Thousands of primary school pupils in the United Kingdom have been learning about the region’s pearling industry, the oil boom and the culture of coffee in the Arabian Gulf thanks to the efforts of a British couple.
Clive Holes, a dialectologist, and his wife, Deidre, have translated examples of the oral debate-poetry that was a popular form of expression for Bedouins in Arabia in the early part of the last century.
They painstakingly converted these Arabic “artistic texts” into English-language reading material for the Hamilton Trust – a UK-based online teachers’ resource centre.
And now they are starting work with teachers in the Emirates to integrate their adaptations into English courses and history lessons here.
As part of this effort, they will lead a workshop on November 5, exclusively for teachers, on the history of oral poetry and its use in the classroom at the Nabati Poetry Conference organised by the Dubai International Writers’ Centre.
Now retired, Holes taught English in Bahrain in the 1970s and was in the faculty at the Oriental Institute at Oxford. The co-author of The Nabati Poetry of the UAE, an anthology of Emirati verse with English translations, he began studying the dialogue poetry of the munathara (or debate) genre for an academic paper and decided to develop some of the poems for schools.
Original article by Afshan Ahmed
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