Campus: San Francisco -- February 20, 2006

SFSU Arabic lecturer writes 'Pocket Guide to Arabic Script'

South San Francisco resident Fayeq Oweis offers user-friendly guide for beginners

As more Americans show an interest in learning Arabic, a San Francisco State University lecturer in Arabic has written a book that provides a user-friendly guide for beginners.

"Pocket Guide to Arabic Script" (Hippocrene Books), by Fayeq Oweis, includes sections on each Arabic letter from alif to yaa, grammar, vocabulary, numerals, characters and calligraphy.

Oweis, an expert on the Arabic language and calligraphy, has taught Arabic at SFSU since 2003.

"Arabic is an artistic and poetic language. My interest in the art and Arabic calligraphy led me to teaching," said Oweis, who is also an artist.

SFSU has offered Arabic classes since 2002, following a worldwide increase in interest in the language. Oweis, a South San Francisco resident who teaches an intermediate conversational Arabic course this semester to 37 students, said learning the language helps contribute to a stronger international understanding of Arab culture.

President George W. Bush, citing a crucial need for Americans to learn such languages as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Farsi, launched the National Security Language Initiative last month. The initiative aims to produce 2,000 advanced speakers of these languages by 2009.

When Hippocrene Books asked Oweis a couple years ago to write "Pocket Guide to Arabic Script," he had already created its foundation for his classes. Oweis also designed the layout of the book.

A native Arabic speaker, Oweis was born and raised in the West Bank city of Ramallah and moved to the United States in 1981. He earned his doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies from Cincinnati's Union Institute and University.

Oweis also teaches Arabic at Santa Clara University, DeAnza College in Cupertino and the Arab Cultural and Community Center in San Francisco.

A mosaic designed by Oweis is featured prominently at the entrance of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich. The mosaic is a rendering of the name of the museum in the oldest style of Arabic calligraphy - kufic.

Oweis is already at work on his next book - "Artists from Arab American Culture: A Biographical Dictionary," to be published by Greenwood Press next year.

One of the largest campuses in the California State University system, SFSU was founded in 1899 and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public, urban university.


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