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Saudi introduces Chinese in schools to boost diversity

Less than 12 months after announcing that Chinese would be introduced into all levels of education in Saudi Arabia, eight schools across the Kingdom have now officially started teaching the language.

The list of schools now teaching the language currently include four in Riyadh, two in Jeddah and two in the eastern province. Photo: Flickr

King Saud University has been teaching Chinese since 2010

The announcement in February 2019 came after Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Beijing during his five-day tour of Asia.

“China will be a close partner of the Kingdom in the process, which strengthens the strong relationship between us”

During the “Teaching Chinese language in Education” workshop in March last year, Saudi minister of Education, Hamad Al-Sheikh, called for a one year intensive program for teachers to be qualified to teach the language.

Having so far graduated 35 students, King Saud University has been teaching Chinese since 2010 and discussed the experience at the workshop.

The list of schools now teaching the language currently include four in Riyadh, two in Jeddah and two in the eastern province.

In a tweet, Saudi education ministry spokesperson Ibtisam Al-Shehri said that “[the introduction] represents the first stage of the ministry’s plan to teach the Chinese language on a larger scale that includes female students” and also made a note that it is not a compulsory subject.

The introduction of the Chinese language comes as an effort to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between the two countries and to also increase the diversity within the Kingdom as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

In his message for Vision 2030, Saudi crown prince said, “we are determined to reinforce and diversify the capabilities of our economy, turning our key strengths into enabling tools for a fully diverse future”.

Chinese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chen Weiqing, wrote to the crown prince in a tweet and said that “[he hopes] the younger generation in the Kingdom will be fluent in Chinese, love Chinese culture, and embrace an honourable future for the two friendly countries”.

He further thanked the MoE and stated that “China will be a close partner of the Kingdom in the process, which strengthens the strong relations between [them].”

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