There's a LOT of info below. It comes from months (months!) of research that I have done so you don't have to. Read, enjoy, and ask any other questions I've forgotten. Also, I know it's incomplete. If you can fill in any blanks, please leave a comment! This is a collaborative work from my facebook message board, and though they're not credited by name, a few people have added information in sections that were outside my knowledge or experience (thanks, guys!).

About ADEC

What is ADEC and what are they doing?
ADEC stands for the Abu Dhabi Education Council. They are your employer, not Teach Away. Here are some websites:
New School Model: http://bit.ly/kogQ6V
The Strategic Plan: http://bit.ly/iiori6

Who are they hiring?
Native English speaking teachers who are certified to teach in their home countries. Two-plus years of classroom experience is preferred but not an absolute requirement. By “native English speakers” they mean teachers (primarily) from the following countries:
New Zealand

If you are a native English speaker from Barbados, say, or Jamaica or India or Hong Kong, there is nothing saying you shouldn't apply. I don't think.

How are they hiring people?
ADEC uses international recruiting agencies to find and screen potential applicants. You cannot apply directly to ADEC, even if you are currently working in the UAE.

About Teach Away, Caneducom and other recruiters

Who are Teach Away?
Teach Away is the largest recruiting agency hired by ADEC. Located in Canada (Toronto and Vancouver), they arrange interviews all around the world. Teach Away (and Caneducom, Teach Anywhere, etc.) are RECRUITERS ONLY. They do not hire you, pay you, or really have much to do for you once you are hired. They work for ADEC.

I filled out the online application. What now?
Now you wait to be contacted by a recruiter. You may wait a few minutes (as I did) or a few months (as others have). You will probably receive an email first to set up a phone interview. This interview will be short and sweet, a review of your application, asking if there are any medical reasons you cannot travel...in short, a quick check to see if you're human and basically what you presented yourself as in your application.
Okay, I had my pre-screen phone interview. Now what?
Now you wait for your IPI (in-person interview). Again, you will be contacted, probably via email, with a time and date and location for your interview. You'll also be given a list of paperwork to begin collecting for that IPI:
  • 2 colour copies of your passport
  • teaching certificate (again, colour copy)
  • highest degree certificate (as above)
  • a state-wide or national background check (original)
  • 4 passport-sized photos (it's a good idea to be pretty well covered even in your passport photo)
  • UAE Security Clearance form (provided by your recruiter) with passport-sized photo attached
  • 2 reference letters
  • current CV/résumé
  • everything scanned onto a CD or USB drive as well as in hard copy.
Right. I've collected all that paperwork. When will my IPI take place?
Anywhere from 3 days to several months after your phone interview. If you haven't heard from your recruiter in a couple of months, contact him or her and ask about your interview.
Has anyone ever NOT been hired? Why?
Yes, some people have been interviewed and not hired. For a variety of reasons. ADEC and your recruiters will never tell. Your best defense against this possibility is to be prepared for the interview. Imagine it's like an interview in your home country, only with the added aspect of being in a foreign country.
How long is it going to take until I hear back?
You will usually hear from ADEC and/or your recruiter within a week of the IPI. For some it has taken up to 2 weeks. If you haven't heard anything after two weeks, contact your recruiter.

Hurrah! I was offered a contract!
Well done! Let's have a look at that contract, shall we?

About The Contract

It's in Arabic? Should I get it translated?
If you like. Arabic speakers on my message board as well as others have read the contract in both English and Arabic and say it is the same. If you'd like to cover your bases, by all means, have it translated for your own peace of mind.

How much is that in US dollars (UK pounds, Euros, Canadian or Australian dollars, etc.)?
The UAE Dirham (AED or Dhm) is tied to the US dollar, at AED3.67 to US$1. For your home country's equivalence, check http://www.xe.com/
The salary listed on your contract is monthly.
And this housing allowance?
It is a one-time furniture allowance given to people who are not settled in hotel apartments (more on those later). If you do not stay out your whole two-year contract, it will have to be repaid accordingly.
And that end-of-year bonus?
The end-of-year bonus will accrue until you leave ADEC employ. If you stay for one year, you will receive a one-year bonus (equivalent of 1 month's pay). If you stay for two years, you will receive a bonus for 2 years (2 x 1month's pay), and so on. After five years in ADEC's employ, the bonus goes up to 1.5 months' pay per year – remember, this is all paid out at the end of your employment, NOT at the end of each year.

How do they decide on your pay?
Your pay is based on your education level and your qualifying years of teaching experience. It is not negotiable but does increase sort of annually while you're working in Abu Dhabi. 

What about insurance?
Basic health insurance is provided for the teacher and up to four (I think) dependents. This will be covered more thoroughly during new teacher orientation in the UAE.

Oh my goodness, MORE paperwork to collect?
Oh yeah! You thought you had to jump through hoops to get that IPI? Welcome to the wonderful world of international bureaucracy (also known as Document Authentication).

