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Being in the UAE for 14 long years, I have always wanted to learn the local language, Arabic. Being Muslim, I wanted to learn it because Arabic is the language of the Quran. Moreover, I think it is important and helpful to know the language of the land you reside in.

But, I couldn’t learn it fluently for some reason. A major reason for this was the dominance of English and how things are easily done in English. After settling down in the UAE, I always had this question in mind: How many people here are expatriates? And how many have put in the effort to learn this local language? Learning Arabic could be the first step in accepting the UAE wholeheartedly. It can also be beneficial in many ways.

I had the opportunity to do many things and learn new activities. So I thought of giving the language a try and joined a summer camp to learn Arabic. Nearing the age of 40, when I went for my first class, to my complete surprise I saw that there were only six students in the room. There were two women my age, a young boy who was seven, and two other boys, both 10 years old. I didn’t know that Arabic was one of top ten most widely spoken languages in the world.

We started with basic greetings like “marhaban”, which means ‘hello’; “kaifa haluk”, which means ‘how are you’ and more.

We studied the history of Arabic, on the first day they taught us about the Arabic language and its origin. And then we started understanding grammar - verbs, nouns and plurals. Two more people joined us and we were now a class of eight. With lots of fun and learning, our Arabic camp came to an end. We did received a certificate, which left me with a lot of pride. I was happy I thought out of the box and did something that inspired my daughter, my community, and me. It made me want to continue what I started, no matter how much time it demands. I am sure this small step would take me a long way. I have personally decided that I will continue learning Arabic. It will help me master a new language and add to my skill set. I request people living in the country to learn the language and give it some thought. It will be our way of paying respect to the UAE.

- The reader is a resident of Abu Dhabi