Living and working in Kuwait – The Pearl of the Gulf
This week’s guest post is written by none other than my mom! Mary Kelly decided to start applying to teach abroad after retiring as a Principal in Canada. She set out to work at an international school abroad but had a lot of trouble because of the age restrictions set in many countries. But with her credentials, experience, and perseverance she got a Principal position in Kuwait and has been there for almost 3 years! Today she is going to tell us about teaching in Kuwait based on her personal experiences and what she’s learned over the past 3 years.
Kuwait is often an overlooked and undervalued option for teachers but offers a very safe and supportive environment for teachers to grow and gain teaching experience while traveling and exploring the middle east. I’ve asked my mom to write about her experiences working in Kuwait if you’re interested in teaching there!
It’s important to note that to be eligible for teaching positions in most of the Middle East you need to be an accredited teacher with a teaching certificate or a Bachelors in education (Masters is also welcome of course). An undergraduate degree and TEFL certificate will NOT fly here! For more information on working for International schools refer to these blog posts:
- International Teaching Jobs – Everything you Need to Know!
- How to get Certified as a Teacher Living Abroad
Thank you, Eliza, for the opportunity to post some information on working in the Gulf region of the Middle East. I am an educator and researcher, working in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) area of the Middle East, in the country of Kuwait. When I set out to work internationally and complete my research in international education I was initially looking at other countries, mostly Asian and European countries. Then I came across an opportunity of teaching in Kuwait.
Living and WOrking in Kuwait
Kuwait is part of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) which includes the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar,Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Each country is a unique and fascinating area of the middle east to visit. One of the most popular destinations for expats living and teaching in Kuwait is Dubai. It is in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and is a short one-hour flight away. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and a destination many educators are aware of for the development of their Knowledge City. Kuwait and the GCC area, in general, is a booming area for education with lots of opportunities for qualified teachers and school leaders to work and grow in their careers. The lifestyle in the GCC, is very comfortable as well with all the amenities you would need, and then some. Teachers working in international schools in Kuwait are well paid and there are no taxes on income or anything purchased, and while the benefits vary, in general, you are provided furnished housing, paid utilities, yearly airline tickets, international health care and an end of service indemnity. The school I work at also pays for staff to attend a conference, once a year, anywhere in the world.
For more information about her school: Universal American School
On a personal note, living in Kuwait for the past three years has opened my eyes to another part of the world that many people in the West are not that familiar with. Having worked as an Elementary School Principal in Canada, I wanted to work in an International School to experience the difference between working in a public national system. The learning curve has been steep. Aside from the differences in school systems and practices, working in another culture with a largely ESL population of students requires new learning and ways of adapting. It has informed my understanding of how critical an understanding of the culture is and how that understanding informs your approach to working with students, parents and the community. Adapting to living in another culture requires change but also provides a vast array of rich opportunities. I have met some of the most amazing people in the schools I have worked in and also at the conferences I have attended in the area.
And now…back to Kuwait
The population of Kuwait is approximately 70% expatriates, the majority coming from the countries of India, Egypt, and the Philippines. Since the discovery of oil in Kuwait, the development of Kuwait has relied on the labour of expats from other countries. The growth of international schools has brought more expats from western, English speaking countries. English is very commonly used in the day to day interactions of life in Kuwait. The development in Kuwait has been very impressive, even in the short period of time I have been here. Efforts to create green spaces, parks and community areas for gatherings is continuous and there are many cultural and arts events taking place in some of the most beautiful buildings. Of course, as Kuwait’s coastline is along the Arabian Gulf, this coastline provides beautiful areas for walking, biking and running as well as other tourist attractions.
Teaching in Kuwait
There are a lot of international schools in Kuwait and the Middle East, in general, has the second highest growth rate in international schools. Most of the students who attend the international school I work at are from Kuwait with a small percentage of students who are the children of expats. It is important for teachers to know that there has been a growing demand from families in host countries for their children to attend international schools. This had led to the increase in the number of international schools worldwide and the change in student population in international schools.
While the children of expats from western countries attend international schools, 80% of students are often from the host countries (ISC Research, 2018). Working in an international school requires the skills to work with a large number of ESL students and also work with other teachers and staff members who are from many other countries. The American school I work in has staff from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, India and other Arabic countries.
Part of the excitement of working internationally is the learning that takes place on a daily basis as you listen to the stories of your students and the people you work with who come from all over the world. It really does give you an appreciation of the perspectives of people from all over the world and also how education is impacting changes in the world.
Like it? Share it!
Thinking about teaching in Kuwait?
If you are interested in working at an international school in Kuwait, please contact me for information on the recruiting process.
For more information on the school, have a look at the job description here: American International School Teaching Position