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Jane E. Lyons


There is a significant gap in the literature regarding women's lived experiences and work motivation in Saudi Arabia. In order to address this gap, this qualitative study explored the lived experiences of female expatriates who chose to teach and live in Saudi Arabia for longer than 1 year. Using Moustakas' phenomenological method, a purposive sample of 10 female educators who worked in Saudi Arabian higher education institutions were recruited and interviewed. Although English teachers were not targeted, all of the participants recruited were primarily English teachers (5 North Americans, 5 Europeans). With Deci and Ryan's self-determination theory as the conceptual framework, 12 themes were summarized in terms of motivation elements including autonomy, support, competence, and motivation. Themes related to teaching experiences in Saudi Arabia included job autonomy, job routines, supportive work environments, supportive supervisors, work competence, and work performance. Themes related to motivations to stay in Saudi Arabia included cultural adjustment, spiritual motivations, social connectedness, family life, unforgettable teaching moments, and women’s empowerment. The essence of teaching and living in Saudi Arabian institutions were provided. The results of this study will be used to empower female expatriate educators by increasing awareness about their experiences, offering motivation workshops, and advancing higher education accreditation policies resulting in positive social change. Future research should explore developing higher education standards related to monitoring the effects of student performance and post-Covid19 regulations on expatriate faculty motivation to live in the Middle East.

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