Saudi Arabia: Dar Al Fikr Faculty Handbook 1990


Woodrow W. Denham


Draft completed 17 June 1990
Reformatted 1 November 2001


To download this file in Adobe Acrobat (.PDF) format, click here (396k).



Faculty Personnel Policies








Faculty Job Descriptions

Living in Jiddah


Introduction to the Faculty Handbook

As a current or potential faculty member at Dar Al Fikr School, you need to understand what is expected of you as an instructor and what the school offers you in return for your services. This Handbook has been created to give you instructions you need and to answer the most common questions that you may ask about life in Jiddah (and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in general, and about Dar Al Fikr school in particular).

The first section of the handbook is a summary of Faculty Personnel Policies that serves several purposes. It informs potential faculty members of their rights and responsibilities if they accept appointments at Dar Al Fikr, is issued officially to new faculty members with their letters of appointment, is used in faculty orientation at the beginning of each academic year, and is used for reference by faculty members during their appointments at Dar Al Fikr.

The second section of the handbook contains a brief discussion of life in Saudi Arabia in general and Jiddah in particular. We have included this section for our faculty members from North America, Europe, Asia and Middle Eastern countries other than Saudi Arabia. We hope this information will ease your transition to living in Jiddah and make your stay with us a most pleasant experience.

Our decision to publish the first edition of this handbook for the 1411-1412 academic year was based on our commitment to increasing the stability of our faculty and our programs. To that end, the handbook was complete and correct at the time of publication. However, policies and procedures are subject to change.

There are three important sources of change at Dar Al Fikr:

1. The school is new. Hence, many policy issues have not yet been firmly and finally resolved. As the school becomes older and better established, its policies will stabilize as a result of our refining them through the years.

2. The school is innovative. Dar Al Fikr is the first Moslem private school in Saudi Arabia to attempt to integrate the best of modern Western technology and training with the best of Saudi Arabian and Islamic culture. In doing something unprecedented, we necessarily take risks and encounter problems. The synthesis of East and West is difficult to achieve, and our attempts to do so necessarily involve a great deal of honest experimentation. Changes in policies must occur as we seek to achieve this synthesis more perfectly.

3. The school must satisfy the re­quirements of the Saudi Arabian gov­ernment agencies that supervise its aca­demic programs and administrative op­erations. When changes in government policies become effective, Dar Al Fikr must comply immediately.


We hope you will find the summary of faculty personnel policies to be a useful guide as a potential or current faculty member, and ask you to re­spond flexibly when policy change oc­cur, as they must.

Just as Dar Al Fikr is an innovative school, Saudi Arabia is an innovative country that is experiencing extraordinarily rapid social and technological change. Consequently, some of the information in the second section of the book will become outdated during your stay with us. Again, we hope you will bear with us in good humor if and when that happens.


Faculty Personnel Policies

Recruitment And Appointment


When vacancies occur at Dar Al Fikr, Saudi Arabian nationals who are eligible for employment are given the right of first refusal. If no qualified Saudis can be found to fill the vacancies, foreign teachers are recruited in Egypt, Jordan, Europe and the USA.

Dar Al Fikr administrators recruit teachers in Egypt and Jordan. Authorized English-speaking Dar Al Fikr faculty members collect and screen applications and conduct initial interviews of potential employees in Europe and the USA; an administrator then goes to participate in final interviews and the signing of contracts.

Annual recruitment occurs in the spring and summer for the academic year beginning in September. Additional recruitment may occur at any time when a vacancy occurs during the academic year.


Basic Requirements     

Dar Al Fikr is a Saudi Arabian institution and complies with Islamic and Saudi Arabian laws and customs. These laws and customs are reflected in the restrictions placed on employment at the School and elsewhere in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Sex. Saudi Arabian schools are based on strict separation of the sexes above the age of six years. Males only can be hired to teach at the Boys School, females only at the Girls School and Kindergarten. No excep­tions to policies concerning the sex of applicants can be considered.

Age. Applications from people less than 24 years old or more than 60 years old ordinarily will not be considered.

Race. There are no restrictions on race.

Nationality. Applications from residents of Israel and Eastern Block Communist countries are not accepted.

Marital status. Married couples are preferred, but applications from single teachers of both sexes are considered.

Degrees. Applicants with BA degrees are acceptable, those with MA degrees are preferred. Degrees must be in fields relevant to the position for which one is applying, and must have been awarded by accredited and reputable colleges or universities.

Experience. Applicants must have at least two years of relevant teaching experience and receive good references from current and previous employers to be considered for ap­pointment. In some circumstances, additional experience may substitute for insufficient formal education.

Teacher certification. Board certification is required, but waivers are granted to exceptionally well-qualified applicants who lack certification.



Applications are submitted in writing in response to vacancy announcements or advertisements. Each applica­tion must include a cover letter, a re­sume, and at least three letters of reference, or names, addresses and telephone numbers of three people who have agreed to serve as referees. Applicants are encouraged to submit directly relevant supporting materials such as videotapes of themselves in the classroom, audiotapes or portfolios of their artistic work, copies of publications, and other evidence of their achievements.

Dar Al Fikr accepts nominations from friends of the school, and often invites those nominees to submit ap­plications. However, nominations are not binding on the school, and applications from nominees are subject to the same evaluation procedures that apply to all other applications.



Initial evaluation of Middle Eastern applicants is conducted at Dar Al Fikr School. Initial evaluation of applicants in Europe and the USA is conducted by the School’s representative in Europe and the USA.

When an applicant’s file is complete, the School or its representative evaluates all written materials and checks all references. This screening yields a short list of qualified candidates who can be considered for appoint­ment.   Applicants remaining under consid­eration are interviewed by the School or its representative. Further screening occurs during the interview, and the terms of one’s possible contract are negotiated at that time. Under some circumstances, interviews of foreign applicants may be conducted at the School’s expense in Jiddah, but this happens only rarely.   Finalists for appointment must be approved by potential teaching colleagues and senior administrators in Jiddah.   Three qualified people are selected for appointment to each position. The best qualified applicant has the right of first refusal.



