On 23 October, the Consultative Committee of UNESCO’s Arabia Plan, which seeks to increase understanding of Arab culture globally, decided to incorporate World Arabic Language Day as a key activity in its working plan. Celebrated for the first time in 2012, World Arabic Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO’s Executive Board during its 190th session. The initiative seeks to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity, as well as celebrate Arabic language’s role in and contribution to the safeguarding and dissemination of human civilization and culture.
The choice of 18 December marks the day on which the UN General Assembly designated Arabic as the sixth official language of United Nations organizations in 1973.
UNESCO's Arabia Plan is intended to “promote a framework in which Arab countries develop their cultural heritage, bridging the past and present with a particular focus on the future”. It helps Arab culture to master and develop the new information, communication and computer technologies in the service of modern culture, all the while maintaining the integrity of traditional Arab heritage.
H.E. Mr Ziad Aldrees, who is the Chairman of the Consultative Committee and also Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO, said that the main focus of World Arabic Language Day this year will be “the role of the media in strengthening the Arabic language”. Top media professionals, experts, linguists, diplomats and researchers, hailing from the Arab region and also globally, will attend a series of seminars devoted to this subject at UNESCO headquarters on 18 December.
The seminars devoted to this day will focus on the following themes:
- Is news media in Arabic (ie: Al Jazeera, BBC Arabic, France 24 Arabic, among others) helping to spread the Arabic language outside the Arab world?
- What are the motivations for launching international news channels in Arabic?
- Does the traditional media affect the usage of language on social media, especially by Arab youth?
Mr Aldrees urges cultural and educational institutions, as well as media organizations, in the Arab world to prepare for this occasion, and to promote Arabic language and culture.