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Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation


France’s cultural cooperation activities in the UAE are long-standing since they are framed by a Cultural and Technical Agreement signed on July 3rd, 1975.

France is today one of the UAE’s only partners to maintain dense cooperation on all levels: cultural, academic, linguistic, scientific, and technical, on the basis of a strong, balanced, and innovative partnership, which aims to support the ambition the country has set for 2030 to become a knowledge economy and a global cultural hub.

The growth of French teaching remains a priority, particularly in the context of the UAE’s accession the International French-speaking World Organization, with observer status in October 2010. To date, the French language is only taught in the private sector. The number of UAE students studying French is on the rise: between 50,000 and 60,000 students in 210 schools study it as a second or third language. The place and importance of French in the private school system has risen sharply over the past five to six years. In higher education, a French program, open to students from other colleges, is integrated into the translation department at the Federal University based in Al Ain.

The French teaching network in the UAE consists of five schools (direct management, under agreement, or approved): Louis Massignon and Theodore Monod secondary schools in Abu Dhabi, Georges Pompidou International French Secondary School in Dubai and Sharjah, the Dubai International French Secondary School, and the private French-speaking Lebanese school in Dubai. About 5,500 students are enrolled including about 3,200 in just the two institutions reporting to the AEFE.

The three Alliances Françaises in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and – since September 2008 – Al Ain play a vital role in spreading French language and culture in these emirates.

Major projects include academic cooperation through promoting higher education in France, disseminating French expertise and know-how and training medical specialists in France. Several higher education institutions have been established in the UAE since 2006 with the support of UAE government authorities.

Among the most emblematic educational projects in the UAE is the Abu Dhabi Sorbonne project, opened in 2006 at the request of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. This is a UAE University jointly funded and chaired by the Abu Dhabi Educational Council (ADEC) for which Paris IV University provides, in addition to the label “Sorbonne,” its techniques and teachers, alongside Paris V-Rene Descartes University with which an agreement was signed. Primarily focused on the humanities, UPSAD has opened courses in economy, management, law, international relations, and political science that have been implemented in cooperation with the University of Paris V. The university currently awards eight Bachelor’s Degrees in the social sciences and nine Master’s Degrees. For the academic year 2011/2012, the total number of students enrolled, from about fifty nationalities, has reached seven hundred students, including approximately 35% of Emiratis. In January 2010, the university moved into its definitive facilities on Reem Island, a campus of more than nine hectares hosting up to 2,500 students and which required a UAE investment of €224 million. Secular and mixed while being based on the UAE legal system, UPSAD is the only French-language university in the Persian Gulf.

Moreover, major French schools, and especially business schools such as INSEAD and HEC have established facilities, through partnerships, in Abu Dhabi, as well as the fashion school ESMOD in Dubai. For its part, the National School of Civil Engineering (Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées) signed an agreement in June 2007 with Abu Dhabi University.

Other renowned French schools are located in the UAE including INSEAD (Business School) in Abu Dhabi, and ESMOD (styling) in Dubai. Medical cooperation is exemplified in Sharjah, with agreements between Paris VII, INSERM, the Gustave Roussy Institute, and the University of Sharjah.

In the field of secondary education, an “Advanced Math and Science Pilot Class,” for which the Louis le Grand secondary school provides its expertise and techniques, was set up during the 2008/2009 school year. An administrative arrangement governing such cooperation was signed during the President of Republic’s official visit on January 15th, 2008. This program consists of teaching “French” math and physical sciences, in two model schools in Abu Dhabi (one of girls, one of boys), where students are carefully selected. These courses, taught in English, replace the UAE program. In the autumn of 2011, these model schools had more than one hundred students.

In the cultural field, an agreement was signed on March 6th, 2007 at the initiative of UAE nationals to open a universal museum in Abu Dhabi for which the Louvre will, for a period of twenty years, provide its name and expertise, and, with other major French museums, loan collections for ten years.

The Agence France-Muséums (AFM – in which the Louvre and eleven other public institutions are shareholders) is responsible, in consultation with its UAE counterpart, TDIC (Tourism Development Investment Company), for implementing this project. The Louvre and French national museums will provide, through AFM, their expertise for creating and managing this museum. A space will be reserved for temporary exhibition of works from the collections of major French museums.

Located in the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island, the Abu Dhabi Louvre is scheduled to open in 2015. The first stone was laid on May 25th, 2009 by the President of the Republic. Actual construction will begin during 2012.

Moreover, Abu Dhabi authorities have announced the creation of an Islamic World Music Center in Al Ain at the initiative of the founding chairman of the House of World Cultures, Mr. Cherif Khaznadar.

A French archaeological mission, supported by the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry, is active in the Northern Emirates (Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, and Ras al-Khaimah); where it has made, in recent years, major discoveries about the prehistoric period and the Bronze Age.

A regional audiovisual attaché based in Dubai is coordinating the regional and bilateral cooperation between France and the UAE in the field of media, audiovisual, and information technology. Audiovisual cooperation in the specific field of training for careers as radio journalists has been developed since 2007 by RFI Talents (RFI department in charge of training), with on the one hand, MBC Group (greater pan-Arab group based in Dubai Media City), and on the other, the Dubai Press Club, Arab Radio Network (ARN), and Abu Dhabi Radio.

Updated on 15.03.12


Drawing on the expertise of the Commission consultative des recherches archéologiques à l’étranger (Consultative Commission on Archaeological Research Abroad), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGCID) is subsidizing nearly 160 archaeological missions (from palaeontology to the medieval period) in 65 countries. Among others:

- Abu Dhabi - Hili: A bronze age oasis
- Oman - Mleiha: The recent pre-Islamic period on the Oman peninsula

Updated on 10.15.08



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