Attracted by a tax-free salary and year-round sun, thousands of teachers are choosing the UAE as their second home.
Beyond the financial benefits, the country offers an opportunity for educators to broaden their horizons through cultural exchange and travel.
Speaking to The National, teachers from various countries spoke about their reasons for making the move to the Emirates and the impact it has had on their finances.
Hazra Shaikh, 37, moved from India get on the property ladder
For Hazra Shaikh, 37, an Indian teacher and head of primary at The Indian Academy in Dubai, moving to the Emirates in 2016 meant she was able accomplish her dream of buying a property in Mumbai.
“I lived in India for 30 years but was never able to purchase a house on my own,” said Ms Shaikh.
“I moved here and within seven years, I've already bought my house."
Ms Shaikh takes home a salary of between Dh8,000 to Dh9,000 per month inclusive of accommodation, whereas she would have earned between Dh2,300 and Dh2,500 per month in India.
“I saw the lifestyle, which was much better than what we get in our country and I took the decision to bring my family here,” she said.
In Mumbai, rent for a two-bedroom house ranges between Dh14,400 to Dh28,800 annually.
Ms Shaikh now pays between Dh25,000-Dh45,000 every year for a two-bedroom house in Sharjah.
“To live in a two-bedroom apartment of my own here is much more convenient with the current salary than in my home country,” she said.
The teacher said she has a disposable income of about Dh2,000 per month in the UAE but would have about Dh500 in India.
A teacher in the UAE typically receives free education for one child, a 50 per cent discount on tuition fees for a second child, medical insurance and some schools also offer accommodation allowances.
Most schools in India do not offer such benefits.
Thomas Blakemore moved from the UK for the weather, and independence
"While pay and benefits were in the back of my mind, I wanted to move to Dubai to use it as a hub to travel around the world," said Thomas Blakemore, a primary school teacher at Kent College Dubai, who creates content online to support teachers interested in moving to the UAE.
“Having a tax-free wage and accommodation offered a good opportunity to gain independence.
"I would have struggled based on my teacher salary in the UK to pay a mortgage.”
Mr Blakemore worked as a teacher in the UK for two years before he moved to the UAE.
He said many people were surprised when they found out that teaching jobs in the UK paid more overall but when one added the accommodation and the tax-free element, Dubai made more financial sense.
In the UK, Mr Blakemore would have earned Dh175,586 annually with seven year’s experience, before tax, but in the UAE he earns between Dh168,000-Dh180,000.
He said a new teacher could expect to earn between Dh9,000-Dh10,000 per month.
In the UK, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city centre outside of London can range from Dh3000 to Dh5000 per month. This is not provided by employers.
In Dubai, a one-bedroom apartment in a prime area can be secured for about Dh6,000 to Dh7,000 per month but, as a teacher in Dubai, accommodation is usually provided.
On average, groceries for one person can cost about Dh1,000 per month in the UK, while in the Emirates the bill can go up to Dh1,200 monthly.
A monthly bus or train pass in a city can cost about Dh350 to Dh500 in the UK; fuel is cheaper in the UAE, at about Dh400 per month.
In the UK, the average cost of bills such as electricity, gas, internet and council tax can range from Dh2,000 per month depending on consumption. Overall, bills in Dubai can exceed Dh1200 per month.
Rhonda Kotb, 45, moved from the US to be closer to family
Rhonda Kotb, 45, an elementary school teacher at Dubai American Academy, moved to the Emirates in 2015 to be with family and friends after her brother and best friends relocated to the country.
“To me, it’s really about the family. When I moved, it seemed like everybody close to me was here,” said Ms Kotb.
In the US, she used to have her taxes refunded after filing, as she was not in an income bracket required to pay taxes.
Ms Kotb earns between Dh15,000 to Dh20,000 a month and said her salary had increased by 35 per cent in eight years.
"My salary would have increased way faster and more if I had stayed in the US," she said.
She said she would have had options to teach extra courses and supplement her income in the US, which she did not have in the UAE.
Typical salaries at Dubai's American schools vary depending on experience.
Teachers with five to seven years’ experience earn between Dh11,000 – Dh15,000.
Ten to 18 years’ experience earns Dh15,000-Dh20,000.
Salaries get capped after 15 to 18 years and only increase for inflation.
Rana Ellaban moved from Egypt for family and lifestyle
Rana Ellaban, 35, a teacher from Egypt and mother of two, moved to the UAE in 2017 to be with her husband who had found work here.
The Arabic teacher from Alexandria got a job at The Indian Academy.
She earns about Dh4,000 to Dh5,000 per month while the same job only earned her Dh250 monthly in Egypt.
The teacher pays about Dh27,000 in rent per year for a two-bedroom house in Sharjah, while rent in Egypt for a property of similar size would range between Dh14,000 and Dh30,000 annually, depending on the area. Her house in Egypt was already paid off however.
“Life in Egypt is very hard and everything is expensive,” said Ms Ellaban.
"My salary was much lower in Egypt. I only earned Dh150 but I was getting the experience and working for fun."
She said moving to the UAE meant she quickly had to learn English, in order to converse with and teach non-Arabic speakers, which proved a challenge.
“I came here not for the money. I came here because my husband was here and got a good opportunity here," said Ms Ellaban.