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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 February, 2005, 03:18 GMT
RAF staff getting Arabic lessons
Middle Eastern man in traditional dress
Classes in Arabic language and culture are on offer
Staff at a top RAF base are being offered courses in Arabic language and culture prior to Middle East postings.

Military personnel and civilian workers at the RAF Leeming base in North Yorkshire are taking up the offer learning new languages and lifestyles.

Run by Egyptian-born Nasr Emam, the county council's cohesion worker, the courses cover the basics in speech and different cultures.

Mr Emam said: "You don't have to become a Muslim to learn Arabic."

Better understanding

He added: "What I'm trying to do through these courses is to give people a basic understanding of the language so they can carry out simple conversations and read some signs they're likely to be confronted with.

"At the same time we broaden the discussion to take in the culture and traditions associated with Middle Eastern life so that people have a better understanding of what is important to different cultures."

Alison Wilken, the learning centre manager at the 'top gun' fighter base, which is home to the front line Tornado fighter planes, said: The RAF is committed to developing its personnel, and we're delighted to be able to offer Arabic courses on station.

""The first courses have proved to be very popular, drawing personnel not only from RAF Leeming, but also RAF Linton and 38 Reg Royal Engineers. based in Ripon.

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