Travel & Teach - Qatar
If this Oil rich state is your destination, then you will find that there is a lot of ancient history to discover. It is believed that the Qatar peninsula was inhabited as long ago as 4000BC as European archaeological expeditions found rock carvings and groups of pottery that indicate human presence at that time. Ancient maps of the region suggest that and explorers knew of the presence of civilised settlements there. However, more recent history is clearer. Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar has transformed itself from a poor British protectorate into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. A bloodless coup in 1995 saw the current Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani overthrow his father and take control of the country.
Oil and natural gas revenues enable Qatar to have a per capita income not far below the leading industrial countries of Western Europe. Oil accounts for more than 30% of GDP, roughly 80% of export earnings, and 58% of government revenues. The capital city of Doha is situated on a calm bay halfway along the East Coast of the Qatar peninsula. It is inhabited by 80% of the population and it is the commercial and cultural centre of the country. Qatar is an Arab-Islamic country and if you are into your history, it could be an interesting place to teach.
Tourism to Qatar is being increasingly promoted through the Internet, although it is not as developed as some other countries in the region, such as the U.A.E. The sun shines all the year round in Qatar, but as in much of this region, it can get very hot and uncomfortable. Temperatures will peak at around 50oC in high summer.
It should be remembered that Qatar is an Islamic state, although the laws that govern everyday social interaction are more relaxed in comparison to other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia. Qatar is a dry state, but liquor is available. That said, drinking alcohol (or being drunk) public can lead to problems, and teachers should be aware of local laws and customs. A useful website for more information is British Foreign and Commonwealth Office located at: http://www.fco.gov.uk. Click on the travel section, and then enter the word QATAR into the search section. A list of entries will appear, including some useful travellers tips.
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in Qatar: http://www.britishcouncil.org/qatar.htm
Qatari Embassy UK: http://qatar.embassyhomepage.com/
Qatari Embassy USA: http://www.qatarembassy.net/
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My husband and I re-located to Qatar 10 months ago and settled into the relaxed lifestyle very quickly. The only stressful thing in Doha is the driving. The rules are there are no rules. Public Transport is non existent but taxis and limousines are widely available and very reasonably priced.
Doha is expanding massively and with the Asia games being held here in 2006, there are buildings going up, right, left and centre. The cost of living is around the same as in the UK. However I would recommend anyone coming to live here makes sure their accommodation is included in their package as rent is very expensive, with a 2 bedroom apartment costing around 7000 Riyals per month (approx. 1000 GBP).
In my opinion Qatar is ideal for families and couples, but there is not a lot on the social scene for single people. Most single people are here to save money and this is a stepping stone.
I have not taught any EFL as yet, but I am currently studying the Global English Level 2 TESOL course. My plan is to set up Tutoring Courses for both Adults and Children from home. You can earn between 15GBP to 30GBP (tax free) per hour for private tutoring. I aim to do both group lessons and private tutoring.
The TESOL course is fantastic for me as I have a 2 month old baby, therefore I can study and tutor from home and will also be able to pick the hours I work. I cannot wait to get started and look forward to a long and successful EFL career.
Travel and Teach
If applying from abroad, try the Internet first. You are more likely to find positions advertised through websites such as www.eflweb.com and www.tefl.com than in the traditional UK recruiting press. However the Times Educational Supplement (Fridays) usually carries advertisements for larger companies and organisations recruiting within the region. As previously mentioned, if you are a spouse of an expat. worker, it should not be too difficult to pick up some local work. Parents who would like their children to learn English from a native speaker rarely look at qualifications and this practice is well established. Always be culturally sensitive in terms of the content of your teaching material, as it can be easy to unwittingly offend. The British Council has a teaching centre in Doha (see Useful Numbers later) and they may be able to advise on names and addresses of local schools and colleges that have an EFL teaching requirement. Alternatively the large American chain English Language Centres has a school in Qatar (as well as other countries throughout the region) and this may be worth a speculative enquiry.
It is not advisable to travel to the Middle East and find work on spec, although you can gain entry to Qatar on a tourist visa. It should be fairly easy to work legally if you are established in the region with a partner who is already working there. Otherwise you will need sponsorship from a company or a school. Contact the Qatari Embassy before you travel to ensure you have the latest information on entry conditions and your local health centre for up to date advice on any inoculations necessary. However a degree, EFL certificate and some teaching experience should help you secure employment from abroad.
As with the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia (and other states in the region), teachers generally come to Qatar for one of two reasons: either they are attracted by the prospect of lucrative pay or they are accompanying a partner who is working in the region. Qatar can afford to pay well for teachers from overseas, although we tend to see far fewer opportunities advertised than for some of the other countries in the region. But opportunities are increasing and if you area able to get a contract then, as with most Middle East countries, you are likely to be offered offer return airfare, paid accommodation, generous holidays and a full year contract (rather than the typical 9-10 months seen in mainland Europe). But also along with other Middle East countries, contracts are normally open to the only very well qualified (usually up to diploma level and beyond) and experienced (often 5 years’ teaching experience is a minimum requirement). So it may not be the location for the first time teacher.
For many, life in the Middle East is not a long-term option. This is generally because of the challenging cultural differences to the West and the claustrophobia of living in what can seem a false expat. community. Qatar is a destination likely to have been chosen by many for purely financial reasons and the thought of money alone may not always see you through the difficult or tiring classes.
If applying from abroad, ensure everything is absolutely secured in writing before leaving. There are stories of teachers arriving in the region only to find that the salary and benefits are not as good as originally promised. However, you can expect paid airfares and a tax-free salary of around £12,000 - £25,000 (UK residents please note: to avoid a large tax bill on return to the UK, obtain a ‘working overseas’ form from the tax office). Accommodation often comes with the job and can be luxurious. If you have secured work as a married couple, the contract will often provide free health care and school fees; otherwise you will need to make sure you have some form of health cover before you go.