Teaching in UAE: What happens when you arrive?

So you’ve finally been offered a job, you’ve got your visa and you’ve packed your bags. This is what you can expect when you arrive.

After the months and months of waiting when you finally touch down in UAE the first few weeks here can be a little hectic. Between finding accommodation, adjusting to a new place, new job and new people (oh, and not to mention the heat which hit me like a smack in the face on day one) there is a lot going on.

In the first few days especially there is a lot to do so I thought it might be useful to know what you can expect on your immediate arrival. So for those teaching in public school cycle three this is what will happen in your first couple of days.

On Arrival

When you land in Abu Dhabi (probably Saturday evening) and have collected your luggage, a man holding a sign with your name on it will be waiting outside with a mass of other people each holding placards too.  You will briefly meet any other teachers who were on your fight and then before you leave you will need to go to one of the phone stalls, DU or Etisilat, (right next to the exit I believe) to buy a sim card and some top up credit. Then you’ll be off to the Dusit Thani, about 20 minutes drive away, which is a huge glass tower, basically, but spacious and comfortable, and definitely one of the best hotels I’ve stayed in.



Day 1

The main thing you do on your first full day is the medical test and registration for Emirates ID at a medical centre nearby. It’s pretty standard really just some blood tests and x-rays, though, it could be quite busy so don’t be surprised if it takes a while.You will be expected to get up early and meet at the hotel lobby at around 8.30am where you will hand in your original passport and stamped entry visa for the Emirates ID application. Dress code is casual for the first day so there’s no need to bring out your flashy new suit just yet. Shorts and t-shirt will do just fine.

Hopefully you will have arrived early the previous night and slept well unlike one poor girl in my group who didn’t reach the hotel until after 3am that morning. Also, breakfast is a buffet and it’s free. So it’s not to be missed. Once the medical tests and registration are complete you’ll be back at the hotel for lunch (yes, more free food) before you check out and are taken to Dubai that afternoon. We were brought to the Roda Al Bustan hotel close to downtown Dubai and whilst it does not have the splendid decor of the Dusit Thani it is, again, a very nice place to stay and relax in.

Day 2

You will be picked up at 9am and brought to the Ministry of Education in Dubai. This is where you officially sign your contract and some other documents too. Most importantly you finally get to find out your location. Initially, I thought I had got Ajman (that was actually where induction would be) before I looked further down the sheet I had been given and realized Dubai would be my new home. It was a huge relief since it it was the only place in the UAE I had friends, the only place I really knew anything about and it meant I wasn’t going to be dropped off in some random place and left stranded in the middle of the desert. Anyway, once you get over the elation or disappointment of where you have been placed you will meet the various bank representatives and choose who you want to open an account with. After that it’s back to the hotel to get your bags again before the group splits up and you are whisked off to your new location.

In my case, I was brought to Dubai Wyndham Marina and as you can see from the video below stayed in quite a cool suite. I was more than happy to stay there for the following ten days (and I miss it actually!) while I sorted out accommodation and other things.


For the rest of the week a driver will pick you up at your new location and bring you to induction at a huge building in Ajman where you will learn a little bit about the country, its culture and what is expected of you in your new job.

Then you will have the weekend off to explore, chill at the pool, down a few cocktails or whatever else you are most in need of.

First day of work will begin Sunday morning. Maybe then you can crack out the shiny new suit.



Author: Gaelic Guy Abroad

Mark is an ESL teacher currently living and teaching in Dubai. He spends his time trying to make good life decisions, keep fit and battle his cheesecake addiction.

12 thoughts on “Teaching in UAE: What happens when you arrive?”

  1. Interesting to hear other peoples experiences. Mine was a bit different as I knew the school I was going to. Although the heat was bad, it’s the humidity in the end of Aug/Sept which killed me!

  2. It’s so interesting to see how other people spend their first few days in Dubai! We had a totally different experience as we came without a job offer lol but I know a lot of people back in the UK could really benefit from this blog post so thank you!
    Hope the job is going well!

  3. Such a super helpful post! Totally different to my experience which was chaotic (I guess it set the tone for my time here in Kuwait). I find it really interesting to find out about others’ landing stories.

  4. @gaelicguyabroad

    Would love to ask you some questions about heading over there with MOE. After you sign the final contract and they give you a choice of flight dates, are you pretty much guaranteed the job? What was the process of been given what school you are going to like? Do you have any choice or sway? And what are your holidays like, do you get Christmas and summer off? How are you finding it right now
    Thanks for all the help.

  5. Hi Mark, did you get my contact request? Would you mind sending me an email with the info again you can see my email here on this comment
    Much appreciated, thanks for the help 🙂

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