Saudi Arabia has stepped up efforts to promote the use of Arabic language among expatriates in a bid to spread Arab culture. “The plan is to interact with students of different nationalities currently enrolled in various foreign schools of the Kingdom,” said Gumaan S. Alkahtani, general manager of the Riyadh-based Arab Institute for Arabic Language (ARABI), here yesterday.
Alkahtani said, “Knowledge of Arabic language could help foreigners better understand Saudi Arabia and the Arab world as well as the Arab culture.” He was speaking on the sidelines of a function organized here to felicitate and award students of different foreign schools, who participated in an Arabic language competition recently. The competition was organized by ARABI in cooperation with the Ministry of Education.
The prize distribution ceremony was attended by Dr. Abdurrahman M. Al-Barrak, undersecretary at the Ministry of Education; Ministry’s General Director for National and International Education Mohammad Eid Al-Otaibi, ARABI’S General Supervisor Dr. Saleh bin Hamad Al-Suhaibani and ARABI Marketing Manager Taha M. Mahmoud. Several deans of Arabic language institutes affiliated with the Saudi universities were also present.
Several principals of international schools, embassy-run schools and students too attended. An 8th grade Indonesian student of Riyadh Multinational School Mohammad Pasha Hanifa was declared as recipient of a Saudi-funded scholarship for pursuing Arabic studies in the Kingdom. Pasha, who is the son of Mohammed Hanifa, first secretary at the Indonesian Embassy, was felicitated on this occasion for his command over Arabic language.
Alkahtani said, “The initiative to launch this program came from Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, minister of education.”
He thanked the prince for extending help to organize the program and for teaming up with ARABI, which has emerged as a major private Arabic language school in the Middle East.
“Actually, such competitions encourage students of foreign schools to learn and acquire Arabic as a communication tool in the country they are staying in, consequently, having the chance to closely identify with the culture of the Kingdom and its good values, traditions and culture,” said Al-Suhaibani.
On behalf of the foreign schools, Chris Mantz, principal of British International School, Riyadh (BISR), spoke very highly about this initiative. He said, “Arabic was an ancient and beautiful language, and the third most widely spoken in the world.” It is estimated that over 350 million people are native Arabic speakers, in more than 30 countries, he added.
Mahmoud said that the Riyadh-based institute was a pioneer in introducing modern teaching techniques in the Kingdom. He said ARABI, dubbed as “Your gate to cultural communication…” is the brainchild of a group of specialists that approached Sheikh Sulaiman Al-Rajhi Charity Foundation with a proposal in early 2007.
“In 2009, ARABI was set up and started operating to teach Arabic using scientific methodology,” he added. He said Arabic language training program at ARABI consists of several elements that include class work, free communication exercise, social activities, tours, self-learning lessons and collaborative projects. The programs are designed to cater to different age groups and all categories of people including children and adults.

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