UAE makes full-on effort to preserve Arabic - GulfToday

UAE makes full-on effort to preserve Arabic

Sheikh Mohammed

Sheikh Mohammed during a cultural event at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. File/Wam

In the UAE, love for Arabic is alive and well, and not just among those who are Arabs. Those who do not speak the language have also taken a liking to it. In this respect, it is noteworthy that the Arabic Language Academy in Sharjah (ALA)’s Arabic Language Centre is doing a wonderful job of promoting the language among non-native speakers from across the world.

Through concerted efforts to promote Arabic among non-Arabs, the Academy seeks to position Arabic as a global language and emphasise its instrumental role in furthering the emirate’s cultural project.

Since its inception in 2018, the Arabic Language Centre has celebrated the graduation of more than 100 students from countries like the Philippines, India, Pakistan, the UK including Scotland and England, the US, Germany, Mauritius, China, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Iran, and South Korea.

After-school programmes in which literacy is a component, offer the potential to provide Arabic language learners with much needed support, not just academically, but socially and culturally as well.

Even Lughati, the Sharjah-based initiative, has been supporting learning Arabic, but via digital platforms across the emirate’s government schools since 2013. It recently launched two final phases (fifth and sixth), targeting 3,106 Grade 4 students from 31 government schools and 2,828 Grade 5 students from 40 government schools in Sharjah and the Eastern Region, apart from 269 teachers.

Building on the success of the previous four phases, the initiative has distributed tablets among about 25,000 students and 1,000 teachers from 80 schools so far in both Sharjah city and the Eastern Region.

Owing to the virus pandemic, children can learn Arabic in an interactive and fun way using the latest technology, from the safety and comfort of their homes. The tablets are equipped with the updated version of ‘Horouf’, a smart application developed by Horouf Educational Publishing – a subsidiary of Kalimat Publishing Group, that aids students in accessing information provided by the Ministry of Education.  

Last year, heralding a new era for the Arabic language lexicon, Sharjah embarked on a landmark project to chronicle 17 centuries of development in the Arabic language spanning five distinct time periods. The Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language is a monumental undertaking that will offer unparalleled insight into the world’s fifth most widely spoken language and serve as a linguistic resource for researchers, academia, linguists and students worldwide.

The emirate’s cultural movement conceived by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, had its roots in his love of the Arabic language, and the Arab and Islamic identity. He pointed out that Sharjah’s cultural initiatives and projects seek to leverage the advances made by Arab culture and showcase it to the world.

According to the British Council, Arabic is the official language of the 22 countries that form the Arab League. There are more than 300 million Arabic speakers across the world, though they predominantly live in the region stretching across the Middle East and North Africa. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations (UN).

The Arabic script is widely used in art through calligraphy and it is now common to see more modern and contemporary Arabic art being produced; some of it uses a fusion of calligraphy and graffiti, known as ‘calligraffiti’.

Arabic poetry, in particular, carries sufficient weightage. In 2019, His Highness emphasised the role poetry plays in preserving Arab culture and heritage, during a meeting with various directors who lead “houses of poetry” across the Arab world.

His Highness emphasised the need to pay significant attention to preserving the Arabic language, whose rich vocabulary constitutes a major tool for poets. He also noted the need to develop educational curricula that encourage and engage student learning of the Arabic language.

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