UAE aims to promote Francophone culture, says UAE’s first Ambassador to OIF

Emirates keen on promoting French language as a tool to enhance cultural and linguistic diversity, says Salem Al Neyadi


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Tue 29 Nov 2022, 10:54 PM

Last updated: Thu 1 Dec 2022, 8:44 AM

Salem Al Neyadi became the first UAE Ambassador to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). With more than 300,000 Francophones, or French-speaking people in the UAE, Al Neyadi said the UAE is adamant to strengthen its relations with French-speaking nations and their communities both domestically and abroad.

“My appointment as the first UAE Ambassador to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie reflects my country's desire to strengthen its relations with the Francophone world by supporting the organisation's priorities, such as education, cultural and linguistic diversity, economic cooperation, and peacebuilding,” Al Neyadi told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview.

The OIF, also known as the Francophonie, was founded in 1970 and aims to promote the French language as well as political, educational, economic and cultural cooperation among its 88 member countries. There are 29 nations outside France with French as the official language, including Belgium, Canada, Seychelles, Cameroon, Djibouti, Monaco, Senegal and Switzerland.

“The UAE believes in the importance of open exchange with other countries by building bridges across cultures in celebration of cultural and linguistic diversity, as well as the values of tolerance and coexistence.

“As home to more than 200 nationalities living in harmony, the UAE recognises that engagement with the broader Francophone community offers an opportunity to strengthen multilateralism and bolster relations with Francophone countries,” Al Neyadi pointed out.

The UAE, added Al Neyadi, is committed to working closely with all 88 member states and governments through the OIF’s framework. “Moreover, the UAE is also continuously working to strengthen bilateral relations with individual member states, such as France, in the cultural, economic, and educational fields.”

Today, there are more than 274 million French speakers around the world according to the Francophonie, and as the popularity of the language continues to grow, the UAE was one of the first countries in the region to incorporate the French language into its government school curriculum. In 2018, the UAE and France signed a Memorandum of Understanding to teach the French language in public schools as a third language.

“This government decision came in line with the UAE's aim to promote Francophone culture and the French language nationally as a tool to enhance cultural and linguistic diversity,” noted Al Neyadi.

“The French language is taught in more than 30 public and 10 private schools to 15,000 students annually, and there are plans to increase this number in the coming period,” he added.


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