University in Qatar offers Portuguese classes

14 de julho de 2016

São Paulo – This year, the Portuguese language was introduced as one of the language courses taught at the Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) of Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar. The first group, held from April to May, had 27 students. The next groups will open in August, with the classes already set to start on September 20. 

“It was a joint initiative by embassies of Portugal and Brazil, because these are the only two lusophone [Portuguese-speaking] countries with embassies in Doha. We came up with the idea to hold talks together with the university and we were able to attract interest for this initiative”, says Roberto Abdalla, Brazil’s ambassador in Qatar.

According to the diplomat, there are 1,500 Brazilians living in Doha, among them Arabs with Brazilian passports that don’t speak the language and also people that are married to Brazilians and would like to learn Portuguese.

Abdalla says that among students of the first group, there were two Qatari women. “This shows the interest from society in Portuguese and the culture of both countries”, he says.

Portuguese Paula Carrajana, the teacher for the first group, says that there were students from several nationalities. She says that the main reason, as far as Portugal is concerned, for offering the classes was to meet the demand from people from Goa, an Indian province with many Portuguese descendants that live in Qatar. In addition to them, she said, there were students from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Venezuela and Palestine.

“Some of them were curious to learn other languages, others knew Spanish and wanted to learn a cognate language, some were descendants from Portuguese and there were students that wanted to move to Brazil”, says the teacher. Carrajana has a master’s degree in Classical Studies from the University of the Azores. Her major includes Portuguese, Latin and Greek languages.

The students were divided in two groups, both at introductory level. In class, they learned to identify themselves, say their personal details, talk about themselves, about their relatives, introduce their friends and deal with daily situations, such as asking for directions and ordering in a restaurant.

Talking about the Arabic-speaking students, the teacher said she was surprised with how easily they learned the new language. “Arabic-speaking people learn the European Portuguese very easily”, she says.

Carrajana says that the classes were taught based on material by Camões Institute, an agency of the Portuguese government responsible for teaching the language abroad. The students interested in learning Brazilian Portuguese would sit an extra period after class with the teacher in which she would go over the differences between the vocabularies of both countries. According to the professor, the university is planning to open new groups for beginners and also for the following levels.

On May 5, the students of the first group received their diplomas during the celebration of Portuguese Language Day in Doha. The event was attended by the Brazilian ambassador and by António Tânger, Portuguese ambassador in Qatar.

Classes for children

According to the Brazilian ambassador, the diplomatic representation is planning to offer Portuguese classes for kids also, since the classes in the university focus only in adults. The plans, according to him, are for the classes focusing on kids to start in September or October. In the moment, the embassy is searching for a place to hold the classes.

Further information on the groups at Hamad Bin Khalifa University will be available around mid-August at

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani