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Expo 2020 Dubai: Leaders from Arab nations congregate on World Arabic Language Day – Khaleej Times

Saturday, Dec 18, 2021 | Jumada Al-Uola 14, 1443
Published: Sat 18 Dec 2021, 4:19 PM
Last updated: Sat 18 Dec 2021, 4:57 PM
World leaders from the Arab nations congregated on the Expo 2020 stage to shed light on how the Arabic language has evolved over the centuries, and how it further needs to be nurtured by future generations so that it can continue to thrive.
In celebration of World Arabic Language Day, Expo 2020 Dubai witnessed ‘ The Future of the Arabic Language – A Bridge Between Civilisations’ an event celebrated at the Terra auditorium at the Sustainability District that focused on the Arabic language, culture, and heritage, turning to the hands, hearts and minds of artists, writers, dreamers, and educators.
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The programme brought together the finest minds to inspire a call-to-action to ensure that Arabic continues as the chosen language for over 400 million people.
Dr Ali Bin Abdallah Moussa, Secretary General Arabic Language International Council said, “The language has been preserved for over 5,000 years. It is extremely eloquent, and it has the capability to adapt itself. Thanks to the UAE government for this celebration. This language is a bridge that connects culture and is aligned with Expo’s theme ‘Connecting minds, Creating the future’. Language takes communication to a different level. Arabic civilisation in its golden era spread from the Atlantic to China. It has connected many people. This language is like a nucleus bringing different people together.”
He further explained how the language created a space for dissemination of ideas. If ignored, the language may die its own death.
Moussa highlighted, “Interaction is a great means of collaboration. Diversity is a blessing that helps to build on things. Then translation came in. Translations help in uplifting a language. Translation from Arabic has also helped in the upliftment of the Arabic culture. It generated literature. It created a renaissance and created legacies. We can see the influence of the Arab culture in works like Arabian Nights, Sindbad the Sailor. We need to take it to the future. Otherwise, it will become frigid and secluded. We need to focus on the development of the language, otherwise it will die its own death. The Arabic Renaissance was a great time in the 19th century.”
He also reiterated that it’s important that the younger generation does not undermine its historic relevance and value.
He said, “This language that has influenced the West and the Sciences as well. We need to make sure that it keeps pace with technology and to keeps up with the scientific development. Therefore, translation will remain critical for the upliftment of the Arabic language, and this will enable it to integrate with other disciplines. Arabic language will remain in good shape if we understand its value and try to rejuvenate it. We must give it room to breathe and understand its true potential.”
Narrating her childhood story of how she was fond of writing from left to write, with a greater inclination for English, Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, UAE recalled how her mother identified this early on and realized that she needed to be drawn towards her native language as well.
She said, ”Expo 2020 is the place where minds meet, and cultures integrate. I feel early intervention is imperative. I say it with a great sense of pride that this language has legacy and is very rich. We should tell the world that this language is alive. It is a language that adapts itself. We need to fortify and nourish this language.”
Explaining how languages serve as a bridge between the Arab world and other cultures just as the UAE has so many cultures living here, the Minister further said,
“The government has tried honing the Arabic language by different initiatives like organizing the Reading Challenge and other events. The historical dictionary of Arabic language is another result of the efforts that has been thriving under the patronage of the His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. Our language has faced different challenges, but solutions are available that requires collaboration with different nations. Report on the status and the future of the Arabic language, lists all the challenges experienced by the language. The forthcoming Arabic Language summit will also discuss national policies, how much of the youth uses the language. It will also seek to foster exchanges with other cultures around the world.”
Leaders concurred that celebrating the Arabic language at Expo 2020 has great significance because it implied that the region is integrating with the digital world which is an important aspect of the contemporary age.
Dr Mohamed Ould Amar, Director General ALECSO said, “There is a lack of interest among students in the university to study the language. This integration doesn’t mean that we forget our identity. It’s important to maintain the national identity and preserving the language is part and parcel of it. We must realize that isolation is not the way forward. We must interact with others, and we must ensure that the language also accommodates new other contemporary terminologies. We are the ones who can empower this language. No language can develop unless you give it an outlet to evolve. This language is a great enabler to reclaim the cultural potential and create scholarly products.”
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