World Arabic Language Day 2017: focus on new technologies

22 December 2017

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© UNESCO / Nora Houguenade

In collaboration with the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and within the context of the partnership with the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Foundation, UNESCO organized, on 18 December at its Headquarters in Paris, a two-day event to mark the celebration of World Arabic language Day.

The events acknowledged the Arabic language’s immense contribution to science and culture, including philosophy and the arts. With more than 290 million native speakers, and millions of others gaining some level of fluency, it is one of the five most spoken languages in the world.

In her opening statement, Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, emphasized the linguistic role in intercultural dialogue and achieving peace. “Languages both reflect and shape the social identities and the values of communities, there can’t be lasting peace without cultural diversity, and there is no diversity without linguistic diversity,” said the Director-General.

The theme for World Arabic Language Day 2017, 'The Arabic Language and New Technologies', was an open invitation to the participants and decision makers to reflect on best practices to promote the Arabic language in the digital world and the technology platforms.

A two-day roundtable featured ministers, key linguistic experts and heads of academic institutions. Major challenges facing the Arabic language nowadays were discussed.  In particular, the need to keep pace with technology both for dissemination of Arabic and adopting new teaching methods. Other challenges identified included involving the younger generations in efforts made to save the authenticity of classical Arabic and the need for coordination between the educational institutions across the Arabic World.

The two-day event was concluded with an Oriental Jazz concert by Naseer Shamma, renowned Iraqi composer, oud virtuoso and UNESCO Artist for Peace, at UNESCO Headquarters, to promote interreligious dialogue and peace. He was accompanied by Amine Bouhafa (Piano), Jorge Bezeera (Percussion), and Ali Shaker (Zither).