Dubai: The Arab Thought Foundation announced the start of its initiative “Let’s Rise with Our Language”, that aims to enhance and promote the use of Arabic language, on Sunday morning.

The initiative includes a list of 35 recommendations that were designed by 20 Arabic language intellectuals, scholars and personalities, based on the findings of a two-year research project.

The announcement was made ahead of the foundation’s eleventh annual conference (Fikr11), which is set to start on Monday and end on Tuesday in Dubai.

Fikr11 is held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and is called “Citizens and Government: Future Vision”.

The announcement was made in the presence of Prince Khalid Al Faisal, the President of the Arab Thought Foundation, and head of language academies, senior intellectuals and academics.

Speakers emphasised that the Arabic language is being diminish by the lack of use especially by the youth. They also explained that the Arabic language is not just a language but an identity and its loss is the loss of Arabic identity and memory.

Al Faisal said that years ago people used to blame colonisation and regional dialect on the decline of the Arabic, but now the Arabic language faces a bigger danger, which is the dominance of the west, whether economically or culturally.

“If we just take a look at the internet, people type in the Arabic language but with Latin letters and even numbers and this has spread among the youth, and that makes us yearn for the days when dialects were the problem, as at least the dialects were still Arabic, but now we are faced with the loss of the Arabic language and text,” Al Faisal added.

Dr Ziad Al Dreis, vice-chairman of the executive board at the Unesco, said the board decided to mark December 18 of every year as World Arabic Language Day. The day coincides with the day Arabic was declared one of the six official languages of the UN in 1973.

He said that according to a Unesco report, Arabic is one of the most spreading languages in the world along with Chinese.

Al Dreis said he does not understand why, when a group of Arabs gather, they speak in English. He added that spelling mistakes will not harm the Arabic language but what will actually harm it is the Latinised Arabic that they use online.

Salah Fadl, representative of the Academy of the Arabic Language, Cairo, who was one of the people working on the initiative, said that the initiative is a great step by the Arab Thought Foundation and is just the beginning and that working on the recommendations is a long term plan. The annual Fikr conference brings together intellectuals, decision makers, thinkers, researchers, and representatives of the private sector, as well as civil society and youth along with their international counterparts to discuss the most pressing issues facing the Arab region and the world.