Abu Dhabi: More than 400,000 French speaking people from 77 countries living in the UAE will be celebrating their language and culture in a month long annual festival titled ‘March is Francophone’.

The festival is to promote “Francophonie” — a concept deeply rooted in history and shared by 77 countries — based on a common linguistic but also cultural, historical and political space.

It is also strongly supported by the UAE, which has been officially an observer member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) since 2010. IOF, the Paris based organisation was created in 1970 with a mission to embody the active solidarity between its 75 member states which together represent more than a third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of more than 890 million people, including 220 million French speakers.

The festival is to pay tribute to the Francophone community in the UAE and across the world, the organisers said at a press conference on Wednesday.

In partnership with Alliance Francaise of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain and Alliance Francaise of Dubai, with Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, and with other non-profit actors, Institut Francais announced that the festival will be held from March 3 to March 29.

A wide range of events about the French language, Francophone culture and Franco-Emirati cooperation will take place in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai. From hip-hop to family activities through painting, music, sports, cinema or poetry, there will be something for everyone.

On March 3, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi will host a symposium on campus about the means and possibilities to teach French language and grammar in the UAE.

The festivities will start on March 6 at 7pm at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, where Institut Francais will offer a concert of the queen of Arabic hip-hop Malikah, who is back in Abu Dhabi where she did the opening for Snoop Dog with success in 2011.

March 8 will be a very special celebration of International Women’s Day with a volleyball competition involving local women’s teams, at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Then, from 8pm (and until March 23), an exhibition of paintings by women artists — both French expatriates and Emiartis — will be launched at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche.

French writers, Dominique de St Mars, Maxime Chattam and Jerome Ferrari will appear at the Emirates Airlines Literature Festival in Dubai from March 5 to 10.

On March 22, the month-long celebration will culminate in a great celebration day with concerts and various activities on Abu Dhabi beach. There will be games, contests and artist performances, finishing with a concert of the band Same Same But Different.