Learning the host language of a land you have come to helps your integration into that community. Learning Arabic can be quite a challenge to people coming to the Middle East, especially the Gulf. There are various challenges and this article describes my Jeddah experience with this:
The number of institutes in Jeddah teaching Arabic virtually border on zero. The one institute that exists is the Berlitz school of language which has various branches. One such branch exists on Rawdah Street on the corniche side of Madeenah road. The last time I enquired the cost of one-to-one tuition per month which was 60 hours of tuition was 10,000 SAR (Saudi Riyals). Unless you are earning a significant salary this is beyond the reach of most people who work in Saudi Arabia, including many western expats. The costs can be reduced by organising a group of learners though they had a minimum number of students.
Another source of language learning centres is the Saudi Telecoms Yellow Pages and search for language schools. These are mainly schools teaching English, but they will have a list of tutors who can probably quite easily teach the reverse.
Another option is the Jeddah Dawah Center. I have been told that they offer free lessons, which are geared to non-Arabic speaking converts to Islam. The group is an officially sanctioned group and posters advertising dawah lectures all over Jeddah in many languages can be seen on a regular basis. Sadly, as with many institutions in Saudi Arabia, telephone contact or useful information on the website advertising these services is poor. I have tried to contact them at various times and never managed to get through. There is nothing quite like a personal visit to the office to get an idea as to what is going on. A map and contact telephone numbers are available here.
The King Abdulaziz University used to offer evening courses for non-Arabic speakers though their website is not forthcoming with details. It is not conveniently situated but is an option as the lessons are held in the evening. A ladies college called Effat college may offer a lead but the website does not advertise any Arabic lessons. Another college called Dar Al-Hikmah lists an Arabic course, though this may be taught in Arabic and be geared towards native Arabic speakers.
The other option is to hire a tutor of Arabic who will come to your home. These tutors usually self advertise with posters all over the place. The posters are usually stuck to whatever is possible in and around masjids. They are written in Arabic (مدرس اللغة) and will have a telephone number. The tutors are mainly non-Saudi Arabs, usually from Egypt or Sudan, who advertise their services. Their primary market is Arab children studying in school. This may sound puzzling after all ‘why would Arab’s need tuition in Arabic?’ – the story is rather long but in short they do as a result of the lack of formal Arabic spoken on the street and the generally poor standards in many government schools when it comes to teaching Arabic.
The other problem with the tutor is they may not be willing to teach females unless they themselves are female. Here it would be a good idea to tap into the pavement network and ask friends or even the person advertising at the masjid. The cost of 60 hours of tuition is significantly less and is around the 1600 SAR mark. This is the option that we have found to be most useful for us. Friends of ours have used the tutor, who speaks virtually no English, to help teach their children. The arrangement has been on the whole successful. The added advantage is that the tutors usually are well versed in the Quran and help children read and memorise the Quran.
Tutors are widely available in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madeenah, but you will need to find a contact who can lead you to them. This is not that difficult and you can start by tracing back from the adverts around masjids or ask for any acquaintances or friends of friends studying at the various Islamic universities or colleges.
The other option to locate tutors who have experience teaching English speakers is to contact the various International Schools. It is a Ministry of Education requirement that Arabic be taught in all schools for foreign nationals, known as International Schools. The standard of Arabic taught is not very high and the schools have provided teachers and lessons to fulfill the Ministry’s requirements rather than taking a genuine interest in teaching Arabic as a foreign language. Schools that are likely to have an English speaking Arabic tutor are: Jeddah Prep, Manarat, American International School of Jeddah, Thamer School and the British International School. You will probably need to visit the school inorder to meet the Arabic teacher but you can always try phoning and try. These teachers offer evening tuition to anyone. Their rates tend to be quite expensive at 80-100 SAR / hour, but they are open to negotiation depending on the consistency of the lessons. The Arabic tutor at Manarat, a Syrian male teacher, has gained a popular following with parents and is widely regarded as a good teacher especially with children. The link above is to the girls section, you should be able to get the boys section from there.
Finally there are the well known options of learning via the internet which I have not covered here. From the experience of expats in general here, even those who are quite well motivated usually for Islamic reasons they tend to find it very difficult to learn Arabic. The work life routine in Saudi Arabia is quite energy sapping and usually, as probably in most places in the world, learning an extra language outside work and family hours will prove to be an insurmountable task for many. If you have found a job in the Gulf, take a crash course or at least 6 months in a country like Egypt or Syria and learn Arabic before you come, you will be able to gain much more by doing this.