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Wild Wild (Middle) East!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by TheWanderingTeacher, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. TheWanderingTeacher

    TheWanderingTeacher New commenter

    Teachers and educators, wishing to relocate to the Middle East;

    I was drawn in to the TES and other job boards advertisements promising “international schools with tax free earnings, free flights, private medical, housing allowance, sunshine all year etc”, so I decided to uproot my life, with my wife and two children in Manchester to venture to Qatar seeking this sunny life.

    “International private school with British curriculum” sounds like the Rolls Royce of schools, with the expectation that you are entering royal status as a teacher and international students being the pinnacle of students (teachers currently out here will know how the local students view school and their poor behaviour). How nice it was to dream of this life back in gloomy Manchester one January afternoon. Little did I know that it all came at a cost...

    In order to work and reside in Qatar you have to be sponsored by the company that has recruited you. Which in other words means that they “own” you.

    The current school that I am (was) working at has decided suddenly that I am too expensive to keep on payroll and can’t get rid of me as I am tied into a contract. They have therefore played dirty games and fabricated lies which meant that they terminated my contract 3 years early (signed to a 4 year contract) in order to get rid of me to cut costs. This means that I would not get a reference, have my name as a educator of 12+ years tarnished as well as the as costs and emotional pressure I put my family through promising them of a better life in the Middle East all for nothing - so I decided to fight it. Now, if you’re in the UK, you have the unions and governors to protect you. Out here, you have nothing of sorts, except Ministry of Labour, which by its name suggests, that given the situation I am in they could help. How wrong was I...

    The various government buildings that I have had to go and sort my issue out, are quite frankly chaotic and people that are in charge are all sitting on their phones with headphones in. No one speaks English, and if they do, it’s very broken and most of the time they quite frankly can’t be bothered to help you l, as it’s time away from their social media on their mobiles.

    Cut a long story short, after a month of being passed around from one government building to another, I decided to get a lawyer to help my case. I am now 3 months in, no court date and been living off my savings that I been saving up for a year out here, which is not much left as I’ve had to pay for lawyer fees.

    My case is only the tip of horror iceberg that I have heard of in Qatar, including at my current school. Schools out here do what they want. These schools are firstly businesses with shareholders, which means profit over education and profit over staff welfare.

    I am now stuck, as the school is refusing to cancel my visa and/or refusing to give me an NOC (no objection certificate, which allows you to transfer your visa to another company). I can’t go back to Manchester as my house has been rented out to tenants recently and neither my wife or I will have a job to go back to and would not be able to afford the mortgage.

    I feel that the teaching community in the UK wanting to immigrate abroad needed to know about this. I genuinely enjoy Qatar and the people are nice, but this situation can happen to anyone and organisations will fabricate lies l, as there are no Unions, no regulations and you are a small fish amongst profit hungry sharks.

    With rewards, come high risks.

    Please share your stories if you have had or are in similar situation.

  2. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    I am sorry to hear your story, I had a lesser issue a few years ago and know some of the pain you are experiencing.

    Good luck.
  3. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Let me guess. Something to do with scientific apples? Yes, your story is all too familiar, TheWanderingTeacher. I hope that things will eventually get sorted out, but you have no date fixed for your court appointment. Even if you do get a court date, it could be postponed and the legal proceedings could go on for ages. Therefore my advice would be to cut your losses and get another job elsewhere asap. How about China?
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Please tell me that you didnt just rely on this thought, and actually did some deep research on where you were going, before you took the job?
  5. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, dumbbells66, I think that the OP has had plenty of time to regret his hasty decision, if he did rush in without sufficient research beforehand. But please let's not make things worse for him.

    I do strongly feel that fighting it out in a Qatari court could become a very long and expensive business, with no guarantee of success at the end of it. Quite a few schools around the world will be hiring staff for January, so the OP should focus on getting another job elsewhere.

    To be fair to the TES, there have been several articles over the years about the pitfalls and the downsides of teaching in the ME. It is not all tax-free fun in the sun. For many schools in the ME, there are heaps of appallingly negative reviews in the *** and, alas, some of them really do tell the true story.
    Wannabsupawoman, yasf and motorhomer like this.
  6. teachersn

    teachersn New commenter

    This sounds horrific !! It’s the real downside of working abroad - you lose some of that control or security that comes with working in the UK. That said - read other forums like work placed dilemmas and the only difference is here in the uk you can go off sick and your house is still your own.
    576 likes this.
  7. HeroForTheDay

    HeroForTheDay Occasional commenter

    Just cut and run mate. No point fighting a system that isn't on your side. You're just wasting your own time, money and effort trying to change a system that protects their own. Your reputation can be rebuilt, or it doesn't even need to take a hit at all if you creatively word your CV. Jobs are available all over the world currently, so get applying and get out.
    Mr_Frosty and yasf like this.
  8. Mr_Frosty

    Mr_Frosty Established commenter

    I am not an expert by any means but this seems like the best course of action, look for another job now outside of Qatar and if you get one leave. Easier said than done I'm sure, and no reference will make things harder but i have known a number of teachers over the years here in the UAE who have left for a variety of reasons without a reference from their UAE job and they've all secured jobs elsewhere. I would think that international recruiters are aware that there are bad actors in some areas (and probably all over) and will make somewhat of an allowance for it.