About the Authentication Process (US)

What do they mean, authenticate?
In short, they mean, prove that you are who you say you are. And that your documents are what you say they are. To do this:
  • Make clear, exact copies of your documents (except where originals* are required).
    * Original documents required include children's birth certificates, adoption certificates, marriage licenses... In essence, legal identity-based documents. You will skip the notary step for government-issued documents.
  • Get these copies notarised. (Go to a bank. Ask for the notary. Write on your document or attach a slip of paper that says something to the tune of “I confirm that this document is a true copy of the original.” Then sign your name. Then the notary will notarise YOUR SIGNATURE with a stamp and a seal. This should not cost more than $2 per document, if anything at all.
  • Take or send your notarised copies to your Secretary of State. http://bit.ly/lVvaHqYou will need to request authentication for international use (there is usually a cover sheet you can print off from your SoS's website). If you are asked if you want an apostille, the answer is NO. You want your documents authenticated for international use. There will be a small fee for this service, per document.
  • When you receive your documents from your SoS, you will need to take or send them to the US State Department for further authentication.http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/ There will be a fee for this, per document.
  • Once you get your documents back from the State Department (4-6 weeks at time of writing), you will need to send them to the UAE Embassy http://bit.ly/lLK1Yz along with a letter of accreditation (does not need to be authenticated) from your university. For additional assurance (and no additional cost), you can include a copy of the CHEA record of your university's accreditation.http://www.chea.org/search/default.asp This last is not required but has been asked for on occasion. There is a goodly fee for the embassy part of authentication.
  • When you've got your things back from the embassy, you're done! Now hold onto everything until you get on the plane.
**DO NOT UNSTAPLE THE DOCUMENTS. Keep them together. 
***Step 1-3, may be different for every state, but steps 4-5 are the same.

I'm single, no kids. What do I need to authenticate?
Highest degree
teaching certificate

I'm single, with kids. What do I need to authenticate?
As with singles, plus:
each child's birth certificate
other parent's certificate of death or letter approving your taking the children out of the country. If other parent is non-existent...clarification is needed.

I'm married, no kids. What do I need to authenticate?
As with singles, plus:
marriage license

I'm married, with kids. What do I need to authenticate?
As with marrieds, plus:
children's birth certificates

I'm divorced, no kids. What do I need to authenticate?
You count as single, no kids

I'm divorced, with kids. What do I need to authenticate?
As with singles with kids, plus:
certified decree of divorce or some such, including the right to take the children out of the country. Ex-spouse's permission is required in most cases.

Special consideration, adopted children:
Authenticate certificate of adoption, birth certificate, etc. More clarification to come.

I want to bring over my mother/grandmother/cousin/best friend/girlfriend/boyfriend/au pair. What do I need to authenticate?
To sponsor an additional person or people, you must first have your resident visa. Further explanation to be added. These people must be dependent family or employees (in the case of the au pair).
Dating couples: special consideration:
You gotta get married or leave him/her behind. Cohabitation is not allowed in the UAE.
I'm homosexual. Can I bring my partner? What do I need to authenticate?
Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE. You cannot legally bring your partner.

I got married/gave birth/got my qualifications/ate breakfast once in another country. What do I need to do?
International documents must be authenticated in the country of origin (though marriage certificates have been known to be translated and authenticated in the US). Contact the UAE embassy (preferably in that country) for specific steps.

Okay, I'm totally using ProEx. What does that actually entail?
Angelina shared the following:

You will need to send us the following to initiate service:
- a letter requesting legalization for use in UAE; (This is a letter that gives your information, such as name, address, phone number and which country the
documents are used in).
- documents requiring legalization that have been certified at the Sec. of State level
- photocopies (including certification pages - DO NOT take documents apart to
make copies) of the documents you need authenticated (for the embassy records);
- letter of accreditation from the University or printout from school's website
showing accreditation (for the embassy's rec.);
- 1 money order payable to ProEx Delivery Corp. for the total of the following
- US Dept. of State fee for $8.00 per document;
- Embassy of UAE fee for $30.00 per document;
- money order & US State Dept copies. $5.00;
- ProEx Delivery Corp. service fee for $120.00;
- prepaid return shipping envelope.

Turnaround time is currently running 1 week excluding shipping. Please do not
count the photocopies or accreditation letter when determining the per document
fees at the US Dept. of State and the Embassy of UAE.

Bill Barnes
ProEx Delivery Corp.
5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW #710
Washington, DC 20016

About the Authentication Process (non-US)

We really lucked out, being non-US hires.
You have no idea.

So what do we need to do to authenticate our documents in...

This process is quite easy and not too time consuming.
- Notarize a copy of your Teaching License and University degree - this can be done at your local lawyer's office for a small fee
- Have the Institution where you completed your highest teaching degree send an official transcript (SEALED) to the UAE Embassy in Ottawa. Attn: Consular Section
- If you have completed Teacher's College in the USA or in another country, you will not need to ask for your transcript to be sent here.  However, you will need to go through the whole Authentication process of your diploma in that country as well.
 - Send your Notarized License and Degree to The Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DFAIT).  Those papers will then have to be sent to the UAE Embassy.Make sure to include a prepaid self addressed envelope so that they can mail it back to you. Remember to include a money order or certified cheque made for the UAE Embassy in the amount of $50.00.  Personal cheques will not be accepted.
- You can also do this in person in Ottawa (if you live close enough) and you can get it all done in 1 day
Phone numbers if you need to speak with someone at DFAIT or at the UAE Embassy: 
DFAIT - 1800-267-8376
UAE Embassy - 613-565-7272

The UK?

