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Middle East - Is it worth the risk?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by MisterMaker, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    I don't work in the ME as many of you know, so this is purely a discussion point:
    With some many regimes falling in the Middle East and so much uncertainty in the region as a whole, is it wise to accept job offers for September? What would you advise to those who have already signed a contract?
    Much has been written lately about Egypt, home of some many expat teachers, and stories are growing of many teachers not returnjing there to complete their contracts, but what of the rest of the region. Is there anywhere you would or wouldn't go right now?
    How about the 'grand-daddy' of them all, Saudi, where the pay is often amongst the highest (because so few really want to work there, but a year or two to pay large chunks of mortgage helps). Is this country in danger at all?
    Who would ever have expected Bahrain, once a place many would have been happy to work at, to have the wobbles?
    Many years ago I applied to the BS in Tripoli, but was offered a better salary somewhere else before the interview (I still turned up to the interview, one has to be polite). Would anyone consider this a sensible spot even with the good money available?
    Has anyone applied, or worked in, any of these countries before and wouldn't go now? (I'm a one time Dubai teacher, don't think there's likelihood of problems there, so if I was looking right now I'd probably include it in my OK list).
    Just throwing it out there for discussion. [​IMG]
  2. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Utter ignorance of all things Middle-Eastern will not keep me out of this one.
    Like any ignorant person, I have my Bible at hand to help, and here's what it foretells (Isaiah 19):
    Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. And the spirit of Egypt shall fail thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. And the Egyptians will I give over into the hands of a cruel lord, and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.
    Now, when the prophet says 'Egypt', he refers to the Arab world in general, so we can expect things to get worse before they get better.
    After a confused period of revolutionary and religious mumbo-jumbo - idols, charmers and wizards, the area will fall under a 'cruel lord'. This is the natural course of many revolutions, like France 1789, Russia 1917, Iran 1979.
    Later in the same prophecy, we read:
    ...They have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof. The Lord hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof, and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.
    This is a clear reference to ex-patriate teachers, supposedly 'the stay of the tribes thereof' ie: tutors to the children of the current pro-Western establishment. These teachers have 'mingled a perverse spirit', by introducing practices like Golden Time, Literacy Hour, ToK, the MYP, and Rugby.
    The strikingly relevant final image needs no further exegesis.
    Unless you are the kind of Christian who thinks that being in the Middle East during the 'End Times' will get you a priority boarding pass on the day of 'The Rapture', you are probably better off staying in Nempnett Thrubwell or venturing, if venture you must, only to the safer capital cities of boring old Europe. Where we will welcome and pamper you.
  3. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Yeah, I'm experiencing a little bit of Schadenfreude over this one. I had an application in at what seemed to be a nice school, and I never heard back. I wonder if the successful candidate will now do a runner.
  4. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Dude! What are you on????? I need some.
  5. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Locusts and wild honey, honey. [​IMG]

  6. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Last time I checked, the local dealer was out of that but we do have plenty of mozzies. Unfortunately, they are ingesting me rather than the other way round.
  7. Syria1

    Syria1 New commenter

    And lo the prophets spoke unto the people - wonderful post SMT. If you want a nice safe country, try Syria. A not so nice regime, but wonderful people and very friendly and hospitable. Aleppo is one of the favourites, and it has the Baron Hotel where you can admire T.E. Lawrence's bar bill on the wall... and then go off an buy a carpet and some olive oil soap.
  8. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    I am in Qatar and have recently returned from Bahrain. The middle east is not one place. Some people include north africa in the definition of the middle east. Qatar is different from Bahrain which is very different from Libya. North Africa has several countries which have dictators, uneven distribution of wealth and opportunity and that is always a powder keg waiting to go off. Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have no such uneven distribution of wealth and opportunity so no danger of uprisings there. I am happy here and I would recommend it to anyone.
  9. percy topliss

    percy topliss Occasional commenter

    So basically when I was in Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar all of the Keralan houseboys and fillipina maids were earning the same as the Arabs? Don't talk twaddle and potentially dangerous twaddle at that. Most of these regimes are just like Bahrain, outwardly all is well but scratch the surface and you will that one section of the population is normally subjugated and banned from a lot of the better jobs.

