Arabic Language Education in the UAE: Choosing the Right Drivers

  • Hanada Taha ThomureEmail author


This chapter describes the many initiatives that have been spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an effort to develop the teaching and learning of Arabic in the country. Although there has been unprecedented attention given to Arabic language education in the decade up to 2018, including an Arabic language charter, a reading law, the Arabic reading challenge, the Arabic for life report, and the Arabic award to list just a few, private and public schools are still having some challenges in bringing best practice to the Arabic language classrooms with students still underperforming. The UAE vision and initiatives set in place to develop Arabic language education are to be applauded; however, it is the direction of that vision that needs to be adjusted to focus mainly on teacher preparation and teacher and school leadership training. Teachers and school leaders are the most important piece in the educational fabric and without ensuring that they receive the best preparation and continuous and meaningful training and support throughout their careers, then these initiatives will have little impact on Arabic language education outcomes.


  1. Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2014). ADEC organizes Arabic medium teacher induction: An exciting journey of discovery. Retrieved from
  2. Abu Dhabi Education Council. (2016). Report on external measurement of student achievement. Abu Dhabi Education Council: Abu Dhabi, UAE.Google Scholar
  3. Abu-Rabia, S. (2000). Effects of exposure to literary Arabic on reading comprehension in a diglossic situation. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 13, 147–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Akhanian, M. (2016). Arabic Language initiative in the UAE reaches millions of Arabs. Gulf News. Retrieved from
  5. AlAmoush, K. (2009). Arabic language teacher preparation programs at the Jordanian University: Current practices and ways to develop them. The Jordan Academy of Arabic. Retrieved from
  6. AlDannan, A. (2010). The theory of teaching MSA through natural practice: Application, assessment and dissemination. Damascus-Syria: AlBasha’er Publishing House.Google Scholar
  7. AlFarra, S. (2011). Education in the UAE: A vision for the future. In Education in the UAE: Current status and future developments. The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, Abu Dhabi.Google Scholar
  8. Allen, M. (2003). Eight questions on teacher education: What does the research say? A summary of the findings. Education Commission of the States. Retrieved from
  9. AlMousa, N. (2007). Arabic language in the modern era: Constant values and changing values. Amman: AlShurouq Publishing House.Google Scholar
  10. AlZeny, I. (2016). A conversation with one of the world’s most influential Arabic teachers. Retrieved from
  11. Arabic Award. (2018). Retrieved from
  12. Arabic for Life Report. (2014). Dubai, UAE: The UAE Prime Minister’s Executive Office.Google Scholar
  13. Arabic Reading Challenge. (2018). Retrieved from March 28, 2018.
  14. Bannayan, H., & Al Attia, H. (2015). Preparing teachers, changing lives: A position note on teacher preparations program in Jordan. Queen Rania Teacher Academy, Queen Rania Foundation.Google Scholar
  15. Bell, M. (2016, September 24). School principals insist focus is on improving Arabic classes. The National. Retrieved from
  16. Burden-Leahy, S. (2009). Globalization and education in the postcolonial world: The conundrum of the higher education system in the United Arab Emirates. Comparative Education, 45(4), 525–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Coe, R., Aloisi C., Higgins, S., & Major, L. E. (2014). What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research. Retrieved from Sutton Trust Website:
  18. Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teacher quality and student achievement: A review of state policy evidence. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8(1), 1–44. Retrieved from
  19. Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Powerful teacher education: Lessons from exemplary programs. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Evaluating teacher effectiveness: How teacher performance assessments can measure and improve teaching. Retrieved from NYSED, Office of Higher Education Website:
  21. Darling-Hammond, L. (2012). Creating a comprehensive system for evaluating and supporting effective teaching. Standford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved from
  22. Darling-Hammond, L., Holtzman, D., Gatlin, S., & Vasquez-Heilig, J. (2005). Does teacher education matter? Evidence about teacher certification, teach for America, and teacher effectiveness. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 13(42), 1–55. Retrieved from
  23. Dufour, R. (2004). What is a professional learning community? Educational Leadership, 61(8), 6–11.Google Scholar
  24. Education in the Arab World: Laggards Trying to Catch Up (2009, October 15). The Economist. Retrieved from
  25. Emirates College for Advanced Education Website. (2018). Retrieved from
