New teachers already see long-term future in the UAE

The surge in teachers flocking to the UAE is down to several factors, including the attraction of living in the Emirates

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Teachers new to the UAE have said they already see their new jobs as long-term postings.

On Monday, thousands of teachers started new roles in classrooms across the Emirates, as schools opened their doors again for the start of the new academic year.

For many, it was the first time they had taught in classrooms with such a wide range of nationalities and cultures.

Despite arriving in the UAE weeks ago, many have quickly settled into their new lives.

“This is my first time working in the UAE and it's scary but exciting. It's all of those things,” Omari Ramsay, 34, a maths teacher from London who started at Greenfield International School in Dubai, told The National.

For now, it's two years but I already feel like it's going to be extended
Sally Dawoud, teacher

“I've got a two-year contract but I have only been in the country for two weeks. Teaching in a new country for the first time and not knowing what to expect was playing on my mind a little bit.

“However, within five minutes of being in front of the pupils, it all just rolled away.”

The surge in teachers flocking to the UAE is down to several factors, including the attraction of living in the Emirates, along with the global cost-of-living crisis and borders opening up again following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I was very, very surprised about there being so many different nationalities in just one room, let alone the school itself, which is completely different to what I've taught in the past,” said Mr Ramsay.

“But the fact that they're just so responsive, it's so welcoming.

“It lays a nice groundwork for myself moving forward for the rest of the academic year.”

Sleepless with excitement

A common theme of a new school year is a focus on families making the final preparations and the nerves around children starting school for the first time.

However, the nerves were not exclusive to the pupils and their families, as another teacher explained.

“People always think it's the parents who are nervous. But, guess what? The teachers are very nervous, too!” said Canadian Sally Dawoud, 33, who has begun teaching music at Gems American Academy, Abu Dhabi.

“This was my first experience of teaching internationally and it was very nerve-racking.

“I didn't sleep much on Sunday night with excitement but once I stepped into the classroom and met the pupils on Monday morning, it was great.”

Like many other new teachers, Ms Dawoud has signed a two-year contract, however she is already looking beyond that.

“For now, it's two years but I already feel like it's going to be extended,” she said.

“It's been great so far getting to meet all these new people and getting to know the school system here.

“It already feels like it's the right fit for me.”

More than one million pupils embarked on the new academic year on Monday as schools reopened following the summer holidays.

For many schools, it was also the first time they had welcomed pupils back without face masks since the beginning of the pandemic.

A whole new world

Preparation was the key to overcoming the nerves that naturally come with a new job in a new country, said Jessica Hulme, an elementary teacher at Greenfield International School, Dubai.

“Obviously it was frightening but I had a week and half to prepare after arriving,” Ms Hulme said

“I felt I was as ready as I could be and I absolutely loved it.”

One of the main highlights for the Mancunian Ms Hulme on her first day was the opportunity to teach children from numerous nationalities.

“It creates a diverse and multicultural attitude that which is really positive,” said the 30-year-old.

“There are children from so many different nationalities which is perfect for me because I always liked to travel.”

The opportunity to work with pupils from so many countries was also a major factor for another teacher from the UK to make the move to the UAE.

“The advantage of working in an international school is the diversity of the students, with more than 100 different nationalities here which makes a big difference,” said geography teacher Christopher Seymour, 43, who is teaching at Gems Wellington Academy, Al Khail.

“It creates a cultural richness, which as a geographer I'm really pleased about because that can be a strength when students are sharing experiences.”

Updated: September 13, 2023, 9:16 AM