Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

UAE’s only Russian school sends open invite to President Vladimir Putin

The Russian International School in Dubai holds intercultural event to honour Mr Putin’s visit to UAE on Tuesday

The Russian International School pupils perform a traditional dance ahead of president Vladimir Putin's visit to the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National
The Russian International School pupils perform a traditional dance ahead of president Vladimir Putin's visit to the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National

Clad in traditional costumes, pupils from the UAE’s only Russian curriculum school celebrated their country’s heritage on Monday ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the country.

During a performance at its small campus in Dubai, pupils from The Russian International School said they were excited to witness Mr Putin’s arrival to the UAE.

“I think Mr Putin’s visit is a big step for both the UAE and Russia as it will help towards the country’s space exploration efforts,” Yana Akhmetova, 13, said.

“If I had the chance to ask Mr Putin one question, I would want to know if the two countries are working on a project to build a space rocket right here in the UAE,” Maxim Davidson, 13, said.

About 250 pupils from FS1 to Grade 11 attend the school and, while almost half of them are Russian, Marina Khalikova, the school’s principal, said the unique thing about the campus is its multinational mix. Pupils from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Canada and Turkey, among others, attend the school.

“We call our pupils ‘friends of Russia’, because like both the UAE and Russia, many different nationalities come together under one roof,” she said.

Since it opened in 1996, more than 8,000 pupils have passed through the school gates.

“I believe we hold a particular responsibility as the only Russian school in the UAE,” Ms Khalikova said.

“We would love to invite Mr Putin down to our campus to show him how we are promoting the language, culture and traditions of our country.”

During Monday’s presentation, dedicated to the Russian leader, pupils performed a “dance of many cultures” to tie in with the school’s international theme.

Due to its vast size and geographic location, Russia came into contact with many different cultures through migration and trading. As a result, it comprises a cultural mix of European and Asian influences, which influenced traditional Russian music and folk dances.

Mr Putin’s arrival in the UAE on Tuesday will mark his first official trip since 2007. During his visit to Abu Dhabi, he will hold talks with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Sheikh Mohamed previously met Mr Putin during visits to Russia in 2017 and 2018.

Ms Khalikova said the visit is “very timely”.

“It is a showcase of peace and tolerance between the two countries,” she said.

“We are hopeful to see what kind of projects the two will be collaborating on in the future, especially in the science, education and space exploration fields.”

Pupils at the school also discussed what one question they would ask Mr Putin.

“I would focus on climate change … I’d ask him how he is tackling carbon emissions in Russia,” Mikhail Gordeichik, 13, said.

“For me, as a pupil who is proud to be studying the Russian curriculum in Dubai, I want to know if he has any plans to reform the education system,” said Sofiya Abduraimova, 15.

“I believe it is important to reconsider the way homework and exams are carried out in school … I’d like to see a more holistic approach to education.”

Updated: October 14, 2019 08:45 PM

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