Russia to teach Arabic culture in schools

Arabic added to curriculum as natives see prospects


Russia's Ministry of Education has added Arabic language and culture to next year's school curriculum in an unprecedented move welcomed by families who said they look forward to introducing their children to Arab culture.

The move was a response to requests by Arabs in Russia and although learning Arabic was previously linked to people interested in Islam, the second largest religion in the country, it is now being seen as a move that is likely to create several job prospects.

Native Russians welcomed the initiative and expressed their admiration for Arab culture.

“The number of orientalists is very limited and I want to be one,” said Sasha, explaining the reason for his keenness to learn Arabic.

His colleague Vadim said his admiration for Arab culture encouraged him to learn the language.

“I want to be able to speak to the Arab people when I get the chance to visit the Arab world,” he told Al Arabiya.

According to the new government resolution Arabic classes will be introduced as early as elementary school, said Sieda Golinian, headmistress of a school in southern Moscow.

“The majority of our students are either Russian or from other ethnicities that are not Arab,” she told Al Arabiya. “They want to learn Arabic to work as translators or in other financial, political and cultural fields.”

In addition to offering job opportunities, including Arabic in Russian schools will also be of great help to mixed Russian-Arab families, said Selim al-Ali, member of the Council for Arab Expatriates.

“Teaching Arabic in schools will solve many problems faced by children of mixed marriages as they will be able to get in touch with the culture that constitutes half their heritages,” he told Al Arabiya.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

The majority of our students are either Russian or from other ethnicities that are not Arab

School headmistress