    So if a man takes control of a country, calls himself King, appoints his family members to top government posts, let's 10% of the populace rule through an appointed senate, made up out of the 10% is he not a dictator? Because that is Bahrain.

    The fact of the matter is that the ME is no longer the land of milk and honey. You can earn more in China than in many schools in Dubai. OP stick to Malaysia it has another ten years before it too turns to a disaster area.
  10. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    Dear Perce,
    There is absolutely no possibility that the Filipino workers will revolt. Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya all had revolts by the indigenous disadvantaged. The states which have contented indigenous populations will never revolt. Thats all I was saying. The OP was asking for opinions on the pros and cons of working here. Your point that the middle east only works because there is a large army of poorly paid workers is well made and I agree with you. Your description of Bahrain is spot on. But you cant apply the same description to Qatar which is only 25 miles away.
  11. Having lived here in the UAE for the last 4 years and visited many of the other countries who are currently experiencing difficulties in the past, I have to agree with qatarsoon. If you look at the ME / North Africa region the countries who are going to remain stable for the forseeable future are those with oil wealth that they have distributed to their indigenous population. That is why Bahrain has come unstuck. Whilst the UAE's large migrant labour force are not treated as fairly as westerners might wish they are still comparatively better off than back home and able to support their families who remain there (Having lived in India too I speak form experience). This is not a perfect system but when you look at some of the whacko PC / Human Rights / Health and Safety nonsense going on back in places like the UK people in glasshouses are not really in a position to throw stones at a set up that works here. That is because the majority of the indigenous population neither know of, or care to operate, within a "western democracy" system. (Another phrase one can use very loosely.)
    For a country that is less than 40 years old the UAE has made absolutely amazing strides - achieving development in under two generations that took centuries and several revolutions in European and North American countries to achieve. Inevitably people view historical and political systems through their own cultural lens but surely as role models for future generations should Perce and his mates not be able to view what goes on here and elsewhere around the World with a slightly better informed and "objective" mindset. The interesting question is going to be what is likely to happen here when the oil runs out - will they have used their petro dollars / dirhams to sufficiently good effect to provide future stability?
  12. percy topliss

    percy topliss Occasional commenter

    Desert Camel. I bow to your superior knowledge. Four years eh? Amazing! I think that I will keep a copy of your post though, just in case. By the way, I heard from a friend of mine today she is in Rome. This time last week she was in Libya looking forward to months end and paying her mortgage back in the UK, ain't gonna happen now. Another friend, who has been in Bahrain for over 20 years says that this is the worst he has ever seen things.
    I might just say, never say never. You can't negotiate with people who have nothing which is how one side of the Arab world always seems to be. However I don't live there any more so I will just say good luck, and remember to look under your car in the mornings!


