Sheikh Zayed's legacy lives on in first Arab arts scheme for UK schools

The Arab British Centre will introduce the project in schools from September

Generic book club photo.
LONDON. 19th April 2012. Members listen to a reading at the first meeting of the Banipal book club held at the Arab British Centre in London  Stephen Lock for The National FOR ARTS & LIFE.
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A UK charity co-established by Sheikh Zayed, the UAE's Founding Father, has launched the first tool for teachers to help educate youngsters across Britain about the Arab world.

The Arab British Centre, founded in 1977, launched the project 18 months ago to help children gain a better understanding of the Arabic world through culture.
The project, Exploring the Curriculum through Contemporary Arab Arts, was launched on Thursday in London and is due to be introduced in schools from September.
The resource for teachers has been made available for free on the centre's website.
"This is our first foray working with schools, largely in response to what teachers and students want," said Nadia El Sebai, the centre's director.

“We have always wanted to work with schools to help change perceptions of the Arab world."

The charity has been working with state schools in Tower Hamlets, east London.

The authors of the resource have worked with youngsters to develop the best way to help them expand their learning.

On Thursday, the charity tried out the activities on teachers from across the country.

Artists include Dubai-based French-Tunisian street artist El Seed, who combines Arabic calligraphy with graffiti; Mona Hatoum, who uses maps in her artwork to challenge preconceptions about the world; musician Cheb Khaled; and rapper Mona Haydar.

The work has been a collaboration with the HEC Global Learning Centre to explore global citizenship.

The programme’s author, Alia Al Zougbi, took theatre and art into schools to establish the resource.

“It is not just for children," Ms Al Zougbi said. "We all have the child within us and this is what we are trying to create from this resource.

"We want to tackle important issues through contemporary Arab art."

Ms El Sebai said: “We spoke about the spirit of the work and why we did it.

“We approached Alia with the idea. We really wanted to do something within schools. We haven’t really worked with primary and secondary schools before. It has been an amazing journey ever since."