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Educational Documents (including teaching license)
All degree certificates submitted for legalisation must be awarded by an institution recognised by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)

We can legalise original UK educational certificates if:
  • They have been certified by a practising UK solicitor
  • They have been certified by a practising UK notary public
  • They have been signed by an official of the British Council
  • They have been certified by an official of a British diplomatic mission (e.g. Consulate, Embassy or High Commission)
We can legalise photocopies of UK educational certificates if:
  • They have been certified by a practising UK solicitor
  • They have been certified by a practising UK notary public
  • They have been certified by an official of a British diplomatic mission (e.g. Consulate, Embassy or High Commission)

Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate

In order to legalise your document, it must be an original General Register Office document and:
  •  Bear the original signature of an official from the issuing authority 
  • Bear the original stamp of the General Register Office (GRO)
We cannot legalise photocopies of these documents under any circumstances.

How to Apply
  • Step 1: Check the exact requirements of the authorities requesting the legalisation of your documentation (the Legalisation Office cannot offer advice on this) _                                                                                                                                                
  • Step 2: Check that your document(s) are in a format that we can accept (for guidance see Documents We Can Legalise )                                                                                                                                                        
  • Step 3: Pay, we require a fee of £30.00 per apostille.                                                                                                                            
  •  (a):  Pay Online .  Please print off your payment status page and include this with your application.  Please note than an amount will be added to your transaction for return postage by Special Delivery (FEDEX). Rates will vary depending on your location (please see here for postal rates )  OR                                                                                                                                                  
  • (b): Customers may also pay by UK postal order, bankers draft or business cheque (made payable to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office). Customers who do not pay online must include additional payment for return special delivery ( see here for postal rates ) or a pre-paid A4 sized envelope.    _                                                                                                                                         
  • Step 4: Print and complete the Legalisation Application Form . An application form must be included with your documents and all fields must be completed or your application will be rejected.                                                                                                                                                          
  • Step 5: Post your completed application form, documents, payment and A4 sized envelope to the address below:  
Legalisation Office

Norfolk House West
437 Silbury Boulevard
Milton Keynes

Court Documents
Decrees Nisi and Absolute
We can legalise originals or photocopies of your document if:
  • They bear the original seal or ink stamp of the court
  • They bear the original signature of an official from the court
  • They have been certified by a solicitor or a notary public 

UAE Embassy

Legalisation Department
48 Prince's Gate
SW7 2 QA

Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7808 8306 / 8088351
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7584 0989
E-Mail: legalisationuk@mofa.gov.ae

Please note that the Embassy will not accept documents on the first working day of each month.

Consular Services: Visas, Passports & Legalisation 
 Monday – Friday: 09:30 to 12:30
14:00 to 15:00 (Document Collection)

Fees Per Document
Fees must be paid in cash, by postal order or banker’s draft (drawn on a bank in the UK) made payable to UAE Embassy. Cheques or credit cards are not accepted.
Documents £20 each

Time Taken to Process Documents

Three working days should normally be allowed before collection of documents lodged at the Embassy for legalization. The Embassy now offers same day service upon the payment of £10 per document (same day documents should be lodged at the Embassy before 12:00 hrs and they will be ready for collection at 14:00 hrs).

Documents requiring both the FCO apostle & the UAE legalization may be submitted to the Embassy via the FCO if desired. Appropriate instructions, separate fee amounts, a stamped addressed envelope to the Embassy and a stamped self-addressed envelope, should be enclosed for the return of the documents.

Gather up your relevant documents: highest degree, teaching license, marriage cert, birth cert for kids, divorce decree if bringing kids.
Australians need to have these docs authenticated in Australia, not through another consulate. TIP: Ring the UAE Embassy in Canberra first, and run through your checklist.Register your mail. Copy of degree  etc needs to be authenticated by DFAT.www.dfat.gov.au/contacts.html and follow very easy instructions. Warning: Different states and territories have diff steps, so call your local DFAT next. By this stage it is important that the signatures on your docs are on their list of legit signatures, so if you are travelling any distance, it is a good idea to check and they can do this step ahead of time. I did this for my medical report. DFAT had to fax my local doctor to legalise his report. 
Once DFAT have done their bit, you send the lot, registered to sunny Canberra with a reply paid self addresses envelope. I scanned e'thing first just in case of disaster. It only took about 2 weeks, and seems simple in comparison with the States. Mind you I am going on my lonesome, so no family or kids to complicate matters, bless 'em. N.Z is the same for the second part. Docs come to Canberra. The UAE websitewww.uaeembassy.org.au/consular.htm#legal has the lot plus more.Hope this helps. pm me if you want to ask a question. Also, whilst you are whiling away your time at DFAT, they have these FREE passport sized info booklets, which I still haven't looked at but have all the travel advice in them and contact numbers which make them a handy reference. You can also download pdf format from their website. Good luck. cheers,Carolinne 

New Zealand?


