The State of the Arabic Language

The State of the Arabic Language on World Arabic Language Day
Many believe that the Arabic language is falling, but is that true, or is it a prolonged myth perpetuated by us – even on World Arabic Language day?

The fall of the Arabic language has been on the tongues of many for decades now. However, is it really true that the Arabic language has been in decline? And if that is the case, when did this decline start, and is technology to blame?

The Arabic language became an official language in the United Nations on the 18th of December 1973. In 2010, to celebrate the Arabic language, UNESCO announced the 18th of December as an annual day for the celebration of the Arabic language.

Words and phrases from many languages have found their way into the Arabic language, such as 'television', 'internet', 'okay' and more. Although there are variants of these words in Arabic, people often use foreign words in their Arabic speech. However, this is not one-sided, as many Arabic words have found their way in other languages as well such as ‘algebra’, ‘zero’, ‘coffee’, and ‘alchemy’. It is also interesting to note that ‘Arsenal', an English football club, also derives its name from the Arabic language.

UAE-initiatives to preserve the Arabic language
In efforts to preserve Arabic language and the national identity of Arabs and the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, established the Consultative Council for the Arabic Language in 2012. With projects and competitions rising in the UAE, such as the Kalima Project, the “Mohammed bin Rashid Arabic Language Award”, and more, it is obligatory for all students in the UAE to learn Arabic as a separate subject in their schooling education.

Just two years ago, in efforts to improve the status of the Arabic language in the region, the UAE dedicated the year 2016 as the “Year of Reading”, which included many initiatives to encourage reading, by opening a library in Abu Dhabi International Airport, and most importantly, announcing that Dubai will be hosting the largest library in the Arab region. Such initiatives do not only support the youth and students to read, but they encourage a cultural awakening in the UAE and the Arab world. When children are encouraged to read, and when a society initiates this attitude, it becomes a habit.

Arabic in modern tech

The future of Arabic’s role in technology is bright.

Now, children can learn about the world in Arabic through a mobile phone or tablet. A newly-launched application called Abjadiyat provides an intensive Arabic language curriculum for kids from ages 2 to 8, where they can learn about mathematics, sciences and morals. Children can also experience a holistic educational experience through their own learning path while their teachers and parents can view detailed reports on their performance – all in Arabic.

Though many are worried about the state of the Arabic language, the future is bright. Aside from celebrating the World Arabic Language day, many initiatives and events are finding their way into our everyday lives, encouraging non-Arabs to learn Arabic, and encouraging Arabs to celebrate their language, heritage, and culture.
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