My UAE: Hanan Al Fardan, co-founder of Al Ramsa

The passionate Emirati businesswoman is the co-founder of Al Ramsa Institute, which teaches the Emirati dialect.
Hanan Al Fardan is the co-founder and managing director of Al Ramsa Institute, a language centre in Dubai that teaches the Emirati dialect to non-Arabic speakers. Reem Mohammed / The National
Hanan Al Fardan is the co-founder and managing director of Al Ramsa Institute, a language centre in Dubai that teaches the Emirati dialect to non-Arabic speakers. Reem Mohammed / The National

Hanan Al Fardan always wanted to do something innovative, which would also have a positive ­impact on people’s lives.

So last June she set up a language institute, Al Ramsa, a place where she could teach the Emirati dialect to interested students.

“I was teaching it since 2011 in an institute in Dubai, and my students urged me to set up an institute,” she says. “In 2012, I met my mentor Ammar Shams, who advised me to follow my dream.

“I am an inspiration in the community now, and that’s rewarding, but it was a long journey from sorting business plans to getting approvals ... I got many rejections because the idea of teaching the dialect is new,” she says.

Perhaps even more inspirational is the fact that this passionate businesswoman, who has a full-time government job, has built the curriculum from scratch and created a phrase book, too.

The classes, which have been attended by 200 students so far, are a way of breaking down barriers as well as picking up language skills. “We wanted to Emiratise the language sector because there are many people who would like to learn Arabic from native speakers,” she says.

Al Ramsa also offers an environment for people to learn about Emirati food, culture, history and family values. “We invite students to our wedding parties to help them interact with Emiratis in a friendly environment.”

The Zayed University international studies graduate, who has a master’s in international policy and management in education, is very pleased with her efforts.

“I feel proud but I still feel hungry for more.”

So while the classes are held in Dubai right now – “we have private and group courses, face-to-face and online, and we just started teaching through Whatsapp” – Al Fardan plans to open branches in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, too.

Quick chat with Hanan Al Fardan

What is the last book you read?

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything by Elizabeth Gilbert. I strongly believe that reading novels helps individuals to be more creative and imaginative.

Where do you go or what do you do to relax?

Jumeirah Beach: it’s so relaxing and inspiring. I like to surround myself with water.

If you could invite three people to dinner who would they be?

I would invite my future husband; Nelson Mandela because of his noble work to promote peace in his country and the world; and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid [Vice President and the Ruler of Dubai].

What do you love most about Dubai?

The focus on achievements and its vision for the future.

Where is your favourite place to holiday?

I prefer to travel to new countries (in cold weather) rather just one favourite place. Japan is somewhere I’d like to go.

Who has given you the best piece of advice in your life?

Ammar Shams, head of corporate sustainability at HSBC. He was my mentor for a year and advised me to open Al Ramsa Institute and be an entrepreneur.

Whom do you admire?

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid because he makes miracles in Dubai.

What would you like to achieve in the next five to 10 years?

I want to reform the Arabic language teaching and learning sector in the UAE and the world. I want to be a teacher in a higher-education institution, then a consultant in the education sector and finally a minister for Arabic language and culture.

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

I want to be hidden and travel through time whenever I can.

What is your favourite movie?

I like to watch movies that have a surprise element. I don’t like typical movies where I can easily guess what the next scene is. I enjoyed watching a film called Hide and Seek.

Published: June 18, 2015 04:00 AM


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