Stornoway Primary School Boy Wins Gaelic Award Four Years After Arriving From Syria

A Stornoway Primary School Pupil, whose family moved to Lewis from war-torn Syria, has gone viral this week after receiving an award for the progress he has made in learning Gaelic.

By Murray MacLeod
Monday, 26th April 2021, 10:29 am
The three brothers Abdullah, Anas and Majd. Abdullah and Majd holding their Gaelic Certificates.
The three brothers Abdullah, Anas and Majd. Abdullah and Majd holding their Gaelic Certificates.

Ten year old Abdullah Al Nakeeb moved to Stornoway from Homs, four years ago. Now in Primary Six, Abdullah has a good grasp of the local language.

The Al Nakeeb family said: “We are really proud of Abdullah, he loves going to school here and Gaelic has become one of his favourite subjects.

"Addullah always works really hard and it is nice to see him get praise for all his efforts.

“We never expected our son to learn the language but since moving here he has managed to pick up Gaelic very quickly.

"His younger brother Majd has also got a good grasp of the language and received a certificate for his progress in December.

“Hopefully Abdullah’s brothers will continue to follow in his footsteps, it would be great to have them all speaking a new language.”

Stornoway Primary Head Teacher Peigi Maclean said: “Abdullah began to learn English as a second language when he came to Stornoway and is now fluent in both Arabic and English.

"His first language is Arabic. Since arriving at Stornoway Primary School, he has participated in Gaelic, French and Mandarin lessons.

“He now has a good understanding of Gaelic and is eager to develop his Gaelic conversational skills at every opportunity. As Abdullah is already bilingual, he has the skills to transfer between three languages with ease.”

The Al Nakeebs were among four families who arrived in Lewis from Syria in 2017, under the care and direction of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, with local authorities encouraged to do their bit to accept refugees into their communities.

There are understood to be six Syrian families resident on the island all together, all living in and around Stornoway, and seem to have settled in very well, as their new-found ability in the Gaelic language will testify.

Homs is a city in western Syria around 162 kilometres north of Damascus and was known as a rebel stronghold during the civil war. It was subject to a brutal siege lasting three years.