape deeply rooted in Islamic traditions, and fostering a successful experience requires a nuanced understanding and respect for these unique norms.

Modesty in dress, particularly for women, and adherence to Islamic dietary restrictions are central aspects of daily life. Gender segregation is commonly practiced in public spaces and schools, influencing the dynamics of interactions with students, colleagues, and community members.

Politeness is highly valued, with the use of common Islamic greetings such as “As-salamu alaykum” fostering positive connections. Demonstrating cultural sensitivity extends to avoiding sensitive topics and embracing local customs, including refraining from public displays of affection.

Recognising and respecting the hierarchical structures within Saudi Arabian society is crucial, with the use of appropriate titles and deference to authority contributing to positive professional relationships. The importance of patience and flexibility is emphasised, as unexpected changes in schedules or events may occur.

Engaging with the local community through participation in events, gatherings, and cultural activities not only demonstrates an interest in Saudi Arabian traditions but also contributes to building meaningful relationships.


Expat communities for international teachers in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia boasts thriving expatriate communities, providing a supportive network for international teachers as they navigate their professional and personal journeys in the Kingdom. Cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam host diverse expat communities, offering a blend of professional connections, social interactions, and cultural experiences.

Within these expat circles, international teachers find valuable resources and practical advice, making it easier to adapt to the local environment. Online forums, social media groups, and expat organisations contribute to the sense of community, enabling teachers to connect, share experiences, and gain insights into the nuances of living and working in Saudi Arabia.

Engaging with Saudi Arabia’s expatriate community extends beyond professional support, providing a platform for personal growth and cross-cultural friendships. Social events, cultural outings, and community initiatives are often organised, allowing teachers to immerse themselves in the diverse expatriate experience. The expat communities in Saudi Arabia, comprising individuals from various backgrounds and professions, create an inclusive atmosphere that adds vibrancy to daily life.

Whether seeking advice on local amenities, exploring the unique cultural landscape, or simply forging connections with like-minded individuals, Saudi Arabia’s expatriate communities offer a valuable support system for international teachers, contributing to a positive and enriching experience.


Schrole international schools in Saudi Arabia

Ready to find out what Saudi Arabia has to offer you? Explore Schrole international schools in Saudi Arabia now:

The KAUST School

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$50 USD per year
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  • Ability to create a unique educator profile that holds your references and important documents, such as teaching qualifications, all in one location.
  • Access to our entire database of 400+ international schools representing 100+ countries.
  • 5,000+ teaching vacancies every recruitment season.
  • Unlimited number of job applications.
  • Custom alerts so you’re the first to hear when your preferred roles are posted.
  • Access to virtual and in-person recruitment events with school leaders and recruiters.

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Free membership
  • Ability to create a unique educator profile that holds your references and important documents, such as teaching qualifications, all in one location.
  • Access to our entire database of schools to discover your next teaching role.
  • Submission of three job applications.

Schrole has been a reliable platform for us to access strong candidates and Schrole staff have been very helpful throughout the recruiting process. I very much look forward to a long working relationship with Schrole.

Brian Lalor  Primary Principal 
 Xi’an Liangjiatan International School
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Xi’an Liangjiatan International School