  13. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    I was once given a special mirror with long handle by my school of the time. No one expected that things would change the way it did. Regardless of thoughts such as, on Egypt was prime target for revolt, few in that country really expected things to turn out like that.
    I'd caution Desertcamel about being too complacent. "the countries who are going to remain stable for the forseeable future are those with oil wealth that they have distributed to their indigenous population" You clearly have no idea do you about the real story of Dubai. A few months before I started working in Dubai there was a minor coup attempt in Shajah that went unreported. I'd argue that Dubai is relatively safe, not because oil wealth is shared as it isn't shared, but because I simply can't see it happening. There are members of some 'indigenous' tribes who don't get a share. Of course, the suggestion of indigenous population in a country that was mostly noamds fifty years ago is a bit of a nonsense.
  14. Hey Perce! Thanks for your comments, your "never say never" is duly noted. But let's not point the finger only "over here." Back in Blighty we have had our moments too - the IRA bombings of the '70s? Poll Tax riots in Leicester Square, Toxteth and Brixton? I was in close proximity to the Oxford Street Wimpy Bar and the Hyde Park bombs when they went off. Sakkara was right round the corner from the Gateway to India bomb in Mumbai. Sadly we can all be in the wrong place at the wrong time with varying degrees of consequence. This automatic superiority complex that so many westerners have is ill founded and were we to be handled in the way we have handled indigenous communities in their own back yards I doubt we would have taken it with good grace.
    Mister maker, I very much hope I am not complacent because it suggests a level of smugness that I would recoil from, I have lived in too many places including British innercities with too many potential assaults upon ones personal and property safety to do that . Dubai may not have the oilwealth of Abu Dhabi but under Sheik Zayed Emiratis are given a monthly stipend, subsidy - call it what you will. In my neck of the desert this has certainly contributed to their stability. As for the use of "indigenous" I am curious as to your definition. The local Bedouin tribes had clearly defined trade and camping routes that crisscrossed this end of the Arabian Peninsula.so they were indigenous to this region. Also if you look at the current family names in the UAE each emirate has its own main family groups who used that particular bit of the Trucial states as their base camp. A recent oral history project carried out by the students at my current school were similarly illuminating as to the local population's very strong sense of identity with their locale. (Also check out the writings of Wilfred Thesiger if you have not already done so)
    As for the unreported coup; since I have been here I am aware of at least three other instances of "unrest" being put down. Some reported some merely hearsay, these are real or imagined depending upon which conspiracy theorist you speak to - but then we have not got to the bottom of the WMD /Dr David Kelly scenario in the UK have we? So your observations are duly noted but we do live in glasshouses and I think we need to be more circumspect with what ballast what we are flinging around.

  15. Apols for the last sentence grammatical typo. I t should read ...be more circumpect with what ballast we are flinging around.
  16. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Er...Sheikh Zayed passed away a number of years ago.
    The current ruler of Abu Dhabi is Sheikh Khaliefa and the ruler of
    Dubai is Sheikh Mohammed. One could either call it a stipend or a derisory
    amount of "hush" money to keep the local population quiet and docile.
    Derisory because compared to the wealth the Sheikhs are earning from the
    oil, the amount the majority of the population receives is truly

  17. Thanks Karvol, I really do not need a history lesson on the UAE dynasties - all the ministers and the entire Executive Council is full of Al Nayhans and Maktoums with a couple of others thrown in to keep people sweet. The point was it was SET UP under Sheikh Zayed and continues to date.
    It may be derisory hush money in your eyes but I would not turn my nose up at the sums involved - certainly more than my monthly salary - which by British standards is not so bad. Furthermore as we pay very few taxes here - except the 16% you cough up on meals and stays in 5 star hotels their immense wealth is put into allsorts of stuff that the UK govenment raise taxes for and then MPs rip everybody off.
    The Sheikhs may be sitting on immeasurable wealth but they have put an awful lot of it to use within the country for peoples benefit. They may, like Ghaddafi, have taken over massive chunks of Mayfiar and Belgravia but at least they don't try to make themselves out to be revolutionaries and hypocritical leaders of "the People". It is a benevolent dictatorship but as a place to live and work I will continue to take my chances here rather than dealing with the debilitating stresses of inner city Manchester, Bristol or London.

  18. happygreenfrog

    happygreenfrog Occasional commenter

    Having lived in Saudi Arabia for 4 years, I'd say it was pretty stable, not because the people are necessarily happy, but because the tribal system that still exists means a degree of loyalty and redistribution of wealth occurs, unknown to us in the West. Further, there are huge rewards available for anyone giving infomation on political or terrorist (often lumped together as it suits their ends) activities, which I guess would also make it difficult to engage in and organise mass demonstration.
    Despite becoming softer - there are not the same number of beheadings and hand choppings as you would imagine - and paying the price - the crime levels are higher than you would guess, due in the main to the huge influx of foreign workforce and illegals staying on after Haj - it is still not a place where you would easily contemplate going against the Al Saud's.
    As such if you do fancy a large chunk of your mortgage paid off, apply away.
  19. ian60

    ian60 New commenter

  20. So would I. As someone up there said, never say 'never'. Hope it doesn't get any worse. But, as someone else up there said, the whole region is unstable; things only seem calm to outsiders, but there's plenty going on that foreigners would never be aware of.

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