All Teachers must attest both:
1.   Notarised copy of your highest degree, including education degrees. (PhD over Masters over Bachelors).
2.   Notarised copy of either: a)Teaching qualification (PGCE/PGDE/HDip) ORb)QTS certificate OR c)Teaching Registration Card (this should indicate full registration with the Teaching Council in the country from which you qualified)

If certificates are in any language other than English (eg Latin or Gaeilge). Then a legal copy in English must be obtained, either by the University re-issuing the certificate in English or by legal translation. This English language version must accompany the original to the Notary Public Solicitor and the notarised copy made from the English translation. The original may have to accompany both the English version & the notarised copy for attestation at the UAE embassy – but please check with them first. (see steps below). This is because the UAE authorities won’t recognise a foreign certificate in any language other than English.
  1. Originals and photocopies of degree and certificate must be seen by a Notary Public Solicitor in Ireland. They will stamp and sign the back of the originals and the front of the photocopies.
 2.  You now need to authenticate your notarised copies. You do not need to send the originals but do call ahead to double check. You can take them in person to Consular Section / Department of Foreign Affairs / Hainault House / 69-71 St Stephen’s Green / Dublin 2 or send by post to Consular Section / Department of Foreign Affairs / Hainault House / 80 St Stephen’s Green / Dublin 2. Call them on (01) 408 2174 / (01) 478 0822 to double check the process especially if you are sending them my post. You will need to include a stamped addressed envelope. You can also consult their websitewww.dfa.ie. If you are in the Munster area you can send them to Consular Services / Department of Foreign Affairs / 1A South Mall / Cork / Tel. 021 494 4765 or 021 494 4766.

3. The next step is to do the same with the UAE embassy. Call them to confirm requirements. Their address is:

EMBASSY OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Glandore Business Centre, Fitzwilliam Hall, Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2
Tel: 01 669 8588. Fax: 01 669 8557
E-mail: dublin@mofa.gov.ae   

GET THIS DONE AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN AFTER SIGNING CONTRACT!!!!!! My consultant with Teach Anywhere said thats usually the only reason there'd be a delay in finding out when you will be flying to the UAE. This is because they can only apply for security clearance and you visa once they have these documents. Once they have a visa number the flights can be booked. She said if I got to work on this straight away, I'd find out some time in July what my flight date will be in August.  


About Travel and Hotel

When will we find out our flights?
Sometime before you're due to get on the plane. Usually between one day (yes, ONE DAY) and two weeks before take-off. Expect mid-August, but be prepared for early August to late October.

Yes. October.

How much notice will we get?
Between 24 hours (you read that right) and two weeks. Average seems to be 3-7 days, though.

What if I need to change my airport of departure?
Check in with your recruiter (or ADEC – clarification to come) as soon as you get that first email about flights.

What if I can't leave when they want me to?
First, you should have thought of that before you signed the contract. But, I mean, things come up. If you have an unforeseeable conflict, contact your recruiter ASAP.

How much luggage can we take?
As much as you want to pay for. Basic international allowance is 2 bags weighing no more than 50 pounds (22kg?) and a carry-on and purse or computer bag per person. Just remember that you're the one who'll have to manhandle all your luggage through airports, security, hotels and possibly several moves.
Does ADEC reimburse for excess baggage fees?
NO. They do not reimburse for any baggage fees, extra tickets, shipping costs, etc.

I want to pack up my whole house and take it with me. Anyone know a good shipping company?
http://www.schumachercargo.com/  has been recommended. Note: to ship your car (or personal yacht, flying machine or other rather large object suchlike), it must be paid off in full. You need to contact this company for specific fees. Just remember to figure in customs fees (which could be significant) and any potential fees for storage while waiting for your things to clear customs. As well as any expense in transporting your things to their final destination. And then there's insurance. Replacing broken stuff. Etc. Don't forget you have no way of knowing how long this will take. Really what I'm trying to say here is, if you're THAT attached to your worldly belongings, perhaps this isn't the career path for you? It's a pretty transitory existence, even for the more settled types. 

What about my car?
Cars driven in the UAE are actually designed for life in the desert. Unless your car is likewise designed for life in the desert (note: it's not), it will probably cost you more to ship it (don't forget about storage and import/export duties) than it will to buy a car in the UAE.

Driving in the UAE/ (Middle East in general) is quite the experience. Be very careful when it rains! Most people do not have any experience of driving in these conditions and so may drive too fast or too slow.

 British nationals possessing a visit visa may drive a UAE rental car using their British driving licence. Anyone applying for residence in the UAE may also drive on their British driving licence until such time as the residency permit is issued. Thereafter, a UAE driving licence is required. Expatriates with valid residency visas may obtain UAE from the traffic department. 

U.S. citizen non-resident visitors to the UAE can drive using a valid driver’s license issued by his or her state. 

You are able to exchange your licence if you are from a qualifying country. 

