World Arabic Language Day 2020: focus on Arabic Language Academies

23/12/2020

This year’s celebration of World Arabic Language Day comes at an unprecedented time, when the role of languages as an effective communication tool has proven crucial in providing access to reliable and life-saving information. That is why, on this international day, UNESCO celebrated and explored the role of Arabic language academies in preserving and enhancing the use of the language by ensuring its compatibility with the demands of the modern world.

From the discussion in respect to the role of Arabic language academies two key recommendations emerged:

  • digitise the work done by Arabic language academies by developing user-friendly web platforms;
  • promote women’s participation in the work of Arabic language academies and stimulate broader engagement with the youth;

In her opening statement, Ms Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO, emphasized the role of the Arabic language in promoting intercultural dialogue and achieving peace.

As a key component of cultural diversity, the Arabic language and the values it embodies can be a building bridge between people and ideas.

Gabriela Ramos, ADG Social and Human Sciences

© UNESCO

The theme for UNESCO’s headline event in celebration of World Arabic Language Day 2020, "Arabic Language Academies: Necessity or Luxury?", was an open invitation to the participants and decision makers to exchange views on the new horizons of artificial intelligence in promoting and preserving the Arabic language.

H.H. Princess Haifa Al Mogrin, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for UNESCO, highlighted the “urgent need for specialised language academies that would protect the Arabic language and promote approaches to teach and to help use it.”

During the virtual panel discussion, the speakers highlighted the role of academies in teaching and promoting the Arabic language which ensure its continuity and international importance.

Mr. Salih Al Kholaifi, Director-General of Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi Foundation, expressed his hope to “help support the Arabic language academies and give them all the means necessary to do their work.”

Organized in cooperation with the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the support of the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Foundation, the event acknowledged the Arabic language’s immense contribution to science and culture, including philosophy and the arts.

Regional celebrations of World Arabic Language Day were held by UNESCO’s Cairo and Rabat Offices.

In Cairo, UNESCO collaborated with the League of Arab States in organizing a regional celebration of the World Arabic Language Day on 16 December 2020. The virtual event brought together language experts, as well as strong advocates including H.E. Ms. Nabila Makram, Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs of Egypt, who highlighted the recent presidential initiative, “Etkallem Arabi” (speak Arabic), which seeks to safeguard the identity of Egyptians abroad, notably youth.

ICESCO, with the participation of UNESCO’s Rabat Office, organized a virtual event under the theme “Arabic Language: Foresight in a Changing World”.

World Arabic Language Day was widely celebrated by other institutions, for example Arabic Language Week (18-22 December) organized by the Ministry of Culture and Youth of the United Arab Emirates.