An applicant who is offered a position at Dar Al Fikr receives a provisional letter of appointment, a copy of the contract, a Faculty Handbook, and instructions and forms to be used in completing the application process.   The applicant must respond to the offer of appointment within fifteen days, or the offer is withdrawn.   Final appointment is contingent on further evaluation of credentials, medical records, visa applications, and other documents. The offer of appointment to foreign applicants can-be withdrawn at any time prior to award of an entry visa by the Saudi Arabian Embassy.



Government restrictions apply to which categories of dependants can reside in Saudi Arabia with foreign in­structors. If a dependant in a prohibited category must live with you, you cannot be appointed to a position at Dar Al Fikr School. Requests for exceptions cannot be considered.

The following restrictions apply to the admission of instructors’ children:

Non-Moslem dependent children who are being educated according to the British system can complete their 0-levels in international schools in Jiddah, but cannot complete their A-levels in Jiddah except through correspondence courses and private tutoring. Non-Moslem dependent children who are being educated according to the American system can complete the 9th Grade in international schools in Jiddah, but cannot go beyond that level in Jiddah.

Parents of children who cannot continue their educations in Jiddah must make arrangements for those children to attend school elsewhere.    Children who attend school outside the Kingdom can receive visitors visas to visit their parents in Jiddah.


Academic credentials

Original degrees must be presented for evaluation by Dar Al Fikr School and validation by the Government of Saudi Arabia. Instructions for complying with this requirement are included with the letter of appointment.

Degrees from foreign applicants must be validated by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the country in which the degrees were awarded. When degrees cannot be validated, offers of employ­ment are withdrawn.

Either the original degrees or certified copies of them, with Government validation stamps attached, must remain in an instructor’s permanent file at Dar Al Fikr School until the end of the contract, at which time they are returned to the departing instructor.



All instructors and their accompanying dependents must be in good health. Instructions for demonstrating compliance with this requirement are included with the letter of appointment.

Preliminary medical examinations must be performed in the home countries of foreign applicants. Required documentation includes a medical history record, a medical examination report, results of standard laboratory tests including an AIDS test, an X-ray report and a dental examination report.

In Saudi Arabia and some other countries, medical reports must be completed at hospitals or clinics prescribed by Dar Al Fikr School or by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the applicant’s home country. In other countries, reports can be prepared at hospitals or clinics of the applicant’s choice, but the reports must be validated by the Saudi Arabian Embassy and the government of the country in which the report is prepared. Failure of the medical examination, or failure to complete the validation process successfully, results in the withdrawal of the offer of appointment.

It is most important that medical examinations of foreign applicants and their dependants be performed properly in the applicant’s home country. A final medical examination is performed immediately after foreign instructors and their dependants arrive in Saudi Arabia. Failure of this examination results in immediate deportation of applicants and/or dependants at the applicants’ expense.



Passports are required of all foreign nationals. They must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival in Saudi Arabia. Instructions for delivering passports to Saudi Arabian Embassies for validation are included with the letter of appointment.


Entry Visas

Foreign instructors and their accompanying dependants must have Saudi Arabian entry visas in hand before departing for Saudi Arabia. Such visas cannot be issued in the Kingdom, and people arriving without them will be deported immediately at their own expense. Application forms and instructions are included with the letter of appointment.

Visa applications are processed by Saudi Embassies in the applicant’s home country and country of residence.

If an instructor has dependants who might wish to visit the Kingdom, the instructor must apply for a visitor’s visa after arriving in the Kingdom. Relatives eligible for visitors visas include parents, siblings and children. No more than two visitors visas can be issued to one instructor at one time.


Additional Required Documents

Foreign applicants should bring copies of the following documents with them:

You must have these documents translated into Arabic after you arrive in Jiddah in order to drive or buy a car, stay in a hotel with your spouse, or engage in any of a large number of other activities that do not require official approval in some other countries.

You will need many black-and-­white passport photographs (2.5 x 3.5cm) to use on official documents immediately after you arrive in Saudi Arabia, but they are inexpensive and easy to obtain in Jiddah. There is no need to bring them with you.


Reimbursement of Expenses

Dar Al Fikr does not automatically reimburse its employees for expenses they incur in conjunction with satisfying the following recruitment and appointment requirements:

The school feels that these expenses should be borne by employees as their legitimate costs for obtaining employment.

Payments for medical examinations in foreign countries can be reimbursed by the school. Submit receipts and documentation to the administration after arriving at Dar Al Fikr.

As indicated elsewhere in this handbook, Dar Al Fikr does not reim­burse foreign employees’ expenses as­sociated with ground transportation to or from ports of embarkation within their countries of origin, and pays none of the costs associated with moving household goods to or from the Kingdom.




If you are a Saudi Arabian national employed by Dar Al Fikr School, the school is simply your employer; if you are a foreign national employed by the school, the school is both your em­ployer and your sponsor.

In order for a foreign national to enter Saudi Arabia, a responsible indi­vidual or organization must agree to employee you or otherwise be legally responsible for you. If you are an ex­patriate employee, your employer is your sponsor; if you are the wife or child of an expatriate employee, your husband or father is your sponsor and the man’s employer is his sponsor.

In its role as employer, Dar Al Fikr is regulated by labor laws similar to those that apply in most free market economies. In its role as sponsor, the school has additional important re­sponsibilities for your presence and be­havior in Saudi Arabia.

As an adult, you are legally re­sponsible for your own actions in Saudi Arabia as you are elsewhere. However, a sponsor also is legally responsible for each person whom it sponsors. If an employee breaks the law, the sponsor can be punished; if an employee leaves the country without paying his bills, the sponsor can be forced to pay them; if a single woman becomes pregnant, the sponsor can be held morally, legally and financially re­sponsible. The sponsor is responsible for reporting and stopping violations that come to its attention, and for termi­nating contracts and assisting in depor­tations when that becomes necessary.

Obviously a sponsor has a very strong interest in insuring that everyone he sponsors abides by the laws of Islam and Saudi Arabia, and a very strong interest in keeping his employees inside the country when they are sup­posed to be in, and getting them out when their contracts end.

The role of sponsor is potentially as difficult for the sponsor as for the person sponsored, but it is part of the price that Saudi Arabia has elected to pay in order to maintain the integrity of its Islamic society while undertaking rapid technical and economic develop­ment.   You must cooperate with your sponsor to make your stay in Saudi Arabia a pleasant one.


