Dubai: The expansion of a French language and cultural centre in Dubai is the latest stepping stone in a tangible growing friendship between France and the UAE, said a high-ranking French official visiting the country.
Alliance Francaise inaugurated its new cultural spaces on Thursday at its Oud Metha branch in Dubai, which included a renovated theatre, French language media library, and a new art gallery and restaurant serving authentic French food.
The cultural spaces were inaugurated by Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, Secretary-General of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, as part of his visit to the country for the 10th session of the strategic dialogue between France and the UAE, and Zaki Nussaibah, Minister of State.
“This relationship between France and the UAE is a long-lasting relationship. It was founded by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and for more than 40 years, we have been working together on a steady base of reinforcing, consolidating the friendship, the trust, and the partnership between us,” Gourdault- Montagne told Gulf News in an interview.
For 35 years, the Alliance Française in Dubai has been a hub where students, teachers, trainers, and important personalities of the cultural, educational and economic fields in the UAE meet to learn French and deepen their knowledge of the French and francophone cultures.
“The expansion of Alliance Francaise is an opportunity for thousands of Emirati students to learn French,” Gourdault- Montagne said. “French is a global language like English and Arabic, it touches all continents and areas of the world.”
He added that the Alliance Francaise has played a major role in the promotion of French, with 834 centres in the world, in 132 countries and 550,000 students, including 3,500 at the Alliance Francaise in Dubai.
“Everyone studying here belong to that huge network and we are proud of the achievements, results and quality of students studying here. They are among the best ones. The more we speak French, the more we shall build these partnerships,” he said.
At least 30,000 pupils learn French in UAE private schools, he noted. Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi delivers French degrees and the country has decided to reintroduce French language classes in Emirati public schools.
The opening of the centre follows a series of warm gestures by the France to boost friendly ties with the UAE. In November last year, French President Emmanuel Macron was welcomed in Abu Dhabi during which he attended the grand opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first Louvre museum to open outside Paris.
Bernard Frontero, director of Alliance Francais, said the centre went through new renovations starting with the library in 2016, which is the region’s first francophone library.
“The library is a true resource centre that is regularly updated with more than 25,000 documents, books, periodicals, audio and video contents, offering the opportunity to become familiar with French and francophone language and culture,” he said.
The theatre also went through a new makeover, he said, and is fully equipped to host French performances, concerts, film screenings, musicals and plays.
As for the new art gallery, it has been dedicated to the visual arts and offers the opportunity to discover exhibitions of French and Emirati artists.