Since December 3rd 2014, I have been based in Chennai, India, enjoying the opportunity to spend time visiting my in-laws, while doing some sightseeing and experiencing the country’s diverse culture. My stay in India, however, is only temporary, and in the near future my wife and I are looking to relocate and settle somewhere on a more permanent basis.
For now though, I’m also using this time to focus on my linguistic skills. As well as having fun trying out the local language (Tamil), I’m also continuing to advance my Arabic through a combination of translation practice, vocabulary learning, and the production of original Arabic designs and materials, including infographics and “word maps”.
You can view an example of my most recent work here. I look forward to sharing more soon!
It’s official – I have been assigned a position at the university project in Ha’il and will be moving this Tuesday (28th August). I will be teaching at the University of Ha’il, where their academic year is about to begin. I have organised for a van to take me and my things, including all of my furniture. I couldn’t well leave behind my nice hardwood desk, lazyboi chair and grandfather clock, could I? It’s going to be a bit of a mission because this stuff is heavy, but it’ll definitely be worth the effort.
I will be staying, at least initially, at the compound provided for the teachers by the company. I have no idea what the compound is like and how it compares to the one in Sakaka – hopefully it’s nice and large, with a swimming pool, like the compound in Tabuk, but I’m not getting my hopes up! In any case, I’ll have the option again to move into town and get my own apartment. So we’ll see what happens – I shall keep you updated on the move!
The company I work for is concluding its contract with Al-Jouf University and so all teachers based in Sakaka, including myself, will be transferred to other projects within Saudi Arabia. The move is set to come at the end of this month, in time to begin elsewhere from September. It’s not certain yet where everyone will be placed. There is a good chance I may be posted in Riyadh, but apparently most of the native English speakers will be transferred to a project based in Ha’il, a city about 300km south-east of Sakaka. I have marked Ha’il red on the following map:
I shall be sure to keep you posted on any new developments!
After much waiting at the hotel for news, I finally had a meeting with the company yesterday and was told where I am being sent… I’m going to be teaching in Sakaka, Al-Jouf.
It’s a small city in the northern part of Saudi Arabia, close to the borders of Jordan and Iraq. Teachers are housed in a residential complex reserved for expats, which is generally referred to as a ‘compound’ (don’t worry – nothing to do with concentration camps!). In fact, apparently it’s quite luxurious, with a villa for every two teachers, and each villa has its own swimming pool! I’ll be sure to post some photos once I have arrived.
Al-Jouf is a ‘university project’, as opposed to the ‘centre’ in Riyadh, which means I will be teaching university students around 18-21 years old. Apparently the work hours are very good there, with only one shift a day instead of two like at the centre here in Riyadh.
Several other teachers here at the hotel will also be going to Al-Jouf. So we’ll be traveling up together, scheduled to fly on Saturday (although – having seen the organisation here, it could be any day!). The company still hasn’t taken me to have the medical done. One teacher already left for Al-Jouf a couple days ago, before having his medical, so I may end up just having it done over there instead.
Also, during my meeting with the company yesterday, they were very happy to give an advance on the salary, which most teachers request for their first month in the country.
Since my last post, I’ve managed to meet several more teachers, some of which have been working here for up to two years already. It’s been very helpful to hear about their experience working with Al-Khaleej and to get lots of useful advice before setting out for Al-Jouf. It’s encouraging to discover that many of them have decided to continue working in Saudi Arabia and will be renewing their contract with Al-Khaleej. On the whole, it seems as though their experience has been very positive.
Now I just have to see what it’s like for myself!
!ان شاء الله خير
My flight to Saudi Arabia has finally been confirmed… for the 1st of September. So, with the start of a new month comes the beginning of a new adventure! In exactly one week, I shall be landing in the sandy kingdom… arriving in Dammam, then catching a short flight to Riyadh.
I’ve been informed that a member of staff from Al-Khaleej will be there for the meet and greet, and will take me to my hotel – all expenses paid. I expect I’ll be in Riyadh a couple days or so, while things are sorted out and arrangements are made for me to move to a more permanent location. As of yet, I still don’t know which city I will be based in, but I should find out within the next week, if not the next few days.
While in Riyadh, one of the things I will be doing is having another medical, even though I already had one a couple months ago for the visa application. Apparently it’s mandatory, either for working in Saudi Arabia or for obtaining a residency permit (“Iqaama”) – or both. I stumbled upon some details about the medical in a blog I’ve been reading written by another expat, who has been working for Al-Khaleej for over 6 months now. He said the medical not only requires a blood and urine sample, but also a stool sample! So I can’t say I’m looking forward to that!
I’ve also heard some very positive things about Al-Khaleej and, in particular, about getting its employees paid and on time. In fact, I read that the company begins the salary-month right from the first week we’re in the country, even if we haven’t started teaching. It’s nice to know a little bit about what I’m getting myself into and so far everything seems very positive.
I shall be sure to keep you updated on where exactly I am heading after Riyadh. Watch this space!
I began the snail-paced Saudi visa process all the way back on the 18th of May, 2011… Now, after three long months of gathering documents, playing email tennis and waiting around, I have finally received my visa!
Fortunately it’s come just in time for the start of the new academic year. I don’t have a flight date just yet, but it’s currently being organised by Al-Khaleej, the Saudi Arabian company I will be working for. They will also be paying for my flights, which is rather nice! I was informed that it would most likely be after Eid Al-Fitr (the festival at the end of Ramadan). So I’m expecting to leave some time early September. I’ve requested to fly out of Cardiff Airport, but if this isn’t possible, I will be flying out of London.
I will keep you posted!
Flag of Saudi Arabia
Next stop… Saudi Arabia!
I have been offered a position as an English Language Instructor with a Saudi Arabian company called Al-Khaleej Training & Education. I expect to start some time in July, but my arrival date is still uncertain. I’m still in the middle of a lengthy visa process and the recent addition of an extra month-long procedure hasn’t helped in speeding up the process! Fortunately the company in Saudi Arabia understands the situation and will still hold the job for me while I work through the extra red tape.