Saudi law is Islamic law. Any violation of Islamic law while in Saudi Arabia is treated as a violation of the terms of one’s contract at Dar Al Fikr School.

Each contract is written in Arabic and a faithful English language translation is provided to non-Arabic speaking instructors. However, in case of contract disputes, the Arabic version of the contract takes precedence over the English translation.

Contract disputes and all other legal matters that arise while in Saudi Arabia shall be settled at the Saudi Labor Office or in Saudi courts only. Any person accepting a teaching contract at Dar Al Fikr School must be prepared to live according to Saudi Arabian laws; failure to do so can have serious consequences.


Contracts for foreign employees become effective on the date of arrival in the Kingdom, and end 45 days after the last day of the second term of the academic year.

The first three months of the contract constitute a probationary period during which instructors’ contracts may be cancelled without notice because of poor performance, failure to comply with the school’s policies, failure to adapt satisfactorily to life in Saudi Arabia, or for other causes that interfere with the instructor’s ability to do his or her job effectively. Grounds for early termination after the probationary period ends are specified clearly in the contract, and are unexceptional.


Renewal of Contracts

Contract renewals and terminations for the following year cannot be con­firmed until after all final examinations have been completed and the results declared at the end of the current aca­demic year.  

However, in order for the school to determine its hiring requirements for the following academic year, all instructors are asked to indicate, on or about 1 May of each year, whether they want to re­new their contracts for the following year.

Foreign instructors who decline to renew their contracts will receive exit-only visas at the end of the second term, and their end-of-contract in­demnities will be included with their fi­nal paychecks in accordance with labor laws.

Those who say they wish to renew their contracts will be processed in ei­ther of two ways. If the school will renew their contracts, they will receive exit-reentry visas and will not receive end-of-contract indemnities which are disbursed only in conjunction with exit-only visas. If the school will not renew their contracts, they will be processed as if they had declined to renew their contracts.

Please note that instructors who re­new their contracts but fail to return to the school to honor those contracts the following year thereby forfeit their end-of-contract indemnities.

Identification Cards

Upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, foreign instructors must give their passports to Dar Al Fikr School for safekeeping. At that time the School applies to the Saudi Arabian government for an identity and residence card called an iqama to be issued to the instructor for use within the Kingdom.

Moslems receive white iqamas, non-Moslems receive brown ones. The cards are issued for two years each, and sponsors are responsible for renewing them when they expire.

Instructors who leave the Kingdom on holidays, vacations and official school business reclaim their passports and leave their iqamas at the school.   Upon returning to the Kingdom, they return their passports to the school and reclaim their iqamas. Upon leaving Saudi Arabia on exit-only visas, they reclaim their passports and give up their iqamas permanently.

Just as Saudi nationals are required to carry their national identity cards at all times, so too expatriate employees are required to carry their iqamas at all times. In addition to using them for identification in most business and government transactions, foreign employees must attach photocopies of them to drivers license applications, car registrations, and all sorts of other documents.

Transferable iqamas are issued to technical and professional employees, which includes Dar Al Fikr instructors. These iqamas allow employers to release employees from their contracts within Saudi Arabia and transfer sponsorship to other Saudi employers. In other words, if you have a transferable iqama, you can take another job in Saudi Arabia when your current contract ends IF your current sponsor agrees to the transfer. The new sponsor then assumes full responsibility for the employee, including responsibility for returning the employee to his home country when his contract ends.

Nontransferable iqamas are issued to laborers and unskilled workers; their sponsors must return them to their countries of origin when their contracts end.

A expatriate man working in Saudi Arabia always receives his own iqama in conjunction with his own contract and his own visa. An expatriate woman who lives in Saudi Arabia is listed on her husband’s iqama if she simply accompanies her husband (joint iqama). If she comes to work on her own employment contract, whether she is married or single, she receives her own iqama (separate iqamas). If a woman accompanies her husband to Saudi Arabia without making prior arrangements to work in the Kingdom then finds a job after she arrives, her name will be removed from her husband’s iqama and she will receive a separate iqama.

If you lose your iqama, you must notify the police and run an advertisement in the local newspapers. Then you must take a copy of the ad, a letter from your sponsor and SR 1000 to the Passport Office and apply for a replacement. Then you must wait for a month or so to receive the new one, during which time all of those activities that depend on having an iqama are interrupted or delayed. Losing one’s iqama is not a good thing to do.



Base Wage

Dar Al Fikr does not use a uniform base wage scale. Rather, the school and each potential instructor agree to a salary for the instructor based on a) the school’s needs, b) the potential instruc­tor’s skills, experience, credentials and salary requirements, and c) salaries paid by comparable institutions to instructors with comparable backgrounds occupy­ing comparable positions.

Since the normal work week is approximately 30% longer at Dar Al Fikr than at most comparable Arabic institutions, Dar Al Fikr ordinarily attempts to offer salaries that are approximately 30% greater than at other Arabic institutions.

Once a base wage has been accepted by the school and an instructor, it is not subject to renegotiation so long as the instructor remains in his or her original position. If an instructor’s position changes, he or she will negotiate with the school a new base wage that is appropriate to the new position.

Annual pay raises

Dar Al Fikr’s goal is to increase instructors salaries by 5% per year to the maximum allowable for each position. That percentage may not apply to all positions equally and it cannot be met every year, but such is the objective.

Vacation pay

Instructors receive three paid vacations per year, at midyear, at Ramadan and in the summer. Pay for midyear and Ramadan vacations is issued either before or after each vacation at the discretion of the school. Ordinarily pay for these vacations is issued before the vacations begin, but the school cannot guarantee this schedule.

All instructors receive paid 45-day summer vacations even if they decide not to renew their contracts for another year. The amount is prorated if the employee is employed for less than a full academic year. Pay for this vacation is issued at the end of the second term, before the summer vacation begins.

End-of-contract indemnities

The Government of Saudi Arabia requires employers of foreign workers to pay end-of-contract indemnities whose amounts depend upon the instructors’ income and duration of employment.

For the first five years of service, the indemnity equals 1/24th of the final years income for each year of service.

The indemnity for those who remain more than five years equals 5/24th of the final year’s income for the first five years of service plus 2/24th of the final year’s income for each year of service beyond the fifth year.

