His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Sultan of Oman, has bestowed a £2.8 million gift on the University of Cambridge for the permanent establishment of a Professorship of Modern Arabic.

The Chair will be known as the His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Professorship of Modern Arabic and will be located within the Faculty of Oriental Studies.

An additional £300,000 from His Majesty will enrich the study of Oriental Studies at Pembroke College, Cambridge by supporting a Fellowship there.

The gifts will enhance the University of Cambridge’s long-standing position as a centre of excellence for Arabic studies. They are also timely – modern Arabic is one of the academic subjects that the UK Government last year identified as being of strategic importance to the country’s future success.

His Majesty the Sultan has long been a generous supporter of scholarship and learning. His gifts to Cambridge – made through the Office of the Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan, for Cultural Affairs – will help achieve his goal of enabling the Arabic language to become a living, modern and freely developing entity. They will also underline Oman’s unique position in binding Arabic-speaking nations with the rest of the world.

Arabic has been taught at the University of Cambridge since the 17th century and the UK’s first ever professorship in the subject, the Sir Thomas Adams’s Professorship of Arabic, was established there in 1632.

University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Alison Richard said: “We are delighted that His Majesty the Sultan selected Cambridge as the place in which to make this contribution to the development of Arabic in the modern world. This generous endowment will enhance the teaching of Arabic at Cambridge, benefiting not just our students but the UK as a whole.”

His Majesty the Sultan’s donation precedes the official launch in September 2005 of a major fundraising campaign in celebration of the University of Cambridge’s 800th anniversary in 2009.

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