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Thursday, August 4, 2011     GET REAL

UAE police brush up on their language skills
with an emphasis on Chinese, Russian

ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates, beseiged by an expatriate majority, has intensified efforts for police to learn foreign languages.


Officials said UAE police have expanded programs to introduce Western and other languages for officers at airports, police stations and community patrols. They said the law enforcement community would be required to deal with the new communities of Chinese and Russian expatriates.

"There are various divisions that require language courses for their staff, like the Criminal Investigation Department, Corrections and Reformation Centers, Immigration and Residency, airports and traffic departments," Lt. Col. Thani Butti Al Shamsi, director of training at the Abu Dhabi police, said.

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Until 2007, officials said, the UAE focused on English, required in schools throughout the emirates. But over the last three years, more than 3,000 officers have been trained in a range of languages, including Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Russian. In 2009 alone, 465 police officers attended language training courses.

"For instance, the policemen at a prison center have to have some knowledge of certain languages to facilitate their work in explaining rules and regulations to the inmates, and also to understand conversations between an inmate and others speaking the same language," Al Shamsi said.

Officials said foreign language skills would enhance police capabilities in law enforcement and counter-insurgency. They said this would also reduce dependency on interpreters.

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