Since I’ve moved to live and work Dubai, something has really really really shocked me. Not the humidity, not the introduction of VAT, not some of the driving habits, although that has been a close one!

It has been the many negative, dismissive, aggressive, and frankly rude reactions I have received from people who have never been to Dubai or the Gulf region or the Middle East in general, when I tell them I live and work here. That has definitely been the most shocking thing I have experienced since moving to Dubai. How nasty, confrontational, and judgemental some individuals can be about a place that they have never visited, about a culture they have never researched, or about a group of people they have never spoken to or ever interacted with. TO ME, THAT LEVEL OF DISCRIMINATION AND IGNORANCE IS TRULY SHOCKING.

It usually goes like this:

So, where are you working these days?

Me: Oh, I am based in Dubai.


Me: Dubai, in the UAE.

“Oh. I could NEVER live there…”

Me: “Oh, have you been before?” (knowing full well they haven’t)

“No… I just know I could NEVER live there because of  X, X, and X. (the usual list of rules they quote that don’t even exist in Dubai)

Me: Well, I’d definitely recommend you visit a place before ruling it out completely. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


I can no longer keep count of the amount of times I have had this conversation when I tell people that I live in the Gulf region…  I’ve had this conversation in cafes in the UK, restaurants in Ireland, in hostels in Thailand, and on tuk-tuks with random strangers in Laos.With people who have never been “there.” And that’s fine. That is their opinion and everyone is entitled to that, no matter how uninformed it might be. Luckily, I can use my opinion and voice to ask them why exactly they feel like that and then tear apart their arguments, but that depends on whether I want to actually continue a conversation with them! It is when they follow it up with this statement that I begin to feel incredibly annoyed:

“I don’t know how YOU can live there.”

How can I respond to that??? Now I might say, “Well, the sun, job security, job satisfaction, kind locals, tolerant society, fun social life, and salary help.” And that would be an honest reaction!

My auntie lived in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE for many years, so I have always had a positive impression of the region. However, if I didn’t have her stories and I was considering moving to the Middle East, others’ negative reactions or statements like the one above might have stopped me from becoming an expat teacher here.

Here is my advice to you:

  1. No country is perfect. Every country has its pros and cons. If you were to look for a teaching job abroad in a country with zero problems, you would be looking forever.
  2. Misconceptions exist about every country, including those in the Gulf region and the Middle East in general.
  3. Do not take advice from people who have never been, worked or lived there. Despite their best intentions to help you, they may be trying to discourage you from teaching abroad because of their own personal fears, prejudices, insecurities, etc.

So how can you find reliable and helpful advice to make up your own mind? By…

  1. Learning about different countries, their traditions, teaching jobs, and teaching packages with informative blog posts, podcast interviews, and weekly tips at
  2. Becoming a member of the Empowering Expat Teachers Facebook community with its weekly FB live Q&As sessions.
  3. Checking out the TES Teaching Overseas Forum to find out what it is really like to teach abroad.
  4. Using the website with its insights that only expats who have been there could know.
  5. Joining nationality-specific online expat forums and Facebook pages to ask questions to expats already living and working there, particularly in terms of their day-to-day lives and any possible culture shock they felt.

Remember that knowledge is power! Empowering Expat Teachers wants to empower you to get your ideal teaching job abroad- one that is personally, professionally, and financially rewarding. Not all expat teachers get such rewarding teaching jobs abroad, which is why I want to teach you how to research, find, and get your ideal teaching job abroad.


I will share my knowledge, experience and expertise with you through valuable resources (free guides, checklists, podcasts, blog posts, and more) on my website and the Empowering Expat Teachers community. If you wish to learn more, please join here and share with a friend who would also find this knowledge helpful.

If you’re in, let’s begin!