The final year’s income is the sum of salary, housing allowance and domestic transportation allowance paid from the first day of work through the last day of work at the end of Term 2, plus the 45-day summer vacation pay. Instructor receive their end-of-contract indemnities with their final paychecks.

Receiving pay

Unless alternative arrangements are negotiated, the first day for which instructors receive pay is their first day of work at the school. For example, if transportation delays cause a foreign instructor to arrive at Dar Al Fikr after his or her contract officially begins, the person’s first day at the school shall be the first day for which he or she receives pay.

When instructors terminate their contracts prematurely, the last day for which they receive pay is their last day of work when physically present at the school, normally one month after giving notice of the decision to resign. When the school terminates an instructor’s contract prematurely, the school either gives the instructor one month’s paid notice or pays the instructor for one month of work past the date on which the instructor is dismissed.

Instructors are paid on or about the last day of each Hegira month. Pay is deposited directly to each instructor’s account at a bank. It is essential that each instructor open an account as soon as possible after beginning to work at Dar Al Fikr.


Instructors at Dar Al Fikr pay no Saudi Arabian taxes. Generally speaking, income paid for work at Dar Al Fikr is exempt from all foreign income taxes. However, each foreign instructor is responsible for complying with the tax laws of his or her own country, and should examine those laws carefully before accepting any foreign employment. At the end of the academic year, you may request and receive an income certificate for use in preparing income tax returns for your home country if you need such information.

Income from other sources

Generally speaking, Dar Al Fikr employees are not allowed to accept pay from jobs outside the school and are explicitly prohibited from providing outside tutoring, for a fee, to Dar Al Fikr students or others. However, exceptions can be made by the administration in certain cases.



Medical Care

According to the Dar Al Fikr con­tract: ‘the School reimburses all medical expenses incurred by the employee and his/her family in the Kingdom, exclud­ing dental and optical treatment and costs relating to pregnancy.” According to the letter of appointment that accompanies the contract: “You [are] entitled to ... emergency medical treatment in the Kingdom ... excluding dental, ophthalmic and maternity expenses.” The following comments clarify and expand upon these statements.

Persons covered. Within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, medical care expenses are paid by the school for all employees and their dependants who live with them. The last clause specifically excludes employees’ children or other dependants who live apart from the employees. It means that an employee’s child who attends school in Europe or North America has no coverage under the school’s medical program either outside the Kingdom or when visiting his or her parents in Saudi Arabia.

Items covered. These include out­patient hospital and clinical doctors’ visits; X-rays, laboratory tests and other diagnostic procedures; prescrip­tion medicines; arid treatments and pro­cedures including emergency hospitalization and other essential hospitaliza­tion.   In case of hospitalization, the school pays for accommodation in a 2nd class room (i.e., 2-4 person ward) but not in a 1st class private room. If an employee prefers a private room, the employee must pay the difference in the cost between 2nd class and 1st class. An adult family member is encouraged to stay at the hospital with a patient, and a cot usually is provided for that purpose in 1st class rooms.

Items not covered. The contract specifically excludes all medical costs relating to pregnancy, as well as all dental and optical treatment. In fact, it covers up to SR 1000 per person per year for dental extractions but not for any other dental care. Furthermore, it covers the cost of eye examinations but not the cost of glasses, and makes a similar distinction between medical treatment and other kinds of prosthetic devices.

The Dar Al Fikr contract does not specifically exclude cosmetic surgery and purely elective surgery, but they are not covered. Also, before the School authorizes or pays for medical treatment, it has the right to require employees to obtain second opinions concerning the appropriateness and cost of the prescribed treatment.

Incidental expenses associated with hospitalization, such as charges for telephone calls and cafeteria service, are not covered by the school.

Finally, the school does not cover the cost of outside insurance that employees purchase separately either within the Kingdom or in their home countries.

School authorization. Covered personnel are authorized to obtain emergency medical services at any hospital in the Kingdom whenever those services are required.

Regular (non-emergency) medical care is different. Dar Al Fikr employees are authorized to use only certain designated hospitals for regular care. Currently, they may obtain regular care only from the following:

Paying for medical care. All employees are required to obtain a medical care authorization form from the school before going to a hospital for regular care. The form authorizes the hospital to perform services and send the bill to the school for payment. If this form is completed properly, the school pays for the care directly; if it is not, the patient must pay for the care and request reimbursement from the school. The school is under no obligation to reimburse expenses incurred in this manner. Get the authorization form BEFORE going to the hospital.

Ordinarily patients obtain their prescription medications from the pharmacy at the hospital where they receive medical care. In this case, payment for the medicine is authorized by the school form that authorized the care, and the bill is sent directly from the hospital to the school. If the hospital’s pharmacy does not have the required medication, the patient should obtain it from another pharmacy, pay for it in cash, and submit the receipt to the school for a prompt refund.

Doctor’s medical certification. At the end of a medical visit, an employee must obtain a form from the doctor’s office that lists diagnosis, recommen­dations for hospitalization or home recuperation leave, medications prescribed, and any other relevant information. This form must be returned to the school to account for the employee’s absence at the time of the visit and during home recuperation or hospitalization, to enable the school to authorize further care if needed, and to support the hospital’s request for payments.

Illnesses not requiring office visits. When an employee has a mild illness such as a cold or a minor digestive system malfunction that does not require professional medical attention but is nevertheless serious enough to justify his or her absence from work for a day or two, the employee must notify the school as soon as possible so that substitutes can be found, then submit an explanatory memo to the school upon returning to work. If the school accepts the employee’s explanation for the absence, the employee suffers no penalty; if not, the employee may not receive pay for the period of the absence.

Policies concerning sick leave and maternity leave are discussed in the section on Absences.

Out-of-country medical coverage. Eighty percent of the medical expenses incurred outside the Kingdom are covered for some categories of employees under some conditions. Ask to determine whether you are covered by this plan. When an employee is covered by this plan, it applies only during the academic year, and during the summer when one has renewed ones contract for the following year. It does not apply when employees and their families are in transit to begin their work at Dar Al Fikr, nor does it apply after they leave the Kingdom on exit-only visa.

G.O.S.I. Benefits   This government benefits scheme has been much reduced in recent years. At the present time, its only relevance to employees at Dar Al Fikr Schools is that it provides medical payments that result from accidents incurred at work.

