Sharjah: Alliance Française, the prestigious 100-year old institution devoted to sharing and promoting the beauty of French language and culture worldwide, now has its own home in Sharjah.
The emirate’s Department of Government Relations (DGR) announced on Thursday the establishment of Alliance Française in Sharjah, in the presence of Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of DGR and Alliance Française Sharjah, and Xavier Chatel, the Republic of France Ambassador to the UAE.
By adding a new centre to the UAE’s vibrant Alliance Française network, Sharjah has crossed a major milestone in realising the vision that His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, set for the emirate’s overarching cultural project, while also advancing the nation’s offerings in foreign linguistics and culture.
On the sidelines of the announcement, the French Embassy and Alliance Française’s Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah branches have also signed a partnership agreement to advance expertise and knowledge exchange among them.
The agreement also seeks to enhance Emirati-French relations, particularly in areas of digital technology and entrepreneurship, as well as raise the level of professionalism of French teachers and linguists in these institutions through expert consultations, experience and expertise sharing, and follow-ups on joint projects in various sectors.
During his keynote speech, Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, chairman of DGR, said: “We are pleased to sign this agreement, which further strengthens the close friendship between Sharjah and French cities. This partnership complements our joint efforts in scientific, cultural, human and economic fields, and represents a step forward towards bolstering bilateral relations.”
He added: “French is the world’s fifth most spoken language, and the official language in 29 countries around the world. By opening the doors of a prestigious French language learning school in Sharjah, we have opened a vibrant new avenue for the pursuit of knowledge, literature and culture in the emirate. With the introduction of an institute of repute to Sharjah’s rich cultural landscape, we seek to attract more French schools and educational centres to the emirate. We look forward to benefiting more and more French speakers in the coming years,” he added.
Close cultural relations
For his part, Chatel said: “The achievement we witnessed today is the culmination of significant efforts — those that will serve as the hub for future exchanges between French and Emirati cultures. We have close cultural relations with Sharjah which is home to the first French school in the UAE, and has an advanced academic infrastructure that is open to other cultures. This agreement certainly paves the way for more cooperation in educational and cultural sectors.”
Hussain Al Jaziri, president of Alliance Française Dubai, added: “Sharjah was the first emirate in the UAE to teach French to preparatory schools students in the 60s. So it is only fitting that a branch of the Alliance Française is established here, as it is perfectly aligned with the vision of the Sharjah Ruler’s cultural project to enhance exchanges and relations with the Francophone culture”.
Sultan Al Hajji, president of Alliance Française Abu Dhabi, said the establishment of the Alliance Française network in the UAE will boost the cultural relations between the UAE and France. Through the new cultural centre, DGR aims to provide French language learning opportunities, learn about the distinguished francophone authors, intellectuals and cultural achievements, provide access to renowned literary works, and provide a platform for cultural exchange.
Others in attendance during the announcement were Nathalie Kennedy, Consul General of the French Republic in Dubai; Sheikh Majid Bin Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director, DGR; Marie-Laure Charrier, Deputy Consul General of France to the UAE; Hussain Al Jaziri, President, Alliance Française, Dubai; and Sultan Al Hajji, President Alliance Française, Abu Dhabi.