    And as a positive, I have heard of (but haven't actually met) two teachers in Abu Dhabi who took their schools to the Ministry of Labour and won so you might get there in the end, but personally I don't think I'd want the cost or stress of fighting it.
  9. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Frustrating as it may be, you should probably just leave and find a job elsewhere. As for your reputation, I very much doubt that it will have taken much of a battering. Most people on the circuit are well aware of how dodgy most for profit schools in the Middle East are. Next time just do more research on your new school before you go !
  10. HeroForTheDay

    HeroForTheDay Occasional commenter

    "And as a positive, I have heard of (but haven't actually met) two teachers in Abu Dhabi who took their schools to the Ministry of Labour and won so you might get there in the end, but personally I don't think I'd want the cost or stress of fighting it."

    As it appears this is OP's first rodeo abroad, I'd counter by saying it's really not worth dangling the possibility of a positive outcome to this. @TheWanderingTeacher, as annoying and disheartening as your current situation is, as long as the school don't have your passport, simply line up a new job and get out. Your chance of winning against the school system in for profit schools is as close to 0 as can be. Chalk it down to experience, find something better and just go. You're not the first and you certainly won't be the last teacher who has fallen foul of these practices. Your bank account, and more importantly, your sanity will thank you for it!

    Good Luck
    yasf and Mr_Frosty like this.
  11. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    Firstly, unless it is a 'short-list' profession/labour, all working visas are sponsored. UK, US, AUS, NZ, Canada... You name it.

    You signed a four year contract meaning your position is not just a normal teaching position?

    The rest of your complaints are concerning for a lack of research and background knowledge. You got blinded by the money and didn't do your due diligence. Huge no, no in this region.

    Cut your losses because you won't win. The only person who did used a certain passage of a book and all of thier (years of) connections to prove they were innocent.

    Learn from it and do your research thoroughly... "No unions".. "... profit.. business.."

    That's the international circuit....
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
  12. 576

    576 Established commenter

    I'm willing to bet their English is better than your Arabic.
  13. amlolex50

    amlolex50 New commenter

    It is soo unfortunate that you have experienced this in Qatar, personally, have been here for a few months, I can say that it will be very had for you to fight a school with the contacts that some school PROs have in the ministry. However you know what's best for you and your family, I have heard of some really bad schools here.
  14. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    First, that's a really horrible situation. Hopefully, you physically have your passport in your hand - if not, although I'm not sure what they can actually do I would strongly recommend you need to speak to someone at the Embassy in Qatar about this.

    If you do have your passport, then as others have said you need to get out quickly. I'm really not convinced of the need to fight this one, TBH - please be assured that not all international schools are like this and this one does appear to have a name for itself, so it won't come as much of a surprise. With regards to your own situation, it would be quite easy for you to "ghost" the year on your CV, saying you spent it travelling or taking time with your kids, etc.
    Mr_Frosty likes this.
  15. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Sadly it's not as easy as having your passport in hand. Those involved in legal cases in the Middle East can be subject to a travel ban, so unable to leave regardless.
    I wish the OP all the best in sorting a good solution. It is awful that these things happen. I loved most of my years in the ME, over a decade in Qatar. So much depends on the school.
    Mr_Frosty likes this.
  16. norwichred

    norwichred Occasional commenter

    Why the hell would you sign a four year contract? That’s insane!

    THE STOIC New commenter


    THE STOIC New commenter

    I am just about to go out there and this is very scary. Thanks for sharing and I hope your situation is sorted out soon.
  19. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Some schools in Qatar treat their staff properly and some don't, alas.

    As gulfgolf has pointed out, those involved in a legal case may not be allowed to leave Qatar. This could be a problem.
  20. towncryer

    towncryer Lead commenter

    I have been a long time in the Mid East and would not get involved in any legal procedures ...no matter how in the right I think i was. I have been shafted once while here but I just packed up and left at the end of the year...no point wasting my savings on a legal case that I was very unlikely to win.
    Hope the OP sorts out his problem soon but if he can leave now he should and start again somewhere else.

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