Travel Allowances

International travel allowances. Dar Al Fikr pays certain relocation expenses for each instructor, his or her spouse, and up to three accompanying dependent children. The relocation allowance covers certain costs associated with moving to Jiddah at the beginning of one’s employment by the school, and returning to one’s home of record at the end of employment.

The relocation allowance covers roundtrip international air fares between Jiddah and one’s foreign port of embarkation, and essential domestic airfares between the instructor’s home of record and port of embarkation when those two are different.

The relocation allowance does not cover the cost of domestic ground transportation between one’s foreign home of record and one’s port of embarkation, or excess baggage or freight charges for transporting items in excess of airlines’ normal baggage allowances.

Dar Al Fikr makes all travel arrangements and provides tickets for travel to Jiddah at the beginning of one’s contract.

In addition to the relocation allowance, Dar Al Fikr pays for roundtrip economy class airfare for instructors and their accompanying dependants between Jiddah and the instructor’s home for summer vacations when instructors renew their contracts for an additional year.

At the end of un-renewed contracts, the school provides one-way economy class airfare for instructors and their accompanying dependants to the instructor’s home of record.

When a contract is terminated prematurely by the school, Dar Al Fikr provides one-way economy class airfare for instructors and their accompanying dependants to the instructor’s home of record. When a contract is terminated prematurely by a foreign employee, and the employee fails to give 30 days notice, the employee is required to provide his/her own airfare to leave the Kingdom.

When a foreign employee departs from Saudi Arabia by land (e.g., drives his car to Jordan or Syria) at the end of his contract, he receives one-half the amount of the airfare that he would have received had he flown from Jiddah to his home of record.

Domestic travel allowance. Dar Al Fikr provides a transportation allowance to pay for daily travel between home and work and all other necessary transportation expenses within the city of Jiddah. All instructors receive the same allowance of SR600 per month; if both husband and wife work at Dar Al Fikr, each receives a domestic travel allowance of SR600 per month. This travel allowance is included with each month’s pay.

Housing allowance

Unmarried non-Moslem female instructors are required to live in villas at Sharbatly Village, a Western housing compound about 15 km from the school. The school pays for rent only.

All other instructors receive housing allowances and are responsible for making arrangements for their own housing. The standard housing allowance for all instructors who receive them is 3 times one’s monthly salary. That formula is used regardless of marital status or number of co-residing dependants.  

If both husband and wife are employed by Dar Al Fikr, the couple receives only one housing allowance equal to 3 times the husband’s salary.

The housing allowance is paid in two installments, the first with the first month’s pay, the second with the seventh month’s pay.

In addition to the housing allowance, each new instructor receives a one-time-only furniture allowance equal to one-half of one month’s salary. This allowance is paid with the first month’s pay. If an employee leaves at the end of the first year, half of the furniture allowance must be refunded to the school.

Miscellaneous Benefits

Dar Al Fikr normally serves all students and employees a light breakfast and a substantial lunch Saturday through Wednesday. This meal schedule is subject to modification during the first week of each term, examination weeks, and the month of Ramadan.

A nursery is located in the Girls School and another in the Kindergarten to care for the infant children of female instructors who work in those schools. This service, which is provided at no charge to employees, is available during normal duty hours throughout the academic year.

Faculty members whose children qualify for admission to Dar Al Fikr are permitted to enroll them for SR2000 per academic year for all grades. This rate is far lower than that charged at any other private school in Jiddah.

Dar Al Fikr does not support Arabic language tutoring for non-Arabic speaking instructors.



Men      During the regular school week, Saturday through Wednesday, male instructors wear white clothes that may be in any of several conservative but casual styles that are appropriate to the country of origin of the instructors. In other words, Saudi men wear informal thobes, Western men wear lightweight white slacks and sport shirts, and so on.

On Thursday mornings, and when off duty, white clothing is not required, and almost any conservative casual attire is acceptable. Shorts are prohibited at all times in all public settings except within Western housing compounds.

Because of the marble and parquette flooring used throughout the buildings, instructors at school are required to wear white rubber soled shoes such as athletic shoes that will neither slip on the floors nor scuff their surfaces.

Women     During the entire school week, Saturday through Thursday, female instructors at work wear lightweight colorful clothes in casual styles that are appropriate to the countries of origin of the instructors. However, certain restrictions imposed by Moslem codes of modesty must be followed: low and/or open collars are prohibited, sleeves should reach to or near the wrist, and skirts should reach within three inches of the floor.

Upon arriving at the school in the morning and departing in the afternoon, and at all other times in all public settings where men might be present (except in Western housing compounds), each woman must wear an abayah, a thin black outer garment that completely covers the colorful and casual dress that is worn for teaching. Furthermore, whenever an abayah is required, all women must cover their hair, and all Moslem women must cover their entire heads, with a thin black scarf or veil. A small wardrobe of these items can be acquired cheaply and easily in Jiddah upon arrival, and whoever meets you at the airport will bring a set for you to wear until you can buy some for yourself.   Casual shoes or sandals with non­skid and non-scuff soles are required in the school.



Vacations     Instructors receive three paid vaca­tions per year:

Time between the end of the 45-day summer vacation and the beginning of the following year’s contract is unpaid vacation.

Sick leave     Instructors do not accumulate sick leave days to be used at their discretion as is common in the US. Rather, they are entitled to take sick leave whenever they need it so long as the need is legitimate and is substantiated by proper medical documentation. Instructors receive full pay for up to 30 days of approved medical absences per year, 75% pay for 30 to 90 days, and no pay for medical absences in excess of 90 days.

Medical absences ordinarily are of three kinds:

According to Saudi Arabian govern­ment regulations, an instructor must obtain documentation from the school and the attending physician in order for the school to treat an absence as an approved medical absence. The required documentation includes the sponsor’s prior authorization of medical care except in cases of emergency, the physician’s certification of care provided, and the physician’s certification of any additional time away from school for recovery or additional visits to the hospital or clinic if needed. If an instructor misses work and claims that he or she was absent due to illness but produces no substantiating documentation, the absence may - but need not necessarily - be treated as authorized.

Maternity leave.     Women are entitled to 45 days of maternity leave beginning with the day of delivery. If they have been employed by the school for at least one year when the maternity leave begins, they receive full pay for the entire 45 days; otherwise they receive the maternity leave without pay. If they remain away from work for more than 45 days, they receive no pay after the 45 day leave period expires.

