As the birthplace of Islam and home to the largest petroleum reserves in the world, Saudi Arabia is one of the richest and most powerful nations in the Middle East. Yet despite being more accessible to the wider world within recent years and the role prominent role it plays in the world economy, the country continues to exist only in the realms of the imagination for most people. Home to “The Empty Quarter” an expanse of sand the size of France or Texas, as well as unspoiled coral reefs, Saudi Arabia also contains the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina, to which all able Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage at least once if possible.
Salaries and benefits can be excellent, but teachers must be prepared to live in society governed by very conservative Islamic law and customs. In Saudi Arabia the use of alcohol is banned, as are movie theaters. Most public institutions (including schools) are segregated by sex.