The Centre for Excellence in Arabic at Al Futtaim Education Foundation hosted its first annual conference under the banner: Re-igniting the Passion and Education Futures, on 9th and 10th November at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dubai Festival City.
The Conference, aimed at Arabic teachers within Dubai and beyond, brought together educators, musicians, calligraphers, teachers, students, renowned poets, intellectuals and Arabic language enthusiasts in an event dedicated to celebrating the passion for Arabic, with all its art forms. The official opening ceremony held under the patronage of Mr Omar Al Futtaim, Vice Chairman of Al Futtaim Group and Chairman of Al Futtaim Education Foundation Board, was attended by their excellencies Hussain Lootah, Mohammed Al Murr and Abdullah Al Tarifi, and focused on presenting Arabic as a language of thought, of literature, of the workplace, of science and of life.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Fadi Hammadeh, Al Futtaim Education Foundation Board Member, said: “Al Futtaim Education Foundation is an initiative launched by Al-Futtaim Group to support our students, teachers and the community. The Foundation, which operates on a not-for-profit basis, works on spreading the values of tolerant education, on preparing students for the future and on pursuing excellence in all its endeavours.” Mr Hammadeh added: “The Centre for Excellence in Arabic has at the very core of its objectives updating and enhancing Arabic education within our schools through relevant, modern and engaging content in addition to training and supporting outstanding and passionate teachers.”
Highlighting the need for action that stems from an accurate reading of the international school educational scene in the UAE, Mrs Mira Al Futtaim, Member of Al Futtaim Education Board, noted that students needed the time and the space to enhance and improve their Arabic language skills, particularly in relation to speaking Arabic fluently and confidently. Mrs Al Futtaim asserted, however, that this was “only a temporary reality, that we would work on changing.”
Re-igniting the Passion Conference also presented student views on Arabic and on what can be done to make it more relatable and in keeping with the age in which we live. “A is for Arabic Action” was the title of a segment presented by students from Deira International School and Universal American School in which students addressed the audience calling upon them to frame Arabic in the here and now. Students expressed their dismay that much of the content in Arabic can be archaic and irrelevant. The poet Farah Chamma, who is a product of the international school system in Dubai, gave an impassioned performance of some of her poems, which were written in the 21st century and for a 21st century audience.