Family emergencies.     When an instructor must miss work because of local family needs that cannot be met by someone else, the administration prefers to approve those absences in advance, but will consider explanations after the fact in case of emergencies. If an instructor needs to take a leave of absence from the Kingdom because of a family emergency in his or her home country, the school must be properly notified in advance so that the school can obtain the necessary exit and re-entry visas for the instructor. Proper notification necessarily includes documentation from an independent third party that substantiates the instructor’s request for a leave of absence.

Leaving and returning to the campus during normal duty hours.     Due to the school’s strict security arrangements, all instructors must have signed gate passes in order to leave and re-enter the campus during normal school hours. These passes can be obtained as needed from administrators authorized to issue them, and must be turned in at the gate upon leaving the campus.

Absent on school business.     When instructors are absent from the school on school business (attending conferences or meetings, conducting fieldtrips with students, etc.), such absences are authorized by the school, and ordinary expenses associated with such events are covered by the school.

Unauthorized absences.     Instructors are expected to use the school’s time-clock upon arriving at and departing from the school each day. These records are not used directly in computing pay, but are kept for reference in dealing with systematic tardiness, unauthorized absences and similar problems that occur from time to time. When unauthorized absences occur, the instructor’s pay must be docked accordingly.

In accordance with Saudi Arabian labor law, one’s contract can be terminated prematurely by the school if one accumulates more than 20 days of intermittent unauthorized absences in a single academic year, or 10 consecutive days of unauthorized absences.



Inside the Kingdom

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is divided into provinces. Public travel within provinces is generally unrestricted, but travel across provincial boundaries is controlled by the government. In order for foreign nationals to travel outside the province in which they are employed, they must have written permission and appropriate travel documents provided by their employers. Dar Al Fikr instructors can obtaining this permission simply by requesting it, but should submit their requests a week in advance of their proposed travel to allow adequate time for preparation of the required documents.

The coast of the Red Sea is a boundary. Anyone planning to go for a boat ride on the Red Sea must have their sponsor’s written approval.

The following special restrictions apply to domestic travel by women:

To prove that she is traveling with her husband, a woman must always carry a copy of an Arabic language translation of her marriage license.

Outside the Kingdom

During the period of their contracts, instructors at Dar Al Fikr may travel outside the Kingdom only during their three regularly scheduled vacations, and in cases of emergency. Requests for permission to travel outside the Kingdom at other times will not be entertained.

Foreign employees in Saudi Arabia may not visit Israel and Eastern Bloc Communist Countries.

In order to leave Saudi Arabia, a foreign national must have an exit visa stamped in his or her passport. If the person intends to return to Saudi Arabia, he or she also must have a re­entry visa stamped in his or her passport before leaving the country. Since one’s passport is held by one’s employer, the employer is responsible for obtaining exit and re-entry visas and delivering the stamped passport to the employee. It is prudent to request exit and re-entry visas at least a month in advance of the proposed travel date.

Under some circumstances the government of Saudi Arabia can issue a multiple exit/re-entry visa which permits a person to travel into and out of the country with only minor restrictions. Dar Al Fikr employees are not eligible for these visas. You cannot receive more than one exit/re-entry visa at a time and you must apply separately for each visa.

Exit visas and re-entry visas cost SR100 each.

Before traveling outside of the Kingdom during midyear and Ramadan vacations, the Saudi Arabian government requires each instructor to leave one month’s salary with the school as a bond to guarantee the instructor’s return at the end of the vacation, or to give the school a signed statement from a friend who will remain in Saudi Arabia guaranteeing repayment of one month’s salary if the instructor fails to return at end of the vacation.


Faculty Job Descriptions


The academic year is divided into two terms, Term 1 lasting from mid-September to mid-January, Term 2 from early February to mid-June. A two-week vacation occurs between Terms 1 and 2, and a slightly longer vacation occurs at the end of the Hegira month of Ramadan, currently corre­sponding to early April. Much of the last month of each term is devoted to preparing and administering examina­tions.

The maximum teaching load is 24 classes per week; there is no minimum load. Depending upon one’s class assignments, the load can require anywhere from 3 to 12 course preparations per term.

Normal duty hours are 0700 - 1600 Saturday through Wednesday, and 0900 - 1300 Thursday, a total of 49 hours per week.

The ordinary daily schedule appears in the school Catalog. There is a 5-minute break between morning classes, a 20-minute breakfast break in mid­morning, a 20-minute prayer period from 1240 to 1300, and a 45-minute lunch period at some point between 1130 and 1430.   The ordinary schedule is modified during examination periods and the first half of the month of Ramadan. In both cases, the teaching schedule may be compressed so that classes that usually run for 45 minutes are rescheduled for 40 minutes or less, and supplementary courses that lie outside the required government curriculum may be cancelled.

The Kindergarten has one substitute teacher, but the Girls School and the Boys School do not maintain rosters of substitute teachers, nor do they have floating teachers to cover classes when a teacher is absent. Rather, when a teacher is absent, one of his or her colleagues in the same department is required to serve as substitute. When someone substitutes for an absent teacher, the person who was absent is then required to perform reciprocal substitute teaching duties to keep the scales balanced. This policy helps to reduce absenteeism.

Classroom Performance

Requirements concerning classroom duties, lesson planning, etc., vary among departments, but conform to most standard American, British or international school practices.

Faculty training

Ordinarily at the beginning of each year, Dar Al Fikr provides a week of in-service training and orientation for new and returning Arabic-speaking teachers. The school neither requires nor provides other in-service training or continuing education.


School Organization

The following is an outline of the organization of Dar Al Fikr Schools. It is offered here as part of an introduction to the school and is not intended to serve as a directory of positions or personnel.

Dar Al Fikr School was conceived and created by Sheikh Hisham Ahmed Alireza. The two Boards advise and assist Sheikh Hisham in matters of policy, funding, community relations and so on.    The roles of Headmaster and Director of Academic Affairs are performed by Sheikh Hisham. The Director of Administration and Finance and the various Principals report directly to Sheikh Hisham. There are no department chairmen except in a few special cases: rather, teachers report directly to the Principals or, in some cases, directly to Sheikh Hisham.

