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Abu Dhabi

There are many opportunities all over the world for TEFL teachers, each offering their own benefits and charms. Popular destinations include Spain, Thailand, Argentina or Italy. However, it’s always worth considering other options like Abu Dhabi. You might find something that suits you or opens your mind up to new ideas. Where you choose will depend on your preferences and profile. 

Teaching in the UAE might be something you haven’t previously considered but it certainly deserves some thought. The UAE offers an attractive lifestyle and equally attractive work packages. Many expats move for all sorts of jobs so there is a big multicultural vibe in many places in the Emirates. A lot of people concentrate on Dubai when thinking about the UAE but its capital, Abu Dhabi, is also worth thinking about. 

Teaching TEFL in Abu Dhabi is certainly possible with lots of different job offers posted every year. However, they do expect certain requirements from their candidates so it’s important to be informed before you prepare for your TEFL career and your applications. 

Why teach in Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi offers a much warmer climate for many, which attracts them to work in the Emirates. You will typically get two days off a week (usually Friday and Saturday), so you have plenty of time to enjoy the sun, do some water sports or travel to nearby regions or countries! Dubai is less than two hours away, so you can explore here, too, very easily! Currently, the tallest building in the world is in Dubai so you can visit this by bus in your free time.

Abu Dhabi has many people living there from all over the world and offers a mixture of cultures as a result. Many people speak English fluently, so communicating is no problem. It’s also a very safe place to live and offers modern facilities for those who live there. Due to the heat, most people own cars and use this as their main method of transportation. 

In terms of TEFL teaching, Abu Dhabi has some attractive offers for English teachers. The salaries are higher than what you can expect in other parts of the world (typically tax-free too) and often include accommodation. Depending on the school, you might even get return flights included. In Abu Dhabi, you have the opportunity to save some money if that’s your aim. Many teachers go for a few years to build up the savings pot and then move on or back home.


Can you teach in Abu Dhabi with a TEFL certificate?

Abu Dhabi and the Emirates, in general, have higher requirements for employing teachers than in some other countries of the world. The job packages are attractive, making the market more competitive for teachers and schools receive a high amount of applications. Teachers with more qualifications and experience are preferred. If you don’t fit this profile, the job search may be harder, but not impossible!

What do I need to teach TEFL in Abu Dhabi?

A passport from a native English-speaking country 

Some countries require teachers to have a passport from specific countries such as the UK, USA, New Zealand, Australia or Canada. This is often down to visa requirements and the schools’ preference to have a native English speaker as the TEFL teacher for their children. There is a lot of English spoken in the Emirates so someone fluent in English is often preferred. If you have grown up in an English-speaking country and therefore speak English to a native level, and are familiar with the culture, then there may be some opportunities for you also, depending on the school. Often, they might offer other positions, such as teaching another subject. 

A degree

A degree is essential for English teachers in Abu Dhabi. It is unlikely you will be offered a position without one. Education is highly valued in the Emirates, so employers prefer that their TEFL teacher has at least a Bachelor’s degree and, even better, a Master’s. If you want to obtain a role in a university, then a Master’s degree is required for these positions. 

A teaching certificate

This is another non-negotiable for teaching English in Abu Dhabi. The minimum qualification is 120 hours, but your general profile will help you choose a course that is better. If you have a teaching qualification from your own country, then a 120-hour online TEFL course would be adequate to add to your CV. However, if you don’t have a teaching license or a degree specific to education/languages, then a higher-level course, such as a Level 5 Diploma, would be better for your teaching application. Any specialist courses you can add would also be a plus, such as teaching young learners, exams, or English for business students.

A visa

To work in Abu Dhabi, you will need to obtain a visa and residence permit. Most schools will assist you with the visa process, but it’s good to do your own research and make sure you will fit the requirements in terms of nationality and job requirements. During the interview process, ask what assistance the school provides and what you need to do on your part.


Experience will always help your application stand out, although it might not always be a direct requirement. If you’re struggling to get any interviews in Abu Dhabi, try to get more TEFL experience. This could be by teaching online, teaching in another country first or volunteering. This will help make your CV pop!

Although not always a requirement, some schools like it if you have experience teaching in another Middle Eastern country to show that you have some cultural knowledge of working in this region. If you haven’t taught here but still have knowledge of Middle Eastern culture (through travel, family, or perhaps teaching students from here in another country), then highlight this in your application, as it will be a welcome add-on to your profile. Experience teaching English exams (typically IELTS) is also desired. If you don’t have this, you can take a 60-hour specialist course to help prepare you.

If you work in Abu Dhabi as a TEFL teacher, you will most likely work in international schools or private schools. You may also find work in a university if you have a Master’s degree and more experience. Of course, these jobs offer an even higher salary. 

Abu Dhabi also offers positions as private tutors or governesses for wealthy families in the area. This is a different type of role to teaching TEFL in a school, but it can still be a good opportunity to move to the Emirates and gain some experience. The roles often involve accompanying the family on trips, with all expenses paid.


Things to do in Abu Dhabi

1. The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the largest and most beautiful in the world. You can visit this amazing structure for free. You will need to dress respectfully, and women will need to cover their arms, heads and ankles in order to enter. Ensure that you are respectful. As much as it may seem a tourist attraction, it is still a place of worship, one that is deeply important to the people of Abu Dhabi and more!

2. The Louvre is an art museum on the water in Abu Dhabi. Its impressive architecture makes it worth visiting alone. Inside, the galleries are arranged chronologically to get a sense of the progress and change throughout the years.

3. Qasr Al Watan is a beautiful presidential palace that has only been open for public visits in the last few years. It’s well worth a visit to see the intricately decorated inside and granite facade.

4. If you’re into Formula One, then you can go to the world’s first Ferrari-themed theme park, which boasts the world’s fastest rollercoaster! Thrill seekers can have a great day out here!

5. Don’t forget that you’ll be living in the desert! There are many activities and excursions you can do, including sandboarding, sand safaris, desert bbqs and more.

Important points

Remember to read any contract offered to you thoroughly to understand what’s included in your job position. Packages can include accommodation, flight reimbursement, Arabic lessons, health insurance and more, so it’s important for you to know exactly what you’re getting. Ask about any additional expenses you might need to pay, including visa costs or things like internet and electricity. 

Respect local laws and customs, which might differ greatly from your own. The Emirates is a majority Muslim country. Whether you follow a religion or not, you must respect this as a resident there. For example, this means that weekends might fall on different days of the week and public consumption of alcohol isn’t allowed (but there are places you can legally drink). You might not be used to these things, but you need to accept them if you’re going to live in the Emirates. 

Living in the sun sounds like a dream, but it’s important to note that Abu Dhabi can reach very high temperatures in the summer months—up to 50+ degrees! Everywhere has air conditioning to combat this, but this might limit your time outside during the hotter months. 

Living and working in Abu Dhabi as an English teacher can open up many opportunities. It is one of the places where TEFL teachers can earn more money and save more for the future. Abu Dhabi can offer an exhilarating lifestyle, the chance to get to know a new culture, and the chance to see a beautiful part of the world!

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