“BEAUTIFUL” is not a word many Irish people choose to describe the weather but, according to a group of English language students from Abu Dhabi, the rain is the best thing about Ireland.
As part of a language programme under way at Cork English College, a group of 100 United Arab Emirates (UAE) students had a chance to showcase their own culture in a welcoming ceremony attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin.
Dressed in their national costumes that would put Ladies’ Day at the Galway races to shame, the group of 60 girls and 40 boys gave visitors a chance to sample the foods, past- times and traditions of the UAE.
This was the first time a large group of UAE students have visited Ireland and we are the only country hosting female UAE students.
One hundred other students from the UAE are also on a language training programme in Dublin.
Mr Martin said he hoped it was the start of a long relationship between Ireland and Abu Dhabi and hoped it would lead to Ireland becoming a third-level education choice for the students.
One of the girls, Latifa Rashed, said she had really improved her English since her arrival here and felt Ireland was a very safe place to live. “I really like it here, I am enjoying my studies and we get to go on trips away every weekend... I loved seeing the castles and getting a chance to kiss the Blarney stone.”
Another student, Moza Ali, said she would be very sad to leave: “The countryside is beautiful here, we don’t get a lot of rain in Abu Dhabi so I think that is one of my favourite things about Ireland.”
Team leader of the girls group, Fawzeya said: “At first it was a culture shock for them because their country is so different from here, but they have enjoyed learning about Ireland and we are even hoping to try some Irish dancing at the end of the week.”
However, traditional Abu Dhabi values were being preserved; it was the first time the group of boys and girls were allowed to come together since they arrived three weeks ago.
The students, here until August 1, are being sponsored for the trip by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, his royal highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
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