AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: ESL, Saudi Arabia

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    A fascinating paper written by Mohd. Mahib ur Rahman and Eid Alhaisoni entitled “Teaching English in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and Prospects”.

    A must read for anyone teaching ESL in Saudi.

    Click here for the PDF

    Credits –


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Saudi Arabia

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    Hello World – On the 10th March 2014 at 09:11AM our beautiful daughter Zayna was born, at Al Mana General Hospital in Hofuf, Al Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.

    Along with the excitement of our new bundle of joy comes the paper work to process since being born in Saudi. I hope you will find the below a little helpful of going through the process.

    On Birth:

    At the hospital they will provide you a notification of birth and a vaccination card. The “On birth”  sectionshould have been completed. Get the notification of birth document stamped at the hospital (there are 3 stamps needed and it should take a day or 2 so you might need to come back). They will also ask for copies of the parents Iqama’s (Residence Cards) so keep that on hand.

    Birth Certificate:

    Next up you will need to visit the Ministry of Interior (Update: You may be required to make an appointment now online). There is a window (In Al Ahsa – Window #5) for Non-Saudi’s (Notification of Birth – Non-Saudi) have the following documentation ready:

    – Completed application form – this you will receive at the ministry and is in Arabic – so have someone help you with this one
    – Bring along the following documents.
    – Parent’s Passports (originals and copies)
    – Parent’s Iqamas (originals and copies)
    – Parent’s marriage certificate (originals and copies)
    – Notification of birth (originals and copies)

    Don’t expect the teller to speak any English but they might speak a little broken English. Immediately they will print an Arabic Birth Certificate. It’s free. Once completed you will need to get in stamped by the security and the ministry official – they usually in the same building.


    Next up you need to visit the South African Embassy in Riyadh (or consular in Jeddah). We went to Riyadh details are:

    South African Embassy
    King Khalid Road
    Um Al-Hammam East

    Tel: + 966 1 442 9718
    Tel: + 966 1 442 9719
    Tel: + 966 1 442 9720
    Fax: + 966 1 442 9708
    Fax: + 966 1 442 9712

    GPS Co-ordinates – 24.668345, 46.663892 or 24°40’06.0″N 46°39’50.0″E

    [wpgmza id=”1″]

    Gentleman in charge is Vinesh / Vuyo and their manager is Lesley.

    Have the following documents ready:

    – Completed application form – this you will receive at the embassy (BI-24 / DHA-529 / BI-73)
    – Bring along the following documents.
    – Parent’s Passports (originals and copies)
    – Parent’s Iqamas (originals and copies)
    – Parent’s marriage certificate (originals and copies)
    – Notification of birth (originals and copies)
    – Parents ID Books (originals and copies)
    – Birth Certificate – Needs to be translated into English by an approved translator
    – Passport photos (35mm x 44mm) – Keep 8 just in case (only 4 was used)

    Checklist is here.

    Note: you can apply for a temporary passport which is issued immediately at SR100 – Permanent one is SR223.

    Note 2: Most taxi’s don’t like to visit embassies and those that do might be expensive. Negotiate

    Note 3: Get the taxi’s number so you can call him when you done.

    Note 4: Expect the process for temp passport to take about 4 hours – Embassy times are from 08:30 to 16:00 so start early.


    Lastly is the Iqama.

    Visit the Passport office (Jawasat)

    In Al Ahsa > Foreign Section > Window 11 – Gentlemen’s name is Waleed – keep the following documentation ready:

    – Completed application form – this you will receive at the ministry and is in Arabic – so have someone help you with this one
    – Bring along the following documents.
    – Parent’s Passports (originals and copies)
    – Parent’s Iqamas (originals and copies)
    – Notification of birth (originals and copies)
    – Passport of baby (Temporary or Permanant)
    – Birth Certificate

    Note: they will ask to register the dependant on the mother or father’s profile. I chose the father as I’m registered with Ministry of Interior online ( – so I can use the e-services of visa and exit/re-entry etc.

    Don’t expect the teller to speak any English but they might speak a little broken English. Immediately they will print an Iqama. It’s free.

    Wooooh … And you all done.


    Contact Details:


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Saudi Arabia

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    Okay as per new law all Saudi mobile networks need to update their mobile phone SIM cards and link them to a VISA/Iqama (Residence) or ID (Citizen) number.

    If you on Mobily and would like to register your SIM check out the attached guide where you can DIY. All you need is:

    – ID Type,
    – ID Number
    – SIM Card Number
    – PUK 2
    – and a scanned copy of your ID.

    Review the comprehensive guide here.