The Process
Please follow the steps below:
  1. Visit Traffic & Licensing Department.
  2. Undergo eye sight examination.
  3. Submit the required documents.
  4. Present yourself at the photography room to collect your driving licence
Required Documents 
Passport -Original and copy
Recent photo 3
Foreign licence Original and copy Must be valid
Legal translation of the licence Letter from sponsor or workplace Issued in Abu Dhabi 

Fee  (in AED)  200

Special conditions
  • A foreign driving licence, held by a national of the 26 countries allowed, will be replaced with a UAE driver’s licence provided that the licence holder’s residency is valid in Abu Dhabi.
  • The person wishing to replace his/her licence must hold the nationality of the country which issued the licence.
  • A foreign licence will not be replaced if its holder has already obtained a driving licence from another emirate in the UAE.
  • The requester should have a residence permit issued in Abu Dhabi, with the exception of managers and their sons and their wives provided they bring proof of residence housing in Abu Dhabi.
Citizens of 26 nationalities who are allowed to drive with licences issued from their home countries during their visit to the UAE are: Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Finland, Spain, Holland, Greece, Sweden, Romania, Belgium, Ireland, Turkey, Denmark, Austria, France, UK, Norway, US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Africa.

However Nationals from Greece, Turkey, CanadaJapan and South Korea need to obtain the legal translation of driving licences from their home countries attested from their embassies or consulates in order to be able to drive in the UAE with such permits after their arrival in the country on a visit visa

If you have a motor accident, ensure you follow the rules of the Emirate in which you are travelling. In Abu Dhabi, if no one has been hurt and vehicle damage is minor, drivers should move their vehicles to the side of the road to avoid blocking traffic; otherwise, the vehicles should not be moved. 

In Dubai, you should only move your vehicle if it is causing an obstruction to other motorists. In the other Emirates, you may only move your car if the accident is minor and both parties agree on who is responsible for it. In all cases, the police must be called, and it is an offence to leave the scene of the accident before the police have arrived. Even minor expressions of 'road rage', such as rude gestures, can attract significant penalties. It is very much in your interests to display calm at all times.

Drinking and Driving
It is a criminal offence in the UAE to drink and drive, no matter how small the amount. This means that, should you drink and drive, your insurance is likely to be invalidated, leaving you to pay the claims of other parties involved in any accident. You also risk imprisonment.
Offensive gestures and bad language used at other drivers can lead to fines, a jail sentence, and possibly deportation. 

What about my dog?
You will NOT be able to bring your dog or other pet over when you fly out in August. The hotels do not allow pets. This thread answers a lot of questions about importing your dog (including cost) to the UAE:

What do you mean, I have to leave my family behind until I get settled? I'm a single parent/nursing mother/whatever!
It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED (but not required) that you leave your family at home while you go through orientation and get settled. If it is not possible or even remotely reasonable for you to leave the kids/spouse/au pair home while you fly to the UAE, wander zombie-like through weeks of orientation and waiting, adjust to the heat and the language and Ramadan, then you will bring them with you. Just be aware that ADEC will not make special concessions for your life situation.

What is the hotel accommodation like?
Incoming LTs will be placed in a 5-star resort somewhere in Abu Dhabi (City/Island). This may or may not be the hotel where orientation meetings are taking place, so be aware you'll need to find transportation if you're not housed in the hotel where meetings take place.
What hotel amenities are included?
This varies by hotel, but you can expect resort-style amenities (pools, gyms, etc). Internet connection and mini-bar, as well as room service, will be charged to you, not ADEC.  Breakfast buffet is typically provided, but other meals tend to be your responsibility.
Will I have to share a room?
Only with whatever family travels with you.
Where will I be staying, exactly?
In a hotel, in Abu Dhabi. You'll only know the rest when you land. Even then, it is possible that you will be moved once or indeed several times before you settle into your more permanent digs.
One room? But I have a spouse and three children!
This is part of why your recruiter and ADEC so strongly suggested leaving the family at home until you're settled.

How long will we be in the hotel?
Anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
But I have three kids!
This is part of why your recruiter and ADEC so strongly suggested leaving the family at home until you're settled.

How much is this going to cost me?
This depends heavily on your own frugality and unavoidable expenses. Teach Away recommends incoming LTs arrive with $1500-$3000 to tide them over until that first pay cheque. But you do what you can and make do with what you've got.

New Teacher Orientation

When will we get our accommodation? 
Could be a couple weeks to a couple months.

When will we get our bank accounts? 
 During orientation.
How do I transfer money home?
You will require your account & routing number (where relevant) and your bank's SWIFT code. Contact your bank for that info. There may be a fee for transfer and conversion of funds, on both ends.

Additionally, you should inform your bank that you are travelling long-term out of country (particularly if you're a member of a small bank) so that your accounts won't be unexpectedly frozen.

