İbn Haldun University based in Istanbul is attracting Arabic students from abroad with a new program. The university's Language School partnered with the U.S.-based Al-Madina Institute and local non-profit organization İlim Yayma Cemiyeti (The Association for the Expansion of Knowledge) for the one-year program.
Held in a restored 16th-century Ottoman school, the program hosts more than 70 students and academics from 10 countries, offering them an opportunity to study Arabic as well as Islamic sciences.
University president Professor Recep Şentürk said they aimed not only to provide a quality education but also to ensure "a remarkable Istanbul experience" for participants that would set the stage for future goodwill ambassadors in Turkey.
With a rising interest from the Arab world, an increasing number of tourists from Arabic-speaking countries, Arabic has slowly become a popular language in Turkey where the primary foreign language has been English for decades. In the central city of Konya, "Arab Village," a camp for high school students, offers them an immersive language learning environment with teachers who are native speakers. Participants are barred from speaking any other language other than Arabic in "the village" initiated by an association of alumni from imam-hatip schools - institutions that specialize in religious education and Arabic language instruction. In 2011, the Ministry of National Education introduced Arabic language courses as an elective for fourth and eighth graders. Previously, Arabic education was limited to imam-hatip schools.