  26. Emirates News. (2012). Mohamed unveils the Arabic language charter. Retrieved from
  27. (2016). United Arab Emirates Education. Retrieved from Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  28. Faour, M. (2012). The Arab World’s education report card: school climate and citizenship skills. Retrieved from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Website:
  29. Feitelson, D., Goldstein, Z., Iraqi, J., & Share, D. L. (1993). Effects of listening to story reading on aspects of literacy acquisition in a diglossic situation. Reading Research Quarterly, 28, 71–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ferguson, C. A. (1959). Diglossia. Word, 15, 325–340.Google Scholar
  31. Ferguson, C. A. (1991). Diglossia revisited. Southwest Journal of Linguistics, 10, 214–234.Google Scholar
  32. Fullan, M. (2007). Change the terms for teacher learning. National Staff Development Council, 28(3), 35–36.Google Scholar
  33. Gallagher, K. (2011). Bilingual education in the UAE: Factors, variables and critical questions. Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, 4(1), 62–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ghanimeh, M. (1996). Policies and Arab teacher preparation programs and the structure of the teaching-learning process. Cairo: Egyptian-Lebanese Publishing House.Google Scholar
  35. Higher Colleges of Technology Website. (2018). Retrieved from
  36. Issa, W. (2013). Parents brand Arabic teaching in UAE private schools a ‘disaster’. The National. Retrieved from Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  37. Kaye, A. (1994). Formal vs. Informal in Arabic: Diglossia, triglossia, tetraglossia, etc., polyglossia—multiglossia viewed as a continuum. Zeitschrift Für Arabische Linguistik, No. 27), 47–66(27), 47–66. Retrieved from
  38. Knowledge and Human Development Authority. (2016). DSIB School inspection: Key findings 2015–2016. Retrieved from
  39. Litz, D., & Scott, S. (2017). Transformational leadership in the educational system of the United Arab Emirates. Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, 45(4), 566–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., & Drucker, K. T. (2012). PIRLS 2011 international results in reading. Retrieved from
  41. Nassir, S. (2017). New ratings system for UAE universities. Khaleej Times. Retrieved from
  42. Obeid, A. (2010). Reasons for the low performance in the teaching of Arabic language. Tunisia: Arab Organization for Education, Culture and Science.Google Scholar
  43. Perfetti, C. (2007). Reading ability: Lexical quality to comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11(4), 357–383. Scholar
  44. PIRLS. (2016). International results in reading: PIRLS 2016 countries. Retrieved from
  45. Plecki, M. L., Elfers, A., & Nakamura, Y. (2012). Using evidence for teacher education program improvement and accountability: An illustrative case of the role of value-added measues. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(5), 318–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ramahi, N. (2017). New initiative will promote Arabic among UAE’s youth. The National. Retrieved from
  47. Saiegh-Haddad, E. (2005). Correlates of reading fluency in Arabic: Diglossic and orthographic factors. Reading and Writing, 18(6), 559–582. Scholar
  48. Salama, S. (2016). Reading law opens a new chapter in UAE. Gulf News. Retrieved from
  49. Shousha, F. (2014). ElSaid Badawi: A one of a kind scholar. AlAhram Newspaper. Retrieved from
  50. Stanovich, K. E. (2000). Progress in understanding reading: Scientific foundations and new frontiers. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  51. Taha, H. (2017a). Arabic language teacher education. In A. Gebril (Ed.), Applied linguistics in the Middle East and North Africa (pp. 267–287). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, ISBN 9789027265791.
  52. Taha, H. (2017b). Arabic language arts standards and performance indicators. Publisher: Educational Book House Publishing, KSA. ISBN: 978-603-8147-32-0.Google Scholar
  53. Taha-Thomure, H. (2008). The status of Arabic language today. Journal of Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, 1(3), 186–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Taha-Thomure, H. (2009). The ghoul, phoenix, loyal friend and reading. In Proceedings of the Arab Thought Foundation Conference in Arab Publishing. Beirut: Arab Thought Foundation.Google Scholar
  55. Teachaway. (2017). International education recruitment report 2017–2018: What international schools need to know about today’s job-seeking candidate. Retrieved from
  56. The National. (2017a). All classes taught in Arabic to use modern standard form. Retrieved from
  57. The National. (2017b). UAE Cabinet approves a record Dh51-4 billion federal budget for 2018. Retrieved from
  58. UNDP. (2016a). The Arab knowledge report: Knowledge 4 all. Retrieved from March 26, 2018.
  59. UNDP. (2016b).The Arab human development report 2016: Youth and the prospects for human development in a changing reality. Retrieved from
  60. United Arab Emirates University Website. (2018). Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zayed UniversityAbu DhabiUAE

Personalised recommendations