When will we get paid?
Expect your first pay to be deposited at or around the end of September. You may or may not get a pay advance and/or a furniture allowance before then.
When will we get our insurance? 
During orientation...probably.
When will we get our school placements? 
During orientation
What else goes on during orientation?
 The famous Ali Al Saloom will do a presentation. There will be Adec presentations. Lots of down time, bonding with other teachers, and waiting anxiously for something definite. And a visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

What am I supposed to do with my three kids, my dog, my grandmother and my spouse during all this?
This is part of why your recruiter and ADEC so strongly suggested leaving the family at home until you're settled.

Getting settled (or started) in Abu Dhabi


Will I have to wear an abaya?
Maybe. When you visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque, definitely. To work? Possibly. Around town? If you like.
What is an abaya?
An abaya is an outer garment worn by women in many Gulf countries. In the wiki link, you will see a photo of two women who are covered head to toe. The abaya is the over-dress (traditionally black in the UAE); usually worn with a shayla (scarf) covering the hair. The niqab (covering the face) is less common in the UAE and not required for foreigners.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abaya

No eating during Ramadan?
Not in public. Or drinking, either. Not even water. Never fear, there are places for foreigners to go and eat out of sight of Muslims, who are observing the holy month. More here:http://bit.ly/luzzOq 

Note:  The majority of restaurants are closed during daylight hours.

But I have kids!
This is part of why your recruiter and ADEC so strongly suggested leaving the family at home until you're settled. (Are you beginning to sense a pattern?)

Will I have to speak Arabic?
No. But as with travel in any country where English is not the primary language, it would be wise to learn a few key phrases. Additionally, you'll appreciate your students' struggles with English better if you're wrestling with Arabic at the same time! Here are some sites:

http://www.gulfarabic.com/ (free sample but a paid service)
http://www.byki.com/ (language learning programme, downloadable – standard Arabic)

How am I supposed to get around town? 
Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive.  There are also city buses, but westerners usually take a taxi.

Do I need to get any vaccinations before arriving?
Check with your doctor about children's vaccines.  None are usually required for the UAE, but if you plan on doing some traveling while here, it would be a good idea to plan ahead and get those in the states or wherever.

Is the water safe?

What is there to do during off hours?

What can I do with my kids?
Put them in school and on a schedule ASAP. Hire a nanny/housekeeper if necessary. For activities, see above. Get them involved in school clubs and sports.

What do you mean, border runs?
Until you have your resident visa (should take less than 30 days), you are unable to sponsor any dependents. This means that any family you choose to bring with you when you fly out at the beginning of your contract...will be in the UAE on a visitor visa. This means that after 30 days they will have to leave the country and re-enter it with a new visitor stamp in their passports. 

If you do not have your passport back by the time their visas expire, you will have to do a border run. This usually entails driving to the Oman border (across the street from Al Ain) and sending your children across the border with a trusted adult, paying a fee for the new stamp (between US$30 and US$200 per person depending on home country), and then doing the same 30 days later. 

Remember, if you do not have your passport back, YOU WILL NOT be able to take your own children across the border.

But...my kids!
This is part of why your recruiter and ADEC so strongly suggested leaving the family at home until you're settled. (Actually, this is the main reason.) ADEC will not reimburse you for border runs, the cost of numerous visa extensions, or indeed anything else that comes with bringing your spouse and children to the UAE other than that plane ticket. 


They told me in my interview I'd be placed in AD City. Now people are saying I'll be posted to Al Gharbia. That's not fair! 
 To clear up some of the confusion...Abu Dhabi is not only the name of the city, it is the name of an Emirate.  Al Ain, Al Gharbia and Abu Dhabi City are all within Abu Dhabi the Emirate.

Additionally, if you look at your contract again, specific placement is NOT guaranteed. Families are USUALLY placed in Al Ain, but not always. There is no guarantee until you're actually placed...and even then it's possible you'll be moved. You've been hired by ADEC, not a specific school. You'll be placed where you're needed. End of.

Where is Al Gharbia?
AG is the Western Region, the large expanse of desert in the (you guessed it!) western majority of the emirate. THe city of Madinat Zayed is kind of smack in the middle of AG. Liwa Oasis is to the south-ish. Placements in AG may live in Abu Dhabi City, Al Ain, MZ or a few other places. You may be anywhere from 1 hour to nearly four hours' drive from AD. Your drive to work may be over an hour each way. You should be compensated for being parked out in the desert.

Where is Al Ain?
AA is east of Abu Dhabi, about 90min drive away, on the Oman border. 

What if I hate my school?
Try to work through it. Build your support group. If all else fails, contact ADEC.

What if I hate my living arrangements?
Get over it. They're being paid for by your employer. It is possible you can change flats, but not really, especially not the first year.

What if I hate Abu Dhabi?
Take the proper steps to resign and go home. Do future expats a HUGE favour and don't disappear into the night without a word. 

I was supposed to teach high school girls. How did I get a class full of second-grade boys?
As with physical placement, classroom placement is entirely dependent upon where you're NEEDED, not what you want.

What is KG1 and KG2? 
 KG1 is like preschool 3-4 year olds.  KG2 is 4-5 year olds.

I thought women weren't supposed to teach boys?
Primary schools are being "feminized" - meaning that - up through grade 3 at least - the move is to make all schoolteachers female. Men will teach secondary and upper primary (grade four and up) only. (Women will also teach secondary and upper primary, as school at that point is segregated by sex.)