    Credits to:


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Arabic, ESL

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    Teaching Strategies for Saudi Arabia: Introduction and Summary Of Overall Findings

    What follows is a series of posts that summarize  the findings of an anonymous online survey conducted by Sarah Dubois and Marianne Graff in June 2012.

    We surveyed teachers working in Saudi Arabia and received 22 responses from women and 4 responses from men working in a university preparatory program (like grade 13, with an intensive English course component).

    We have broken it into 6 posts, filled with direct quotes (anonymous) from the participants, for easier navigation and discovery.

    Part One includes a general summary and advice based on the overall findings. Part Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six include direct quotes gathered anonymously from participants with more in-depth and personal advice and suggestions.

    1. Part One: Introduction and Summary Of Overall Findings
    2. Part Two: Teaching strategies that have worked well for other teachers teaching in Saudi Arabia
    3. Part Three: Activities that work well to keep students on task
    4. Part Four: classroom management tips for new teachers
    5. Part Five: Student motivation strategies
    6. Part Six: Additional advice



    Here are some strategies for teaching in Saudi Arabia suggested by the 22 teachers who participated in an anonymous online survey conducted in June 2012 by Sarah Dubois and Marianne Graff.

    The questions asked were about teaching strategies that worked well in Saudi Arabia based on personal experience, what worked and what did not, lessons learned, and questions about specific strategies for getting a class back on track, classroom management tips and student motivational suggestions. We also asked for general comments.

    What follows is a summary of responses grouped into three general areas for easier reading.


    Don’t lose your cool

    Teachers overwhelmingly said that the students reacted poorly to approaches that the students perceived as authoritarian and punitive. Students responded well to praise and encouragement and poorly to raised voices and power struggles (e.g. over cell phone usage). Specific comments made included: don`t yell, don’t embarrass or single out students in front of others for punishment, and always remain calm. Many warned against treating the students like children. Giving respect as a way to get it back was suggested by a number of respondents.

    Be open minded

    A significant number of teachers remarked that it was important to keep open-minded and enthusiastic. Students seem to quickly pick up  on a teachers’ negative feelings and thoughts and if their culture is being rejected. Some responded that it helped to admit you were new to Saudi Arabia, and ask that students to tell you if you do something that is not culturally sensitive, and to be willing to learn new things along with them.

    Be open and personal

    It was striking how often teachers mentioned the importance of building relationships on a one to one, individual basis. Many suggested that it worked well for them to share some personal details with the students to help build rapport, and let the line between teacher and student blur more than perhaps is necessary in other places in the world.

    Interestingly, we noticed two opposite trends in the survey results on this point: while many suggested that teachers should develop a personal, caring and supportive relationship with students, a significant number were adamant that you had to be their teacher and not their friend, indicating that being firm and strict was the best way to maintain respect and control in the classroom. It seems to us (the authors) that striking a balance between these two extremes, by maintaining a friendly, kind, and approachable attitude, while staying professional, calm and consistently firm, is perhaps the key to successful teaching in Saudi Arabia.

    Be flexible

    Getting to know students on a personal basis was suggested as a useful strategy for motivating students. Tailoring lessons to meet their needs and interests with extra materials such as video clips, realia like newspaper articles, and website content (with approval) was mentioned as very helpful. Changing the flow of the lesson as needed depending on the reaction of the students was strongly encouraged.

    Don’t take it personally

    Since English is a required course and students are paid according to their attendance, many students may not like English or be motivated to learn it, no matter how much or how often the lessons are modified to interest and suit them. It was suggested to accept that everything you try may not work, and what worked one day may not work the next. Continually trying new tactics and activity ideas and helping the students see how learning English fits into their larger education and career plans may help. It was noted by some that if the students were not intrinsically motivated, there was nothing you could do. Don’t take it personally. Focus on the students who are wiling to learn and move on.


    Be Firm but Kind

    It was noteworthy how many respondents said that it was important to set ground rules the first day of class, and stick to them. Being understanding, but firm, and calmly repeating the ground-rules daily and applying them consistently until learned was a tactic reported by many of the teachers surveyed.

    Constantly Mix It Up

    It works well to make activities as interactive as possible according to the many teachers polled. A large number of teachers noted that it worked well to constantly mix the students up and do a variety of activities including pair-work, group work, and changing the seating plan on a regular basis such as once a week. The students may not like it, preferring to sit with their friends, but it keeps chatting down and helps keep the whole class focused and actively participating.

    Roll with it

    A significant number of teachers reported that it worked best to quietly wait during a rowdy spell for it to pass naturally, rather than shout over top.  One noted that if you try to stop an animated conversation going on in Arabic, they will just whisper and continue. Staying rock still, turning off the lights, and letting students police themselves to quiet the loud ones were suggested as effective techniques to regain focus and control of a class without losing dignity and respect.

