Confusion hits expat female dependents in Saudi over teaching jobs

Published:  29 Oct at 6 PM
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The reversal of an official Saudi announcement allowing dependent expat female teachers to work in private schools without sponsorship transfers has confused and disappointed those affected.

Expat dependents whose husbands held their sponsorship papers were overjoyed last Friday at the apparent relaxation of the requirement to transfer their iqamas to private schools wishing to employ them as teachers. The new scheme was announced by Ahmed al Humaidan, an undersecretary at the Kingdom’s Ministry of Labour, via the Arab News English language newspaper.

However, their joy was short-lived when, earlier this week, the Labour Office Director told Arab News reporters that the spokesman was mistaken as no decision had yet been made regarding relaxation of the sponsorship rules. Al Humaidan had claimed that the move would help deal with the shortage of private school teachers without resorting to admitting more teachers from overseas.

Al Humaidan had added that foreign female teachers applying for jobs through the Ajeer system whilst being sponsored by their husbands would still need approval from the Ministry of Education. Preference, he said, would be given to Saudi applicants over dependent female expat teachers.

Labour Office Director Sultan al Harbi, however, had a contradictory tale to tell, in that the announcement was premature as discussions were still in progress. A proposal had been accepted, he added, but no conclusion has been reached as Labour Ministry teams were still inspecting Saudi private schools.

Following its original report, the Arab News received literally hundreds of calls from expat female teachers asking for clarification and more details. It’s a big disappointment for expat women wanting to work but restricted by the Saudi sponsorship system.
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