Head seeks Welsh army for Emirates

22nd June 2007 at 01:00
IT IS fast becoming the hot destination for the stars with its fake white beaches and gold-plated hotels. But celebrity-rich Dubai, known as the pearl of the Middle East, could become a weekend retreat for fed-up teachers in Wales.

Westley Hughes, acting head of Pontnewynydd primary school in Torfaen, will be flying out to the United Arab Emirates in September after being appointed head of a private school that follows the English national curriculum.

Based in the Emirate city of Ras Al-Khaimah, a 40-minute drive from Dubai, the 600-pupil school prides itself on high standards.

But 47-year-old Mr Hughes's departure comes with a twist - he wants to take an army of teachers with him.

Interviews are being held this weekend to make up his new staff. Perks of the posts include a tax-free salary, free housing and healthcare, says Mr Hughes, a former merchant seaman who claims to have a spirit of adventure.

Selected teachers will initially teach primary-age children. However, under school expansion plans the post will also require secondary teaching.

The school is planning to take on an extra 400 students after construction, mostly for ex-pats, whose numbers are growing.

"I love to travel and experience different cultures," said Mr Hughes. "All I need now are some equally enthusiastic, highly professional teachers to join me."

The official website of the tourism office in Ras Al-Khaimah says the city is one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the Gulf region, with majestic mountains, desert dunes, crystal blue seas and white beaches.

A new range of five-star hotels is already under construction. The city also boasts a forthcoming $265 million (pound;32.5m) space port, announced last year, which is being developed for space tourism.

Mr Hughes, who lives in Newport, has also taught in Australia and Uganda.

But he has been settled in headship positions within Torfaen for the past 11 years.

One year's experience is required along with qualified teaching status to be considered for interview. A list of potential candidates is also being drawn up by Cardiff-based teacher recruitment agency New Directions, which stepped in to help.

To apply, contact Sian Symons on 029 20 390 133 today.

Ras Al-Khaimah

Translated into English, the city is called Top of the Tent.

It borders Oman in the northern part of the UAE.

The emirate has a population of about 250,000.

It is ruled by Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammand al-Qassimi.

It has good links to other emirates, such as Dubai, via taxi that is the main form of transport.

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