It's not very often I feature a guest post on here, but I quite liked this one that was sent to me by Jess from Tripelio, and so here it is...... complete with all it's SEO links!
In recent years, moving abroad has become easier and easier to do. Maybe your work requires you to move overseas, or maybe you’re just keen on travelling. Even outside of teaching English abroad, there are plenty of jobs available in foreign lands for someone who can speak and read English. The Middle East is a great place to move to, full of fascinating Byzantine, Greek, and Roman ruins; deserts and oases; and good diving. As an important area of the world because of the oil and gas industry and regional politics, you’re sure to have a fascinating time living there.
Before you pack up and move, however, here are some things to keep in mind:
Visas and Regulations
Most countries will not allow you to stay in the country for an extended period of time without getting a specific visa. If you want to reside in a country without working, you will likely need to be able to prove that you have enough funds to cover the entire duration of your stay. Or, if you want to work in a country, you will likely need to get a work visa.
Generally, in order to get a work visa in a country, you will need to have an invitation from an employer, and many countries require you to have this prior to your arrival in the country—that is, you can’t legally just show up and find a job although this may depend on where you have come from. Some countries may require you to file for an exit visa as well. If you decide to leave your job midway through without informing your employer in advance, you could find yourself detained or subject to hefty fines.
Be sure to look into the visa and residency regulations for the country you plan to move to and make sure you gather all the required documents and submit them in time to receive your visa prior to your intended arrival in the country. Also know that there is generally a lot of bureaucracy involved in all of this, so it may be a long and frustrating process!
Moving Your Things
Shipping your things abroad can a bit of a nightmare. You’ll only be allowed a certain amount of luggage on a flight—most airlines won’t let you take more than a few suitcases with you, regardless of how much you’re willing to pay—and international shipping can be expensive. Rather than bring everything you currently own with you, you will likely want to downsize—think about selling or giving away things like clothes and replacing them abroad. Many places in the Middle East are incredibly hot and humid; rather than bringing your jeans from home with you, you’ll likely be more comfortable wearing thin cotton clothing that you can find in your new country.
Of course, some things have too much sentimental value for you to even consider getting rid of them. With these things, you should first think a while about how long you’ll be abroad for—if it’s only a short time, maybe you don’t need to bring them with you and can instead put them in storage for when you return. Or if you will be living in the Middle East long-term, maybe you can store some things now and take more things over with you when you next come back home for a visit.
Status and Safety
Although you will generally be treated with respect, remember that you are a guest in a foreign country and that things may not run exactly the same way as you’re used to back home. You may want to put up a fight if you witness what you consider to be an injustice, but drawing attention to yourself may bring unwanted—and sometimes dangerous—consequences. Remember to be respectful of the customs in your new home. As long as you’re smart about your safety, though, you won’t likely encounter much more danger in the Middle East than you would at home, although this will depend on where you are.
You may notice that as a foreigner, you’re treated differently at work than your native coworkers—even that you’re viewed more of as a worker hired out of necessity than as someone with the special skills to fit that position. The key thing is to not let this get to you and not to voice your criticisms too loudly. In terms of protecting your personal information at work, you may want to set up a VPN prior to your move. This will allow you to share files more safely, which can be especially useful if you’re telecommuting or working with a foreign-based company.
As for females, remember that certain Middle Eastern countries—particularly Saudi Arabia—have a long ways to go in terms of gender equality. Although in certain professions women have the advantage, women outside of the traditional workplace roles might find themselves a bit alienated by their coworkers.
Before you move to your new country, you may want to research its religious customs. Many places in the Middle East are highly religious, and the religion can have a deep impact on the culture of the place. Islam is the most widespread religion in the Middle East, but there are also many adherents of Judaism, Christianity, and other smaller religions—and of course the predominant religion will depend on where exactly you are.
Some countries may have different rules for expats than for locals—for example, in Oman, the local Muslim population is not allowed to purchase alcohol to take home, but expats are allowed to purchase alcohol in specially licensed shops. You will also want to make sure you know which days are religious days Friday is a religious day from Muslims and shops tend to open later in most Gulf Countries. As with other aspects of culture, you needn’t worry overmuch about your safety regardless of your personal religion as long as you are respectful of others’ religion and don’t voice your opinion or criticism too much.
One of the benefits of living anywhere abroad is that it gives you unique chances to travel around a new part of the world. The bulk of the cost of any vacation is generally going to be your flight—especially if you’re going from the United States or London to the Middle East, for example. Once you’ve arrived in the Middle East, it’s much easier and cheaper to take shorter trips to other countries.
Living in the Middle East gives you the chance to visit, say, Egypt or Turkey or Lebanon over a long weekend, and even a visit to Southeast Asia is more doable, with a roughly seven-hour flight instead of the twelve or more hours it will take you from the Americas.
The world is yours to explore, and the Middle East is a great place to begin. Even if you aren’t interested in religion—the three major religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all originated in the Middle East!—there is a long history here that is fascinating to discover. Whether you move to the Middle East for a short time or a long time, you’re sure to gain at least a few unique stories in your time there.