Dubai: Shuaib Kandoth, a finance manager with a ship chartering company in Dubai, has been living in the UAE for 22 years. He always regretted not getting a platform where he could polish his skills in conversing in the language of the land, the basics of which he had picked up over the years.
Expats like Kandoth are soon going to benefit from a new club in town. Toastmasters International, a global non-profit organisation empowering individuals to become effective communicators and leaders, is all set to launch the first-ever Arabic Speakers’ Toastmasters Club in Dubai for non-Arab speakers of the language.
The club has been specially designed for non-Arab speakers of the Arabic language who have skills in reading.
The first-of-its-kind initiative of Toastmasters is expected to pave the way for cultural exchange, linguistic growth, and an inclusive platform for residents across the UAE, according to the organisers.
“I have benefitted immensely from the English speakers’ Toastmasters Club. I am looking forward to the same in Arabic,” said Kandoth, who is among the first to enroll with the club.
By gaining expertise in Arabic, he believes he can interact with a wider group of people. “It is going to greatly improve your career prospects, with wider contacts and better perks,” Kandoth added.
Dr. Abdul Sathar, club growth director of Toastmasters International under Division - D, District 127, Dubai, said: “We are immensely delighted to introduce this initiative, cementing our deep-rooted commitment to this amazing country.”
He said it would be a great opportunity for the attendees for personal development through the Arabic language, the very heart of the UAE’s culture.
The inaugural meeting of the new club’s members is scheduled for August 5. Following a hybrid format, the event will allow both physical and virtual participation to accommodate the diverse population of the country.
It will be inaugurated by UAE-based Indian writer, critic, social commentator, and Arabic expert, Shajahan Madampat.
“The Arabic Speakers Toastmasters Club is an initiative close to my heart, as it symbolises the beauty of cultural exchange and inclusivity. It offers a unique platform for non-Arab speakers of the Arabic language to engage with the rich Arabic language and heritage, fostering a deeper appreciation for the region’s traditions and values,” Madampat said in a statement.
Organisers said ample free parking has been arranged for the attendees of the event at MAF Fire Middle East in Al Qusais.
To ensure an engaging and inclusive experience, the inaugural meeting will be a bilingual event, with active participation from both Arabic and English clubs in Dubai. Attendees will have the opportunity to witness a demonstration meeting, showcasing the values and ethos of Toastmasters International.
The inaugural meeting will also feature Naseem Hamza, an Arabic scholar, writer, translator, and trainer. Hamza’s illustrious career has earned him several recognitions, including the prestigious Golden Visa for excellence in the Arabic language.
The mastermind behind the initiative, Hamza will be leading the meeting as the Toastmaster of the Day (TMOD) for the inaugural meeting of Arabic Speakers Toastmasters Club.
“We firmly believe that this groundbreaking initiative aligns with the visionary goals set forth by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It exemplifies the UAE’s commitment to promoting the Arabic language among non-Arabic communities using innovative and inclusive methods,” said Hamza.
“There are Arabic Toastmasters clubs for native Arabs. But non-Arabs hesitate to join them as they are not as fluent as native speakers. The aim of the new club is to help them get that fluency and proficiency in this language.”
In addition to networking opportunities, he said, the club will also provide opportunities to build confidence in Arabic communication and interactions with native Arabs through joint meetings with other Arabic clubs in the UAE.
“All you need to join this club is to know how to read Arabic. We are dedicated to creating a new version of you in a few months if you are a committed and dedicated person with a passion for personal development.”
To boost the confidence of those who have basic reading skills in the language, Hamza said, a free short-term course in Arabic will be offered if they take one-year membership in the club.
“It is a special offer that I have initiated. The three-month online course will be delivered free of cost,” he added.