World to celebrate Arabic Language, December 18
Every December 18, the world celebrates Arabic Language Day. The day highlights the language’s legacy and immense contribution to humanity. The day is also an opportunity to look into the status and the future of one of the most widely spoken languages across the globe.
With the theme, Arabic Language Academies: Necessity or Luxury? UNESCO will organise a virtual panel discussion to reflect on and discuss the role of language academies in safeguarding and enhancing the Arabic language.
Experts, academics, journalists and representatives of specialised institutions will gather to debate on: The role and the need of language academies as a mean to safeguard and preserve the language, main challenges facing the Arabic language and achievements in reviving its use.
This celebration is organised in collaboration with the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO, in partnership with the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Foundation.
The celebration also resonates with the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), for which UNESCO is the lead UN Agency.
Only last Sunday, December 13, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, extolled the role of the Arabic Language in forging global alliance and unity among disparate racial and ethnic communities and nations.
The minister stated this at an Arabic Language workshop to commemorate the 2020 World Arabic Day, hosted by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Abuja.
He said the language has proven to be a veritable tool in global efforts at the realisation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDGs number 1 to 5 on the eradication of poverty and hunger, promotion of human welfare, as well as quality education and gender equality.
Alhaji Mohammed said in Nigeria in particular, the Arabic Language, which is being spoken by the Shuwa-Arabs, an ethnic stock in the northeast of the country with cultural and historical affiliation to the wider Baqqara tribe in East Africa, serves as the storehouse of the nation’s history and indeed that of Africa,
He said Arabic language experts have continued to provide the intellectual capital that has incentivised development and progress in all spheres of national development.
“In other words, Arabic language is one of the ancient and earliest-known languages to mankind. It is unique and renowned for its rich diglossia, and employed on a daily basis as a medium of spiritual and theistic interactions between God and adherents of Islam, who number 1.8 billion,” he said.
In his remarks, the Ambassador of UAE to Nigeria, Dr. Fahad Al Taffaq, said Arabic Language remains a pillar of cultural diversity for humanity as the language is used daily by more than 400 million people across 25 countries, with over 10, including Nigeria, in Africa.
He said the Embassy has shown continuous commitment to promoting cultural and interfaith tolerance in Nigeria, through various initiatives such as the Essay Competition on tolerance it organized for secondary school students in Abuja, the UAE-Nigeria Cultural and Arts Exhibition it hosted in Lagos this year and the Interfaith Tolerance Dialogue it organized for religious and cultural leaders.
The World Arabic Language Day featured a paper presentation by the Director, Nigerian Centre for Arabic Research, Prof. Elkhidiru Abdul Baaq Mohammed, and Dr. Tahir Fayez Abdelaal of the Faculty of Art, University of Abuja.
UN Languages Days aim to promote and celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity, as well as the equality of all official languages used in the organisation and its agencies: Arabic (18 December), Chinese (12 November), English (23). April), French (20 March), Russian (6 June) and Spanish (12 October).