My word! Bahrain offers Hebrew classes for Arabic speakers
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My word! Bahrain offers Hebrew classes for Arabic speakers

Asma Alatwi says demand is rising for business and tourism ties with Israel after relations were normalised last year

A school in Bahrain is set to launch the country’s first Hebrew language classes for Arabic speakers who want to learn another Semitic language.

Organisers say the course, which initially will be offered online only, will cater for a surge in demand for improved business and tourism ties after relations with Israel were normalised last year.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced they recognised Israel on September 15, followed shortly afterwards by Sudan and Morocco.

Hebrew language lessons from the Shemot Academy — which takes its name from the Hebrew word for “name” — will be available through dedicated smartphone apps from the middle of April.

Its organiser Asma Alatwi, a Bahraini citizen who studied Hebrew literature and language at Ain Shams University in Cairo, said it was the first class of its kind in any of the Arab Gulf States.

She told the Jewish News: “In my view, language is the most direct connection to other cultures.

“Being able to communicate in another language lets people explore the religion, community, traditions, arts and history of the people associated with that language.

“It will also strengthen the economy, businesses [and] tourism opportunities between both countries.”

Asma Alatwi from the Shemot Academy in Bahrain (Photo: Asma Alatwi)

Alatwi is the first Bahraini to study Hebrew at the Egyptian university and is taking further classes at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

She said there was a rise in demand since the Abraham Accords were signed last year, with many Arabic speakers approaching her on social media with questions about the Hebrew language.

“I feel it’s important and there is higher demand in the Gulf countries especially for business and tourism purposes,” she said.

“As part of the academy’s courses, we will offer a specific language courses — for example, in business, tourism, diplomatic and more with expert instructors.”

Shemot Academy’s handle is @shemotacademy on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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