YCMES was the first institution in Yemen to be devoted to teaching Arabic, and we remain the best. For more than two decades we have offered programs in both Yemeni Colloquial Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic at every level and to over 9,000 students from across the world.  Our credit hours are recognized by hundreds of universities worldwide, and we offer both group classes, capped at eight students and meeting four hours per day, and private tuition that can be tailored to your needs.

The Arabic Program was founded and developed by Mr. Sabri Saleem, and is proud of the collective experience of its staff in teaching Arabic as a foreign language, ranging from 5 to 25 years. All teachers place the greatest emphasis on developing a student’s ability to speak and comprehend Arabic by listening to native speakers. Although taught in class, reading and writing are particularly emphasized in homework assignments. Classes here are designed to create an intimate environment between staff and the student body, and all the Arabic language teachers maintain office hours during which students may visit them for additional help.

A comprehensive placement examination evaluating each student’s speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills is administered prior to the start of each term. Classes are then organized on the basis of examination results in consultation with the teaching staff – the individual courses are described in the ‘syllabus’ section.

Instruction and Philosophy

Standard instruction consists of either four hours of group classes per day or two hours of private tutoring, depending on total enrollment and individual student level. Classes are held from Saturday to Wednesday, with breaks given during official Yemeni holidays.

Enrollment in the Arabic programme is limited to eight students per class, although class size is frequently smaller. YCMES attempts to preserve the smallest class size possible in order to maximise the student-teacher interaction and to personalise course work to the students’ individual interests and abilities.

Languages other than Arabic are not permitted during the lesson, except at the elementary level when students have not yet acquired sufficient vocabulary to understand grammar and vocabulary explanations in Arabic. Even in these instances, the teacher will use only as much English as is absolutely necessary. Staff and instructors at YCMES strongly believe that students develop language skills more rapidly and effectively if they are completely immersed in Arabic from the outset of their studies. Outside class, students are encouraged to communicate among themselves in Arabic and to make social contacts locally, and even our formal classes are as likely to take place in the souk as in the classroom.

Adjustments to improve the curriculum are discussed during weekly meetings between the teaching staff and the director. Furthermore, an annual review takes place to evaluate the effectiveness of our teaching system, course materials and administration, and guest lecturers often give workshops to introduce new techniques to teaching. YCMES, for example, has hosted Peter Abboud and Aman Attieh in the past to offer its teaching staff lessons and lectures in teaching Arabic as a foreign language and pedagogy. This process is aided by instructor input and extensive student feedback, collected verbally and by means of a detailed course evaluation form, which each student completes at the midpoint and conclusion of the term.

Arabic for Specific Purposes

Some students, researchers or employees local to Sana’a have particular needs and interests for their Arabic studies. These may be historical, political, literary, social or religious, but whatever the subject, YCMES has teachers for specialised subjects or personalised courses. The material will not only be tailored to the students’ needs but will also be appropriate to their language level. Students will be taught for between two and four hours a day, and if a student requires specialist study that YCMES cannot provide then we are able to liaise with local universities and experts to find a suitable tutor.

Some students may need to study Yemeni dialect for the purposes of their research, study or work. YCMES also has teachers who are experienced in tutoring students in dialect at all levels, using a variety of in house text books and materials from Yemeni media. Contact for more details.


In 2007, the PAL became the first and only fully-accredited Arabic program for international students in Yemen. With the YCMES license from the Ministry of Higher Education, university students have a much easier time transferring credit back to their home institutions.

YCMES is expanding its partnerships and relationships with over 100 universities worldwide, most notably in the US, Canada, and Europe. Each university agreement differs, and for transfer credit information please contact your university’s Registrar’s Office or Arabic language department.

In order to issue the appropriate Certification of Credit to the student’s home university, the YCMES stipulates that all students requesting academic credit successfully complete both the midterm and final examinations. For each 100-hour term we are able to validate a maximum of 6 course credits.

For more information on university relations with the YCMES, please contact the main YCMES office at