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What materials should you pack when you move to teach in Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi UAE Flag
Abu Dhabi UAE flag
Abu Dhabi UAE flag (Photo credit: osamayy)

I am sure that many of you are getting ready to come over and one of the major questions (after, did I make the right decision?) is what resources should I bring? What will be appropriate?

First  and foremost, don't doubt yourself. Just stay the course.

Here is the professional teaching standard relating to curriculum and in classroom practice.

Standard 9 – Local Culture:
Educators will understand and respect UAE culture and Islamic values

Professional Conduct, including but not limited to:

  • Educators will respect Islamic values and practices in the classroom or workplace.
  • Educators will comply with all rules and customs deemed by an Islamic state.
  • Educators will respect UAE customs and traditions in schools or workplace.
This is a photo of a souk in Deira, Dubai, Uni...
This is a photo of a souk in Deira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 9 May 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prohibited Unprofessional Conduct, including but not limited to:

    • Knowingly behaving in a manner that is contrary to Islamic values in the classroom or workplace.
    • Knowingly exhibiting disrespect for UAE culture and customs in the classroom or workplace.


But of course, you want to know, WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!

Below is a list of things to keep you sane and to check your resources against. This list doesn't cover everything. When in doubt, ask your principal! and if you REALLY aren't sure don't do it! If you are packing materials to bring, go on the more conservative side and you'll be fine.

Materials/Books that you should avoid to bring to the UAE


Prophet(s) – except in Arabic and Islamic books

The three UAE islands




Human evolution


Religions other than Islam

Magic and magicians

Sleepovers‐boys and girls together

Topics against Islam (e.g. terrorism, bombing, ...etc)

Sex or sexual relationships

Your kids may bring things to you that are on this list, as with any new school, in your first few weeks, feel out what is appropriate, what has been done, what the school finds appropriate. A great stop to make once you get settled is to any book st

Islam (Photo credit: rogiro)

 Avoid bringing these to the UAE


A globe or map with a reference a Persian Gulf or Israel

A globe with the label Israel instead of Palestine


6 point star

Christmases/ Christmases tree/ Santa


Replace these items with:

A globe or map that has reference to the Arabian Gulf or Palestine.

If alternatives are unavailable the term ‘Persian’ or ‘Israel’ must be Erased or covered in a permanent fashion.

You will learn a lot about the culture of your school in the first few weeks. Even more about the teachers in it. I would highly recommend not bringing any of these with you, if you are intending bringing materials and just purchasing them while here if you so choose. You will hear holiday music, see Santas in the malls and other things that might boggle the mind, but it is important to establish relationships and know what the expectations are.

WCIT 2012 - United Arab Emirates
WCIT 2012 - United Arab Emirates (Photo credit: itupictures)

Avoid discussing non Islamic holidays or any reference to them as students won’t be able to relate to them. Instead discuss holidays and celebration that your students are familiar with.

Avoid taking about the following holidays:





Thanks giving

Easter eggs

Christmases/ Christmases tree/ Santa


Replace these holidays with: 




National day (2nd of December)


National Day is HUGE and you will have plenty of time to work with it and on it. Your school will begin to prepare celebrations and other things and other teachers might want to help you plan lessons and gather resources

English: Jebel Hafeet mountain in Al Ain, Unit...
English: Jebel Hafeet mountain in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some animals are not appropriate in the UAE religion/culture.

Avoid talking about the following animals:


Pig (all references to pigs)




Replace with





Rabbits or any other animal


*Dogs are not taboo, but they don't keep them as pets and so shouldn't be encouraged to have them as such. 

On the subject of fantasy creatures, unreal creatures are innappropiate to discuss with children. Try to use real characters as much as possible. Remember that some of these unreal creatures could frighten some children.


Avoid the following creatures




Supernatural beings such as devils, demons, witches

Replace with




Famous appropriate cartoon characters.


This list was compiled by ADEC, and it is on the extreme end. My kids like robots, and have read books where aliens are regular characters. They also watch movies and things where monsters and aliens are characters. The question truly becomes with your support, what is appropriate and how can you best do it.


UAE Dance
UAE Dance (Photo credit: leeno)

Some food and beverage are not acceptable in the Islam religion. Therefore, please avoid having any discussions with the students about them. The below items are not acceptable due to health related reasons. 


Avoid the following foods & beverages

Ham (Pork) products

    Alcohol, wine(any reference to alcohol products should be avoided

Replace with

Vegetables, fruits , cereal ..etc   

    Juices, milk, laban...etc


On advertisements and things, they don't say beer or wine. You will see a lot of house beverages, hops and barleys.These are alcoholic beverages. You will also see kids at some point drink Barbaken, which is nonalcoholic beer. My social worker explained to us that while it isn't healthy, there isn't such a voracious hatred against it because everything is nonalcoholic in the stores. It's like they're drinking a thick Mountain Dew.



The Prophet Mohamed’s (PBUH) name on living nonliving items. *

Swear words


Heaven and hell

Life after death




Noah’s ark

Sexual phrases


Celebrations other that Islamic ones

Supernatural powers

Magic and magicians


Sleepovers‐boys and girls together


It is highly recommended that you consult with the Islamic studies teacher regarding the topics above.


* Mohamed is the name of our prophet peace been upon him. He is a very sacred person. Muslims respect and value him very much. Therefore, having his name placed on nonliving items or animals is very offensive and unacceptable.

Supernatural powers are VERY touchy, because the kids know superheroes. Of all on this list the big one to remember is DO NOT DRAW THE NAME OF THE PROPHET, DO NOT NAME INANIMATE OBJECTS OR ANIMALS AFTER HIM, AT ALL, EVER. You will have many students named Muhammed and might think it is cute to do so, but it is highly unacceptable.

English: Muslims looking for the new moon to m...
English: Muslims looking for the new moon to mark the Eid al fitr, the end of the month of Ramadhan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)