His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, during a meeting with Jean-Yves Le Drian. Image Credit: Courtesy: Twitter

Abu Dhabi: A pilot phase programme will see several public schools teaching French as part of a broader plan to introduce French language in all public schools in the UAE.

The announcement was made on Tuesday during a press conference about the second phase of the UAE-France Cultural Dialogue, which was held at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Officials who attended included Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, French minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Launched earlier this year, the UAE-France Cultural Dialogue aims to promote the exchange of cultures through activities held in both countries, including art exhibitions, theatre performances, and the promotion of both Arabic and French languages.

“The UAE celebrates the centennial of the founding father late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the leader who laid the first foundations of the UAE-France relationship that bore witness to a comprehensive renaissance in all fields,” said Al Kaabi.

“The bilateral relationship between both countries has evolved into strategic partnerships in political and economic fields on one hand, and in cultural, artistic and educational fields on the other,” she added, lauding the ties between the UAE and France.

Al Kaabi said the pilot programme was being reintroduced for the first time since 1988. “With the beginning of the new academic year, which began a few days ago, and as part of the outcome of the first phase of the dialogue, we are pleased to reintroduce French language in a number of Emirati public schools as a pilot phase for the first time since 1988, in the hope that this will open the way to teaching French in all public schools in the future.”

Speaking on what to expect from the second phase of the cultural dialogue, Al Kaabi said that emphasis would be placed on subjects such as artificial intelligence and the preservation of endangered cultural heritage.

“The second phase of the culture dialogue will focus on two key topics — arts and artificial intelligence, and protecting endangered cultural heritage, in line with our efforts in supporting International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) for the protection of cultural endangered heritage around the world.

“It will also include a series of theatrical, artistic and musical events. Both our countries believe that art is a common language that brings people from around the world together. It is a language that everyone understands,” she added.

There are plans for an Emirati cultural week in Paris in October. “As we are committed to raising awareness of the French people about our rich Emirati culture, we are organising an Emirati cultural week in Paris this October to highlight the cultural harmony between France and the UAE and to showcase our contemporary art and culture,” Al Kaabi said.

Meanwhile, Le Drian said he was looking forward to continuing the cultural exchanges with the UAE, calling the dialogue between both countries a major success so far.

“We want to create a new momentum with the launch of the second phase of the cultural dialogue … Having this dialogue in 2018 also allows us to join the UAE in celebrating the Year of Zayed, a great friend of France.”

“The Louvre Abu Dhabi — the first universal museum in the Arab world is the most beautiful example of the exchange of culture and civilisations,” he added.