Board of Trustees

Board of Directors

Central Administration


Girls School

Boys School

Living in Jiddah

Jiddah is a unique city whose uniqueness is neither accidental nor temporary. It represents a remarkable synthesis of history, religion, oil wealth, Western technology and ex­traordinarily astute political leadership, a synthesis that does not exist anywhere else on earth. It reflects government policies that have been implemented deliberately, carefully and successfully to emphasize Jiddah’s uniqueness as the gateway to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

This section of the Faculty Handbook is offered as a way of introducing life in Jiddah to those who are considering moving to the city. We hope it will be useful to you.

Map of Jiddah

Use the map of Jiddah, with numbered points of interest, as you read the following descriptions (the source of this map is unknown).



A brief introduction to the history and culture of Jiddah appears at the beginning of the Dar Al Fikr Catalog and is not repeated here.


Reading List

Perhaps the best way to prepare for employment in Saudi Arabia is to read about the country. The following very brief list is intended to get you started. The bibliographies contained in the listed items are intended to keep you going. Books that are critical of Saudi Arabia or Islam must not be brought into the Kingdom.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., is widely available at libraries around the world. Its articles are of uniformly high quality and are accompanied by extensive bibliographies. Remember that the Britannica comes in several parts including the Propaedia, an Index, the Micropaedia for short sketches, the Macropaedia for more than you ever wanted to know about most things, and Annual Supplements for the latest news.

Nonfiction books. The following are basic, and all contain excellent bibliographies:

Serials     In all cases, see indices for relevant articles:




Generally speaking, expatriates cannot buy houses in Jiddah but must rent.

Ordinarily, you must pay your entire year’s rent at the time you sign your lease. Since you will receive only half of your housing allowance at the beginning of the year, you would do well to bring some extra money to cover start-up costs. You will recover the money when you receive the second half of your housing allowance after the mid-year vacation.

Housing in Jiddah comes in the following major varieties that are relevant to Dar Al Fikr instructors:

If you are a single non-Moslem female, you will move directly into a furnished apartment provided by the school at Sharbatly Village, a Western compound a few kilometers from the school.

If you are a single male or a married couple, the school pays for your room at a hotel for your first three days in Jiddah. At the end of three days, you become responsible for your own housing. You may move elsewhere, remain at the hotel for a few more days at the standard hotel rate if you still haven’t found another place, or remain at the hotel on a monthly rental basis which is significantly cheaper than the standard hotel rate. In the past, several single men have lived at a hotel for the entire academic year.

If you are a Western expatriate and move out of the hotel, you probably will want to move into a Western compound. The school recommends Sharbatly Village compound which cur­rently allows Dar Al Fikr employees to sign 9-month leases rather than full-year leases during their first year in Jiddah. The cost of domestic tele­phone service, water and sewerage is added into the lease. The electricity bill is paid monthly, and varies from SR75 to SR200 per month depending on the size of the villa and seasonal air condi­tioning requirements.

Sharbatly Village is a fully enclosed (walled) area of perhaps fifty acres containing approximately 700 apartments (villas), all at ground level, each enclosed by its own eight-foot privacy wall. The compound contains two swimming pools and recreation areas including tennis courts and poolside restaurants, a supermarket, a service station, a medical clinic, a preschool, and various additional amenities that make it a small Western town within the city of Jiddah.

Western villas can be rented either furnished or unfurnished. If you stay in Jiddah for less than two years, you would do well to rent a furnished apartment; if you stay longer than two years, it would be more economical to buy your furniture and re-sell it upon departing.   Your housing allowance from Dar Al Fikr will cover the cost of housing at Sharbatly Village.

If you are a Moslem or other Middle Eastern teacher, you probably will want to move into an apartment building in the city. These may be furnished or unfurnished, and their rents and conditions vary enormously.

When you arrive, your colleagues at the school will assist you in finding suitable accommodations.



Public busses are available at reasonable fares. Men ride in the front, women in the back. A woman who teaches at Dar Al Fikr should not ride in a bus unless accompanied by a man.

Taxis and limousines are readily available, reasonably priced, and generally reliable. Calling them can be difficult unless you speak Arabic; finding one at a hotel or compound is easy and safe; flagging one on the move is easy. Pre-arranged regular taxi pickup and delivery is the standard way for people without cars to travel between home and work. Your Dar Al Fikr monthly travel allowance easily covers the cost of a shared taxi daily between the school and Sharbatly Village. Taxis come in two major varieties: white and yellow. Use the white ones.

It is easy to rent a car in Jiddah, but by no means inexpensive. To rent a car, you must have a Saudi Arabian drivers license or an international license issued in an approved country (European and North American countries are approved).   Generally speaking this is not a financially viable long term option for Dar Al Fikr employees, though it may be used temporarily.

Obtaining a Saudi drivers license and buying and registering a car are financially viable options, and most men who teach at Dar Al Fikr drive their own cars to work. Since procedural details change, you can get the latest rules after you arrive in Jiddah.

If you buy a car, you can obtain auto insurance. However, the concept of insurance is not the same in Saudi Arabia and the Moslem world in general as it is in the West. Since insurance of any kind may be looked upon with antipathy by many people in Saudi Arabia, it may not be as valuable as you would like for it to be. Automobile liability and collision insurance can be obtained inexpensively and easily in Jiddah, but it may not be recognized elsewhere in the Kingdom, and it may not be available for rental cars.

Auto maintenance is readily avail­able throughout the city and at the Sharbatly Village compound. The quality is generally good at the com­pound and at automobile dealer-ships.


Health Care

Before coming to Saudi Arabia, one should bring routine immunizations up to date by having the following vaccinations:

The following are optional:

The US Centers for Disease Control currently (1989) say that residents of Jiddah need not be worried about malaria, but that malaria is a problem in much of the Kingdom outside Jiddah. CDC recommends a weekly regimen of chloroquine for visitors to areas of risk if you plan to leave Jiddah. Chloroquine tablets are readily avail­able and very inexpensive at most pharmacies in the city.

Travelers arriving in Jiddah from countries infected with yellow fever are required to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Before coming to Saudi Arabia, you must have an AIDS test that yields a negative result. You may be retested after you arrive in the Kingdom.   If you test positive upon arriving in the Kingdom, you will be deported immediately at your own expense.