    Be Realistic

    Closely related to the ideas of being flexible and reacting to student needs as they arise was the suggestion to resist the urge to do ‘’just one more thing’’ because it was in your lesson plan, and there is time to squeeze it in. It was recommended to always remember where the students are at in their day, the week and term overall to reduce your stress when things don`t go according to plan. A number of teachers recommended using activities that require movement, especially in the afternoons, and taking a 5 minute break in class, using this time to do exercises or letting students take bathroom breaks.

    Avoid complicated instructions

    A handful of teachers commented that some of their lessons flopped due to complicated instructions or the fact that instructions were not clearly delivered at the beginning. One respondent noted that it was very important to consolidate instructions at the start of an activity especially if critical thinking was involved.

    Make it into a Game With Points or Hang a Mark on It

    A large number of teachers noted that the students here thrive on team work, and that points-based activities worked well.  Others suggested assigning marks in order to motivate students to complete a task.


    Many mentioned abandoning your preconceived ideas about teaching since  the students here have had a very different learning environment than anything in the west. Specifically, the students here have not had the same style or degree of critical thinking and analysis worked into their education, and have learned by repetition and rote.

    While one respondent commented that perhaps the TESOL and CELTA techniques were too soft and perhaps ineffective given the cultural and educational background of these students, a significant number reported that the TESOL and CELTA techniques they had learned in other places in the world worked well here too.

    Overall, respondents reported that being kind but firm, setting ground rules and sticking to them in a calm, persistent yet kind way, getting to know the students personally and continually trying new activities and management strategies worked well, based on their teaching experience in Saudi Arabia.

    Credits –


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Arabic, Saudi Arabia

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    Are you sometimes confused by Islamic pleasantaries? What does Mashaa-Allah or Inshaa-Allah mean? This post will help you brush up on your arabic pleasantaries as well as learn new ones 🙂  Most Arabic pleasantaries are also duas.

    Assalaamu ‘Alaikum

    A greeting made upon meeting a Muslim
    Translation: Peace be upon you

    Wa’alaikum Assalaam
    The response to the greeting above
    Translation: And peace be upon you

    Assalaamu ‘Alaikum wa rahmatullah
    A lengthier formal greeting/supplication to a Muslim
    Translation: May the peace and mercy of Allah be upon you

    Wa’alaikum Assalaam wa rahmatullah
    A response to the formal greeting/supplication above
    Translation: And may the peace and mercy of Allah be upon you

    Assalaamu ‘Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh 
    A formal greeting to a Muslim with additional supplications
    Translation: May the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you

    Wa’alaikum Assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh 
    A response to the formal greeting to a Muslim above
    Translation: And may the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you

    Bismillah ar Rahman ar Rahim 
    Before beginning an action [from the Sunnah]
    Translation: In the name of Allah, most Gracious most Merciful

    JazakAllah Khairan
    An expression of thanks or gratitude
    Translation: May Allah reward you with good
    (Reply: Wa iyak(i), wa iyakum; Translation: And you)

    BarakAllahu feekum or Allah baraka feek(i) 
    Responding to someone’s thanks/a way of expressing thanks
    Translation: May Allah bless you
    (Reply: Wa feek(i), Wa feekum; Translation: And you)

    HayakAllah or HayakumAllah
    Translation: May Allah prolong you in life/may Allah preserve you
    (Reply: Allah ye-hayeek(i); Translation: Allah increase you as well)

    For expressing surprise (positive or negative) at something
    Translation: Glory be to Allah

    Inshaa’ Allah 
    Upon expressing a desire to do something
    Translation: If Allah wills/Through Allah’s will

    Another means of expressing a desire to do something
    Translation: By the permission of Allah

    Seeking forgiveness or repentance for sins before Allah
    Translation: I ask Allah for forgiveness

    Mashaa’ Allah 
    For expressing appreciation of something good
    Translation: As Allah has willed

    For showing gratitude to Allah after success or even after completing anything
    Translation: Praise be to Allah

    To be said at the end of a supplication (du’a in singular form, ad’iyah in plural)
    Translation: O Allaah, accept our invocation

    SallAllahu ‘alayhi wa salaam
    A supplication following the name of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)
    Translation: Peace and blessings be upon him (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)

    ‘Alayhi salaam
    A supplication following the name of a Prophet or Messenger
    Translation: Peace and blessings be upon him (‘alayhis salaam)

    RadhiAllahu ‘Anhu 
    A supplication following the name of male companion [Sahabi] of the Prophet
    Translation: May Allah be pleased with him (radhiAllahu ‘anhu)

