A Saudi-born Chinese woman is doing her bit to keep Arabic alive by teaching Chinese and Arabs to read, speak and write the language.
Born to Chinese-Muslim parents from the southernmost province of Hainan, Ayah Saeed grew up in Saudi Arabia before her family moved to Kuwait where she now works as a teacher.
“I first learned the Arabic language when my parents were teaching us the holy Quran. My love for the language grew over the years and now I teach it to both Arab and Chinese students,” Saeed told Al Arabiya’s morning show.
During the summers, Ayah spends her time in China teaching the language to those interested in the Arab region. She told Al Arabiya that the students abroad are much more attentive in learning the language.
“They have this indescribable passion to learn the language to the extent that they are interested in learning the specifics of pronunciation of each words,” she said.
It is rare to find a foreigner speaking fluent in Arabic, let alone a Chinese woman in Kuwait’s public schools teaching their native language.
“At first, some of my very young female students were shocked to see someone speaking in Arabic and looking like myself,” Ayah told Al Arabiya while speaking flawless Arabic using the Kuwaiti language.
When asked about her accent, Ayah said she was always focused on the usage of the language and not simply the theoretical parts behind it.
“I always put in mind that it is important to practice and use Arabic in any environment I’m in,” she said.
Has there ever been a funny moment when someone thought she could not speak the language? Ayah says there has been plenty but one story remains.
“We were at an airport in China and there was one an Arab family who were having some problems with their travel arrangements. They approached us because they saw us in hijabs. They asked us in broken in English and were shocked into silence when we replied in Arabic,” she recalls.
“But the funny thing was they insisted in talking in English, maybe because they’re not programmed to see an Asian speaking their language so fluently,” she said, laughingly.
This article is also available in Arabic.SHOW MORE