Education experts gather at Zayed University to advance Arabic literacy across Middle East

13 Jun 2023

A highly anticipated conference aimed at promoting literacy in the Arabic language has taken place in Abu Dhabi this week. Organized by Zayed University’s Zai Arabic Language Centre, the event titled: “Learning to Read: A Path to Improving Arabic Literacy in MENA”, saw delegates from world-leading institutions gather to share ideas and their expertise in an effort promote improvements in the teaching of the Arabic language. The two-day conference, held at the Sheikha Fatima Theatre located on the Zayed University Abu Dhabi campus, has garnered significant attention and participation from across the region.

Opening the event, Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of State, and President of Zayed University said, “At Zayed University, we strive to undertake bold initiatives, form partnerships, and cultivate cooperation with stakeholders at the national, regional, and international levels. Our objective is to advance the Arabic language teaching mechanisms and elevate the reading proficiency of our students. We recognize this as a strategic objective and a promising investment in our future.

“The conference has served as a platform for participants to exchange ideas, share best practices, and discuss innovative approaches to promote literacy in the Arabic language. Attendees have had the opportunity to explore the latest research, teaching methodologies, and technological advancements relevant to Arabic language education.”

As a leading institution in the region, the Zai Arabic Language Centre at Zayed University has quickly established itself as playing a prominent role in fostering linguistic excellence and embracing cultural diversity in the Arabic language. Master of Ceremony and Zai Centre Director Dr Hanada Taha Thomure, said, “Promoting literacy across the Arabic speaking world is a national priority for the UAE Government and we at Zayed University are proud to be playing a leading role in this endeavor. It is something of a rarity to bring together such a coalition of committed people and organizations to work together towards this goal. This gathering of stakeholders reflects the great progress we have made at Zai to-date and paves the way for us to continue to successfully collaborate with partners to radically improve the teaching of the Arabic language, while promoting its rich heritage that we treasure so dearly.”

His Excellency Dr. Khalifa Mubarak Al Dhaheri, chancellor of Mohamed Bin Zayed University for Humanities, stressed that education is a top priority for the UAE government, saying: “Since the establishment of the UAE, our founding father the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan emphasized the role of education in the development of nations, as reflected in his statement: ‘The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education'. Equitable education means investing in qualified teachers with pedagogical and educational experience, creating a learning environment that stimulates all students, and offering academic support and access to the necessary technology and other relevant educational resources.”

Praising the collaborative efforts of stakeholders to promote the Arabic language, the Director General of Arab Thought Foundation, Professor Henri Awit, said, “what ATF is doing in terms of promoting Arabic language stems from its deep belief that the Arabic language is an essential component of the unifying Arab identity, as well as our firm conviction of its pivotal role in the renaissance of the Arab world, because it is a living language and the language of life, and it is the language of the past, present, and the future”.

The event included a series of panel discussions and keynote addresses involving representatives from the education ministries of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, as well as international organizations like the World Bank, USAID, UNESCO, Queen Rania Foundation, international universities, authors, and many others. These discussions served as a platform for participants to exchange ideas, share best practices, and discuss innovative approaches to promote literacy in the Arabic language.

Notable sessions included interactive panel discussions on Arabic national literacy strategies, and fostering Arabic through technologies, as well as a presentation on play-based learning for the Arabic language. Participants were inspired by the thought-provoking discussions and practical strategies shared by experts in their respective fields in enhancing learning outcomes. Arabic language enthusiasts in attendance have had the opportunity to establish partnerships that will strengthen efforts to promote Arabic language literacy in the Middle East and further afield.

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