Dar Al Fikr has made arrangements for medical care to be provided to its employees at hospitals most of which are excellent by any standards. These hospitals are located conveniently in various parts of Jiddah. Some cater primarily to Moslem patients, some primarily to Western expatriates. Virtually all Western medical services are available within the city.

Each hospital has its own pharmacy, and a great many additional excellent pharmacies are located in shopping centers throughout the city. Most Western prescription and non­prescription medicines are readily available, and many drugs requiring prescriptions in the West are available in Jiddah without prescriptions. Drugs containing alcohol and narcotics are not available and in fact are illegal inside the Kingdom. If you have exceptional medical requirements, you should bring a small supply of medicines and your medical history records with you; otherwise, obtaining medical care and medicines are not problems in Jiddah.

Public ambulance services are not available and private ambulance services are not likely to be staffed by English-speaking telephone operators. In case of life threatening emergencies, use the most accessible and safest form of transport to get to the nearest medical facility.

Good dental and optical services are available conveniently and at reasonable prices.



Jiddah has a great many fine private Moslem and International schools in addition to the public school system. The following are recommended. Call and ask to speak with the Headmaster or Principal.


Moslem Schools


Dar Al Fikr                  680-0005
Bakr                             665-1584
Children’s World        660-4431
Kinder House             671-4431
My Little House           660-4872


Dar Al Fikr                  680-0004
Dar al Hanan              637-7729
Al Ferdous                  682-8891
Jeddah Private           665-7838
Manarat                       671-9732
Naseefiyah                  671-4926
Dar Al Tarbeyah         665-8247


Dar Al Fikr                  680-0005
Al Faysaliyah              653-5107
Jeddah Private           682-3667
Manarat                       671-9732


International Schools

Continental School: Est. 1977, British system, accepts 4-yrs thru Grade 11 on space available basis only. Term 1 Sep-Dec, Term 2 Jan-Mar, Term 3 Apr-July; phone 683-2945.

Jeddah Prep: British curriculum in English; accepts non-British nationals; grades K-9; in session mid-Sep thru mid-June; 500 students, 37 teachers; phone 691-3442.

Saudi Arabian International Schools (SAIS): operated by Saudia Airlines, with Raytheon, other US companies, US Consulate, etc.; American curriculum and staff; in session Aug­ust-June (177 days); Winter, Spring and Ramadan breaks; phone 667-4566.

Sharbatly Village Play Group: Montessori; ages 2-7 years;   grades Reception, K1, K2, G1, G2; 125 students, 15 teachers; phone 691-0828.


Consumer Goods

Virtually all international consumer goods are readily available, and because of the enormous diversity of nationalities living in the city, many specialty items from nations through­out Asia, Africa and Europe are common in Jiddah.

Generally speaking, things that are not available are prohibited under Saudi and Islamic law and you cannot bring them with you from outside the Kingdom. These include illegal drugs, pornography, weapons of any kind, foods, etc. An exhaustive listing of items that cannot be sent to Saudi Arabia can be obtained in Europe and North America from the Saudi Embassy and from Federal Express.

Although Saudi Arabia is rapidly becoming a major manufacturing country, most consumer goods continue to be imported from Europe, Asia and North America, and shipping costs must be paid. As a result, the prices of most consumer goods are slightly higher than they are in their countries of origin.

Shopping in Jiddah typically occurs at Western style shopping centers and Eastern style souqs. Jiddah’s Western style shopping centers are among the largest and finest in the world. Bring a small supply of you favorite shampoo and toothpaste to last until you find the shopping center that stocks those brands.

Likewise, the souqs are outstanding in quality and diversity, and often specialize in traditional Saudi, Middle Eastern, South Asian and African items that are not commonly available in the Western style shopping centers.

The map of Jiddah shows the locations of major shopping areas and landmarks in the city.


International Transfers

Some people report minor problems in sending and receiving letters, packages, cassettes and computer diskettes between Saudi Arabia and foreign destinations but most do not. It usually takes about a week for mail to travel from the main post office in Jiddah to destinations in the United States and about two weeks for similar items to reach you in Jiddah when they have been mailed from outside the Kingdom.

Telephone, fax and telex services are widely available and employ the latest and finest equipment, but costs are high and service remains imperfect.

Local banks transfer funds from Saudi Arabia to most other countries efficiently, effectively and at reasonable rates. To facilitate this service, bring the name of your home bank, your own account number, and any identifying information (routing codes, etc.) that your home bank requires.

Most international magazines and many international newspapers are available locally. Most arrive by air a few days after being printed.

All items arriving in the Kingdom are subject to inspection for violation of Islamic laws.



This section is based on comments in a handbook prepared by the American Ladies of Jeddah in September 1989, with several important additions.

Great caution should be used when engaging in photography. The photographer should be male, and if people are to be included in the picture their permission should be positively and clearly gained before taking the picture. Photographing women is an extremely sensitive subject, and should never be done in public settings.

The Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry issued a note in August 1981 saying that foreign nationals might be exposed to punishments or penalties as a result of their violating rules and directives due to their unintentional ignorance. The ministry indicated that the basic rule is complete freedom to photograph places and installations in general, but photos of the following are prohibited:

Photography also is prohibited:

Various kinds of color print film and Ektachome slide film are readily available in Jiddah, and all can be processed locally. Black-and-white print film is not generally available and cannot be processed locally. Kodachrome slide film is available at a few places locally, is relatively expensive, and must be sent to Kodak processing laboratories outside the Kingdom.     Videotapes, video recording equip­ment and virtually all other kinds of electronic equipment are available locally.



Jiddah’s weather is hot and humid in summer with afternoon highs well above 40C or 105F. It is much cooler and less humid in winter, with afternoon highs in the 20C or 70F range. Rain is rare, and more likely in winter than in summer.

Dar Al Fikr School, hotels, most businesses and Western compounds are fully air-conditioned. So long as you do not venture unprepared into the desert in the summer, the weather in Jiddah is delightful except during midsummer when it gets quite hot.

Temperature extremes are greater inland than they are in coastal areas. For example, Riyadh is much hotter in the summer and somewhat colder in the winter than is Jiddah. Also, the higher elevations around Taif and in the Asir Mountains of southwestern Saudi Arabia are much cooler than the central deserts or the coastal plains. Sweaters and jackets are important for winter travel in non-coastal areas.

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