Fistfights on the playground! Help me!
 This isn't the US. No one's going to call the cops to break up playground fights. Be selective in how you intervene as well.

These girls never listen to a single word I say, and I think their nannies do their homework. Can I change schools?
No. Pick your battles. Decide what's most important and move on with the teaching.

Beyond ADEC

Are there other schools in the UAE besides ADEC schools?
Yes, there are myriad private, international, and specialist schools. Start at Dave's ESL Cafe.  http://www.eslcafe.com/teachers/

I'm a history teacher. Can't I teach history (or biology or French or whatever)?
No. ADEC are hiring native English teachers to teach English. C'est tout. If you want to teach another subject, look into international schools. 

I'm tired of teaching children and want to teach at the tertiary level. Any tips?
Start by cultivating your connections in the country. And do your research on the different universities. Start at Dave's ESL Cafe.  http://www.eslcafe.com/teachers/ 

Schools for Expat Children

How are my kids going to be educated out here in the sandbox?
Expat children are not allowed to attend the public schools. This leaves you with the options of homeschooling or private school. Generally speaking, the private schools in Al Ain are less expensive than in Abu Dhabi City.  At this time there is no stipend provided for your children's education costs - this means the fees are solely you & your family's responsibility. Websites and/or emails have been listed for some of the schools in the region. Please note that web presence is not always as important in the UAE as it might be in western countries so you will find some websites more informative than others. 

Abu Dhabi City - this is a small sample
GEMS-American Academy - http://www.gemsaa-abudhabi.com/
The Cambridge High School - http://www.gemscis-abudhabi.com/

Al Ain - this is a small sample
Al Ain English Speaking School http://www.aaess.com/
Emirates National http://www.ens.sch.ae/en/
Al Ain American School  - http://www.alainamericanschool.com/
Emirates Private School http://www.emiratesprivate.sch.ae/
Manor Hall  - Email: md@manorhallschool.com
Our Own English High School  http://www.gemsoo-alain.com/

Al Gharbia and Madinat Zayed

Am I allowed to be Christian? Jewish? Zoroastrian?

(from Abu Dhabi Week) http://bit.ly/jeYdO0 
"There is no formalised method for granting religious groups official status, no government authority for the recognition and regulation of non-Muslim religions, and no licensing or registration requirements.

Non-Muslim groups can own their own houses of worship, in which to practice their religion freely, by requesting a land grant and permission to build a compound from the local ruler. There is no federal-level method of approving these land grants. Instead, the rulers of the individual emirates will decide whether or not to grant access to land and permission to build houses of worship within their emirates. For more information, call the Ministry of Information and Culture on 02 446 6145.

If a group chooses to worship in a private home, keep in mind that the UAE government doesn't allow any attempt to convert people from the Muslim faith. Non-Muslims who have been caught proselytising or distributing religious literature may face criminal prosecution and imprisonment for engaging in behaviour offensive to Islam."
(emphasis added)

Sunni (nearly every mosque in Abu Dhabi Emirate is Sunni):
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Markaz E Hussaini, Abu Dhabi http://on.fb.me/jwEwt2
(this info from Shia Chat forums, http://bit.ly/jixj1Y)

Christian churches

St Andrew's Church, Abu Dhabi http://www.standrewauh.org/index.php
Anglican Church, Al Ain 02 446 1631 (St Andrew's Centre, AD)

St Joseph's Cathedral, Abu Dhabi http://www.stjosephsabudhabi.org/
St Mary's Catholic Church, Al Ain http://www.stmarysalain.com/

Evangelical Community Church of Abu Dhabi http://www.eccad.org/
Evangelical Church of Al Ain, 03 722 3337 http://www.aaec.ae/


St George Indian Orthodox Cathedral, Abu Dhabi http://www.iocad.com/
St Antony Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Abu Dhabi http://www.stantony.ae/
St Stephen's Syrian Orthodox Church, Abu Dhabi http://www.ststephensauh.com/
Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas, Abu Dhabi 02 446 4578

Vineyard Pentecostal Church, Abu Dhabi http://www.inhisvineyard.com/

Hindu & Buddhist temples, Other
There are no Hindu, Buddhist, or Sikh temples in Abu Dhabi. Any religious group that does not have its own building, however, is free to use the facilities of other religious organisations or to worship in private home - the police and other security forces will not interfere with such gatherings.
(from Abu Dhabi Week [see above for link])


Do they have my favourite brand of shampoo?
They might. People come from around the WORLD to shop in the UAE, so chances are good they'll have everything. Sometimes. But chances are equally as good that imported Western brands are going to cost import prices – local brands may be better. Besides, if you're going to be here 2 years or longer, are you really going to send back to Wellington for your regular supply of _______?

How am I supposed to make Thanksgiving dinner?
Wing it. And check out the expat favourite shops, like Spinney's. You might just luck into a bona fide turkey and stuffing.  You can buy turkey here.

