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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum signing the UAE Declaration on the Arabic Language on Sunday at the Arabic Language Summit at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Twitter/@HHShkMohd

Dubai: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday attended the first edition of the Arabic Language Summit at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Dubai: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday launched the UAE Declaration of Arabic Language in the UAE Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The declaration was introduced in the presence of the Arab Ministers of Culture to mark the World Arabic Language Day, and in parallel with the 22nd session of the Conference of Ministers Responsible for Cultural Affairs in the Arab World.

The two-day summit kicked off at Expo’s Dubai Exhibition Centre under the theme ‘Bridging Cultures. Connecting Civilizations’.

Tweeting on the occasion, Sheikh Mohammed said: “Accompanied by the Secretary-General of Arab League and Arab Ministers of Culture, I attended the Arabic language summit at the Dubai Expo, which is organised by the Ministry of Culture and Youth in the country. Arabic language deserves many summits given it its beauty, comprehensiveness.”

UAE declaration

He added: “I also witnessed the signing of the UAE Declaration on the Arabic Language. We declare our commitment to it as it is the language of our identity, culture and sciences.”

UAE declaration

The declaration was launched in the presence of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

The event was also attended by Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and Chair of the 22nd session of the Conference of Ministers Responsible for Cultural Affairs in the Arab World; and Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai. 

The UAE Declaration of Arabic Language was signed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid along with Ahmed Abul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Mohamed Ould Amar, Director-General of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO), and Noura Al Kaabi. The declaration aims to draw out a unified roadmap for various institutions in Arab countries.

Hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Youth, the summit is attended by VIPs, experts and academics to discuss important topics through a series of panel discussions and workshops.

Al Kaabi gave a presentation to Sheikh Mohammed about the UAE Arabic Language Declaration and the efforts of the Ministry of Culture and Youth to preserve Arabic and enhance its presence internationally.

Al Kaabi said, "The first edition of the report on the Status and Future of the Arabic Language revealed the need for greater cooperation and better coordination between Arab nations through proper language planning and joint Arab action. Today we are taking an important step in that direction to implement the recommendations of the report by launching the UAE Arabic Language Declaration, which represents a comprehensive roadmap covering all areas related to the Arabic language."

She added, "The UAE Arabic Language Declaration is a reference for officials in Arab countries to launch initiatives and projects that preserve the Arabic language, enhance its presence globally and encourage its use among future generations. It also promotes the use of Arabic in the digital space, and associated industries while encouraging the use of technology in education and the spread of the Arabic language."

Last year, the Ministry of Culture and Youth launched a study into the status and future of the Arabic language to compile a report with the participation of 15 media organisations, 10 language universities and 18 universities around the world; 65 educational institutions from around the world contributed to the report.

Keeping pace with the times

Participants in a dialogue session entitled ‘National Policies for the Arabic Language’ stressed the importance of collaborations to develop strategies and policies that achieve practical results in making the Arabic language a renewable language and keeping pace with the requirements of the times.

Speakers at the session included Dr Salem bin Muhammad Al Malik, Director General of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Ali bin Tamim, President of the Abu Dhabi Centre for the Arabic Language, Dr Ibrahim bin Muhammad Abanmi, Advisor to the King Salman International Complex for the Arabic language, Dr Kamel Abdel Jalil, Secretary-General of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters in Kuwait, and Ambassador Khaled Fath Al-Rahman, Supervisor of the Partnerships and International Cooperation Sector, Director of Civilization Dialogue at ISESCO.

Dr Al Malik said: “It is incumbent upon us, as specialists in the Arabic language, to adopt a language policy to bring it into the world and foresee its future for the younger generations.”

Promoting Arabic

Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), part of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Culture and Youth at the summit.

The MoU aims to align all local and federal entities in the UAE to develop projects and initiatives that expand the use of the Arabic language. The agreement was signed by Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth and ALC Chairman Dr Ali bin Tamim.

