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Students attend a Hebrew language course. There are three levels of Hebrew courses available from complete Hebrew beginner to upper advanced. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE residents have started learning the Jewish language Hebrew, which is spoken in Israel, through the new Educational Hebrew Institute (EHI) in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The development follows an increase in interest in Jewish culture and language after the signing of the ‘Abraham Accords’ normalisation agreement between the UAE and Israel in 2020.

EHI director Josh Samet said the institutes’ courses are approved, fully recognised and licensed by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). A certificate will be provided to each participant upon completion of the EHI Hebrew language course.

EHI also offers online courses tailored to individual needs and level of experience. The courses are taught live in a virtual classroom on Zoom, where learners are able to see and talk to the teacher, write on a board, go over exercises and get corrected where necessary. Logging in can be done wherever there is an internet connection at work or home.

According to the EHI website, there are three levels of Hebrew courses available from complete Hebrew beginner to upper advanced.

Growing demand

Samet said: “The recent peace agreement between Israel and UAE and Bahrain sparked a large demand in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Gulf states for knowledge and education cantered around the Hebrew language and culture. Even though there is no peace agreement yet between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Educational Hebrew Institute has already many participants from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in the EHI Online Hebrew Courses. They are learning Hebrew online from home with Educational Hebrew Institute classes from 7am to 11pm.”

Arabic-Hebrew similarities

He added: “For the Emiratis here in the UAE and Arabic speakers, it is very easy to learn Hebrew because many Hebrew and Arabic words are the same. They have same grammar rules, they’re both Semitic languages. Both Hebrew and Arabic rely on systems of three-letter roots. Hebrew and Arabic share some letters of the alphabet. Educational Hebrew Institute recently did a Hebrew translation about the COVID-19 vaccine for the Abu Dhabi government … Many Israelis will come soon again to the UAE. There is still a lockdown in Israel, the airports in Israel and in Tel Aviv are still not open.”