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For God’s sake, what is The Yard?

People question that if they are in an Arab land why then are places, buildings and locations given English names?

The Dubai skyline
Image Credit: Gulf News Archive
The Dubai skyline. New destinations have opened up in Dubai, but many of them have English names.
Gulf News

There is a new hangout in town — the latest in a series of cool places to chill in Dubai. And it has a very cool name. It’s called THE YARD. Yes. It has been named The Yard.

The meaning of the word yard may be known to you, but to one of my friends it is an alien word. He asked me what it means. I answered I don’t know. The word yard in the Oxford dictionary is defined as thus:

•   A unit of linear measure equal to three feet.
•   A cylindrical spar, tapering to each end, slung across a ship’s mast for a sail to hang from
•   One hundred dollars
•   The garden of a house
•   A house and the land attached
•   A store for wood
•   A piece of uncultivated ground

So, what does the name The Yard, this latest hangout, imply? I only know one other yard — The Scotland Yard. Does that make sense to you, I asked my friend. His jaw dropped, his eyes glazed over. He stared at me in wonderment.

People question that if they are in an Arab land why then are places, buildings and locations given English names? Here are a few examples: Box Park, The Walk, City Walk, La Mer, The Boardwalk, The Beach, The Rise and Bay Avenue.

Don’t these words have an Arabic equivalent? I am a hundred per cent sure there are Arabic words because our language is vast and lucid.

These private enterprises and government bodies that give such fancy English names should stretch their imagination a bit and conjure up Arabic names instead. After all, not only do we live in an Arab country, but the government makes every effort to promote the Arabic language.

The Year of Reading was held a couple of years ago to promote the habit of reading and the focus was on Arabic books.

The curricula in schools place great emphasis on Arabic. Arab and non-Arab students must learn the language in schools. We have cultural organisations across the nation that toil to propagate our language and our cultures. And there are several government initiatives to protect and promote Arabic.

Why then in God’s name do some people ignore this fact? That we are in an Arab country and we do have a very distinct language and culture?

These places must be given Arabic names. The Arabic language and Arabic names will be soon absorbed and adopted by all residents. It will become a habit. Take for example the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai. It has given its various services Arabic names such as Salik, Nol and Wojhati. And who doesn’t know Mulkiya by now? Then we have Ejari and Makani. Dubai Municipality launched the Makani system to identify homes and all residents are now familiar with the name.

The UAE is home to people from hundreds of countries. We have Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Britons, Americans, Australians, Africans and South Africans ... living here. In fact, there are people of more than 180 nationalities in the UAE. We have landmarks such as Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah, Bab Al Shams and Al Qasba to name just a few. Everyone living and working in the UAE is familiar with these names. They have become an integral part of the everyday lives of people here.

So why don’t we use this unique, this golden opportunity, to spread our language and our culture? Where else in the world will you find such a diverse group of people leading such a cohesive life, integrated in the UAE?

So, do we really need names such as The Yard?

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