    RadhiAllahu ‘Anha 
    A supplication following the name of female companion [Sahabiyah] of the Prophet
    Translation: May Allah be pleased with her (radhiAllahu ‘anhu)

    RadhiAllahu ‘Anhum
    A supplication following the names of the companions [Sahaba] of the Prophet
    Translation: May Allah be pleased with them (radhiAllahu ‘anhu)

    Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon 
    This is uttered as an expression upon hearing the news of some loss or death
    Translation: To Allah we belong and to Him is our return

    La hawla wala quwata illah billah 
    This is said to express reverence at the fact that true power lies with Allah alone
    Translation: There is no strength nor power except with Allah

    Tawakkal-tu-‘ala-Allah – I have put my trust in Allah
    Tawkkalna-‘ala-Allah – We have put our trust in Allah

    Rahimahullah – Allah have mercy on him

    A’udhu-bi-Allah – I seek refuge in Allah

    Fi sabeel illah – For the sake of Allah

    Ittaqillah – Fear Allah

    Credit to:


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: PC, Saudi Arabia

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    Working in Saudi, we need to adapt to using the Saudi keyboard and numerals. When installing MS Office 2010 by default (after installing the Arabic Keyboard in Windows) – Arabic text is displayed correctly, however Arabic numerals are typed in the base language i.e. English. To fix …

    In Word 2010:

    – Go to File > Options > Advanced.

    – Scroll down to the Show document content section – you will find the Numeral option. Set it to Context.


    – and you done …

    Happy typing …


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Arabic, Islamic, Saudi Arabia

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    Working in Saudi Arabia has given us a new outlook to Islamic art and the different geometric patterns and design in local mosques and sites.

    Found this wonderful PDF book for designing and working with shapes – see below.

    Islamic Art and Geometric Design



    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: ESL, Saudi Arabia

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    My wife and I have been working at Berlitz Al Ahsa since 2010 and we would like to share our experiences to date.

    From the top …

    The interview process was very swift and the company fulfilled our request to arrive together. We were welcomed to Saudi Arabia by the Manager of Instruction. Our apartment is centrally located and within walking distance to restaurants, supermarkets and malls. The furnished apartment is comfortable and equipped with everything detailed in our contracts.

    Our goal was to experience a different culture, living amongst the local people has enhanced this. Al Ahsa isn’t a large, buzzing city compared to Riyadh, Jeddah or Dammam however is growing rapidly. Al Ahsa has become home and a little part of us now. It’s rich history, traditional values and culture has fascinated us. We love exploring the old castles, museums and markets which are alive with flavour.

    The training on arrival was intensive and effective. It thoroughly prepared us for teaching according to the Berlitz requirements. The trainer was experienced and knowledgable and it equipped us with techniques we still use daily.

    The students are pleasant, respectful and motivated to learn. Classroom sizes are small making teaching an overall personal experience.

    The managers and administrative staff are friendly, helpful and do their best to assist where needed. In general teaching is teaching as there is very little admin work, compared to previous schools – this allows someone who is passionate about teaching to teach as we spend most of our times in the classroom. Selected classrooms have SmartBoards and technology components. We are continuously supported through workshops, meetings etc. which encourages development and collaboration.

    Berlitz Al Ahsa also allowed us to work remotely when we needed to return home for some time. Additionally management went out of their way to assist us when we needed to upgrade our medical insurance – this was truly remarkable. Furthermore, Berlitz Al Ahsa has fulfilled all benefits, to date as per the Saudi labor law.

    In terms reimbursements, claims and salary payouts etc. we have never experienced any delays ever.

    I must add that it’s exciting to work in a rapidly growing company. 2013 has seen many new projects and the staff numbers have doubled.

    It’s been an amazing journey where we have made lots of friends along the way. Interacting with people of different nationalities and cultures has been one of our best experiences. This to me has been a strong personal growth point.

    Overall I would rate Berlitz Al Ahsa 4 out of 5. Although there is some room for improvements, over the past three years I have seen a lot of positive changes, which indicates to me that management and the company is moving in the right direction.


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Arabic, ESL, Saudi Arabia

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    Anyone looking to work in Saudi Arabia and looking for a good, trusted Saudi visa agent – give Mahmoud a call – highly recommended

    Mahmoud A Farah
    Adda recruitment, visa and legalisation

    Tel:               +27 (0) 12 751 1600
    Fax:              +27 (0) 86 602 5770
    Mobile:       +27 (0) 82 902 4500

    Office No: 1; Unit 106
    Java Centre; 285 Lynnwood Road
    Menlo Park; Pretoria; 0081


    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Saudi Arabia

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    Interested in the labor law in Saudi Arabia?

    Read the translated English version here