Hidden in Jabriya’s mélange of lush greenery and concrete is the French Institute of Kuwait, a sleepy and poetic villa that captures the peaceful vibe of the borough’s quieter side. Established in 1969 under the title Institut Voltaire, the French Institute rebranded itself as a cultural and educational hub of all things Français in 2012 as Institut Français du Koweït (the French Institute of Kuwait). Made up of two charming villas, a staff of twenty people, a library, a café, and a beautiful garden with tables and comfortable seating, the French Institute houses an array of courses for all levels and ages, taught by eight full-time teachers and various substitutes. The atmosphere exudes France, and visitors, students or otherwise, can instantly feel embraced with a desire to explore the culture further. “The French Institute is a tool to promote French culture,” says Cutural Counsellor of the French Embassy and Director of the French Institute, Monsieur Issam Taleb. “We do this by implementing the vision of HE the Ambassador, and this includes what France is best known for: gastronomic culture, dance, fashion, cinema, music, studies, literature and tourism, etc.”
It isn’t all about learning a language at the French Institute, although their extensive classes prove them to be the ideal place to brush up on your passé composé versus your imparfait. The Institute also offers a supportive outlet for the arts and creatives. For instance, the French Institute partnered with Cinescape Kuwait, offering an opportunity for students to submit application forms to experience a funded trip to Paris, where they will be sent to the renowned La Fémis Cinéma School. “We want to put Kuwait on the map with films and show the world that there’s real talent here, and what better way to do that than in Paris? Last year, we sent three students.” If cinema is not your thing, the French Institute also wants to send young artists to live in Paris during a month , in order to experience la vie bohème in the most artistic city in the world, because, as Monsieur Taleb believes, creatives need the space and opportunity to thrive. “This generation is an extremely creative generation, and we want to give them the opportunity to grow.”
The French institute offers many cultural events for the public, Francophone and otherwise. During the month of March, with other embassies they organised the Francophonie 2016, a festival that featured different events from lectures to concerts and film screenings from different French speaking nations around the world. Don’t fret if you’ve missed it, because the Institute is dedicated to showcasing events such as these on a regular basis! Upcoming interesting cultural events are sure to happen in the near future! They particularly enjoy bringing in French musicians such as Souad Massi and Dorsaf Hamdani to perform their beautiful music at venues like the Yarmouk Cultural Center or Shaheed Park, and have partnered with Nuqat, Loyac, Reuse, Sabab, Green Caravan Film Festival, to stand in public solidarity towards their support of creative education.
Other than your basic French classes ranging from A1 to B2, they offer different classes that are dedicated to perfecting your French speech in professional conversational settings: law, business, diplomacy, medecine. If you’re looking to pursue an education at a French university, the French Institute can be a helpful tool. They offer guidance and assistance with filling out your applications and helping you decide on where to study, as well as aid in visa applications and bursaries. Issam states that “More that 12,000 Kuwaiti students are studying abroad, and currently only 120 of them are studying in France! We want to increase that number and will do whatever we can to help.” For that purpose they created an office called Campus France Koweit. The Institute also has a great library where you can check out books and return them at an allotted time, and where children can enjoy story-telling activities.
Whether you’re a French citizen or from another French speaking country, looking to learn a new language or improve your French speaking skills, or just a creative looking for a space to showcase your work, this is the place for you. It’s a relaxed yet professional and organized atmosphere that is extremely accessible and welcoming. Discover Kuwait’s piece of France and what the French Institute has to offer.
The French Institute is located in Jabriya Block 12, street 6, villa 41. For more information and to stay updated on events, check out their website at www.institutfrancais-koweit.com. Follow them on Facebook: Instutfrancais.dukoweit, Instagram @if_koweit @campusfrancekwt, and Twitter and Youtube @IFKoweit.
Photography by Muneera AlKhulaifi.