I am vegetarian/vegan/lactose intolerant/coeliac, will I be able to find specialty items/shops?
Probably. (More details to come.)
Check out gulfnews.com - it has an article about an organic farmer in AD - 60 types of vegies and often cheaper than imported organics. Need to hunt the guy down, peeps!

I enjoy the occasional glass of wine/vodka tonic/Long Island iced tea. Where's the alcohol? 
There are a few 'back alley'  places to buy alcohol, but it is very pricey!  Also, it is illegal to consume alcohol without a license although some do.  Most ( but not all) hotels have a bar.

In order to legally purchase alcohol for home consumption, you must get an alcohol permit. Exactly what this entails will be explained during orientation.

In large cities (Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, etc) some supermarkets will have a “pork room” hidden away in order to cater to pork-eating foreigners. If you can't find it, or if you are placed out in the sticks, well...give up pork. Try camel instead.

Why is catsup and Kraft mac'n'cheese so expensive?
Because we are not in a Barenaked Ladies song, silly. Also, try different brands. Same stuff, different label. Better still, try eating stuff that's NOT imported, or at least that's imported from a nearby source.

Where can I find classroom supplies? 
 There are several stores where you can but supplies.
Sure, but what about dry-erase markers? 
Got it
Okay, then, smarty, what about construction paper?
That too

Technology and Entertainment

Can I bring my computer? 

Can I skype? 
Only if you download/set it up before you get here.

What is a VPN and why do I need or want it? 
 This allows you to access sites that are blocked for one reason or another.  Some of the resource sites I used regularly at home are blocked here.
Fine. So which one should I get? 

Can I bring my mobile phone?
Sure. It'll be expensive as hell (unless you can just change out the SIM card), but you'll need to get it unlocked/jailbroken/whatever in your home country.

Can I bring my xbox?
 yes, but not all games will work, and you'll need a converter.
Can I bring my ipod?
Can I bring my kindle?
Can I bring my dvds? 
Does netflix really work over there?
With a VPN, you may be able to stream videos. MAYBE.
I just want to buy a book! In English! 
Plenty of bookstores!

Do I need a convertor, adapter or any other mysterious mechanical item to make my electronics work? 
 YES!!! If you are from North America, absolutely. If you are from Ireland/UK, not so much.

An ADAPTER is something you put on the end of your power cable. It allows you to plug your item into the wall because if your item has 2 round prongs and the wall has 3 square prongs, you need an adapter. a CONVERTER is a small box that will change the voltage, so if your item is wired for 110 volts you can still plug it in to the 220volt curcuits here.

ADAPTER (just the plugs)

CONVERTER (the box in the box)

What is the voltage, and what do the plugs look like?
  • 220v, UK-style plug.

    Adapters and convertors can be easily purchased in the UAE.

    If you're coming from the US or Canada, leave your hair dryer at home! It will burn out. Even with adapter/convertor.

For the Ladies

When they say covered, what do they mean?
Shoulders, knees, collarbones, elbows & ankles to be thoroughly covered. Your school may have more specific requirements. Out and about in regular public? It's appropriate to cover shoulders and knees in the city. If you're placed further out in the desert, increased modesty may make you feel more comfortable.

Do I have to be covered whenever I go out in public?
Have to be? No. Ought to be? More or less. As a Westerner, you'll likely stand out and receive stares and possibly catcalls regardless of how you dress. The more conservative the better, though, especially when you leave the cosmopolitan confines of Abu Dhabi City. 
What about swimming, working out, etc.?
You can usually buy a membership to the hotel gym and pool, wherein you can dress without concern and swim with fewer stares. When swimming at the beach, be aware that you absolutely WILL be stared at, even if you go to a women-and-children only beach. 

Do they have hair salons that cater to Black hair?
Yes. More details to come.
What about my weave?
My braids?
My locs?
My treated hair?

Can I buy my MAC concealer while I'm there?
Yes. Major labels (especially as the labels become more upscale) of clothing, cosmetics, and sometimes shoes are available. Just be aware that due to different countries' import/export laws, the ingredients may be slightly altered. (LUSH products are an excellent example of this - a very few ingredients in UK-based products are not allowed in the Canada-based products for import into the US. My life is SO HARD as a result!)

I'm really particular on the brand of tampon I use. Can I find it there?  Depends on the brand.  Just ask and we can let you know. OB is pretty universal, but beyond that it's somewhat hit and miss. Stock up when you find them!

Do they have tanning salons?
 No.  The trend here is whitening/lightening.

Are there things women aren't supposed to do in public?
 NO public displays of affection. Also, women smoking cigarettes are frowned on. 

Why doesn't my school's principal look me in the eye or shake my hand?
If you have a male principal, he will probably not shake your hand. This is due to Quranic standards of modesty and tradition: verse 30 - 31 ( chapter: The Light) Annoor

Can I wear sandals? 

Can I get my birth control prescription refilled?
 Yes, even without a prescription! (Check in with a doctor first if you're not sure what to do.) 
Birth control pills are available over the counter in most chemist's/pharmacies. Just ask the chemist. Condoms are also available. If you don't see them at the chemist, ask.