ABU DHABI - Zayed University today announced the launch of the Zai Centre, a pioneering new research centre focused on Arabic teaching and learning, which will be the first academic institution in the UAE to look at how Arabic is taught around the world.

Led by internationally acclaimed academic Dr. Hanada Taha Thomure, Zai will identify best practice for teaching Arabic and develop the tools to empower teachers enabling them to inspire their students.

Zai will also provide parents with guidance on how they can ensure that their children are able to improve their Arabic at home from a young age.

Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and Chair of Zayed University’s Board of Trustees, said, “The Arabic language is inextricably linked with our heritage, culture, and homeland. We all, therefore, have a duty to promote, preserve, and enhance the teaching of Arabic. The recently published Report on the Status and Future of the Arabic Language published by the Ministry of Culture and Youth identified that there is an absence of a clear vision for teaching Arabic as a world language. Our ambition is to establish the Zai centre as a leader in this space and become the first accrediting body for Arabic language education in the world by 2026.”

Outlining the plans for the centre, Dr. Thomure explained, “The UAE has established itself as the global trailblazer in promoting Arabic teaching and learning. The leadership has identified that an in-depth understanding of the Arabic language opens young people up to a world of possibilities and creates job opportunities. Zai will collaborate with other researchers in the field to understand how to support Arabic teaching and learning, ensuring that teachers, parents and policymakers have the tools they need to support and inspire the next generation of Arabic speakers. We have a number of exciting interdisciplinary initiatives including the development of a new Arabic reading screening tool which will ensure that students who are experiencing difficulties in learning Arabic are identified early, enabling them to receive the extra support they need. Our soon-to-be launched digital platform will become an essential resource to teachers. It is an honour to be the Director of this pioneering new centre.”

Further plans announced by the Zai Centre include the creation of the first Children’s Arabic Corpus in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, which will identify the most frequently used words in Modern Standard Arabic, helping to standardise vocabulary and focus student learning efforts; and the development of a resource library, beginning with translations of the top 100 studies on teaching Arabic published in academic journals, but are currently predominantly only available in English.

Initial partnerships have already been signed with the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center, Queen Rania Foundation, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashed Global Initiatives and Arab Thought Foundation.

The Zai Centre is the first demonstration of Zayed University’s strategic shift towards a focus on applied research. Zai, and future research centres, will be homed in an innovative new research institute which will drive forward challenging research projects in distinct niches aligned with national priorities.