The MoU will see the two entities coordinate efforts to support teaching and learning the Arabic language; design and implement research projects; and collaborate more closely to compile and issue the UAE National Reading Index, in collaboration with other relevant entities.

Joint committee

The agreement also called for the formation of a joint committee to propose policies and legislation before the Advisory Council for the Arabic Language – a subsidiary of the Prime Minister’s Office and the competent authority to discuss such policies and support efforts to guard the advancements made by the Arabic language. The council is tasked with coordinating federal entities and private institutions in the emirate.

Furthermore, the centre and the ministry will work together to design and support the Arabic Language Proficiency Test for both native and non-native speakers.

10 Principles of the UAE Declaration of Arabic Language

1. The Arabic language is intrinsic to our Arab identity. It links us to our history and heritage and reflects the richness and diversity of our society. Standard Arabic and its dialects interact in a unique way, which is a highlight of our civilization, culture, literature and arts. The language is a means of communication and understanding between our people, an expression of the aspirations and dreams of our youth, a voice of their feelings, and a pillar of prosperity of our society and our economy.

2. The second principle is about the teaching and learning of the Arabic language. Develop new methodologies of teaching and learning the language in schools and treat it as a building block for our society and economy. Work with specialised research centres to introduce modern curricula based on international best practices. Develop programmes for Arabic language teachers to enhance their skills to teach the language in a scientific way that facilitates its learning and makes it relatable and relevant to new generations.

3. The third principle covers Arabic content. The Declaration emphasised the importance of improving the quality of Arabic content on the Internet as it has huge impact on the development of society. Investing in digital publishing institutions, adopting sustainable and viable business models in collaboration with governments and knowledge institutions and providing Arab users with useful and reliable content that helps them in their lives and work.

4. The fourth principle is Arabic language technology. The future requires a digital infrastructure that incorporates the use of Arabic in technology application. This will be achieved by cooperation between research centres and companies and by investing in artificial intelligence, natural language processing, machine learning models and linguistic thesaurus to build a comprehensive linguistic system that covers all aspects of this diverse language.

5. The fifth principle is about the Industries related to the Arabic language. Education, media and publishing are key partners of policy makers and economists in promoting the use of the Arabic language. There is a need to introduce developmental grants and build a sophisticated investment framework where intellectual property rights are applied to counter piracy and encourage the role of private institutions in business development, distribution and marketing of these models.

6. The sixth principle deals with the translation services. Translation has a key role in the transfer, localisation and distribution of knowledge and intercultural communication. It enriches the Arabic language with new expressions, compositions and terms influencing society, economy, education and the media. The development and investment in translation services for Arabic are necessary to enhance its contribution to knowledge on a global level.

7. The seventh principle deals with Arabic and science. The language that was in the past an incubator for research and discovery in its societies, today needs to make modern knowledge available in Arabic in order to forge a bright future for the next generation. Invest in the translation of science and research papers to make them available for our researchers and scientists and translate their work in other languages for the scientific networks to access it in other languages.

8. The eighth principle is Arabic as a global language. Arabic is one of the most widely used languages in the world and a major language of communication and a pillar of our cultural identity. It should be reinforced as a vehicle for cultural exchange, thought and knowledge by building global partnerships with academic institutions and cultural centres and supporting their education efforts globally.

9. The ninth principle is national references and policies. Arab societies need sound linguistic planning, to be drawn by governments and community institutions, to be translated into linguistic policies in the fields of education, media, and public discourse as well as industries related to the Arabic language. Cooperation between research entities in various countries to gauge its progress as per their standards.

10. The tenth and final principle is devoted to the declaration on the future of the Arabic language because Arabic is a language of the grandparents and children, which is bound to develop and change like any other living language. It is the language of religion and heritage, just as it is the language used by millions as a means of communication, a language of economy, art and science. We build on its past as we shape its future with confidence and faith. The aim is to establish modern approaches to counter the challenges and seize the opportunities that the language faces today.

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