Dubai: If Arabic language proficiency of several UAE residents has gone up after this Ramadan, then many of them may want to thank ‘Inspector Fasih’, a language inspector on a popular TV show, played by Ayoub Yusif Al Ali, who is known among Emirati community members as the UAE’s “language corrector”.
His voice has been heard on several TV and radio shows, commercials and events across the UAE. His voice has also been heard during thousands of calls to prayers through adhan. Yet, this Emirati man prefers to be known for his proficiency in Arabic rather than his popular voice that he uses to promote the language.
The 40-year-old wants to “spread the beauty of the Arabic language to the whole world”, and proudly claims that his “heart beats for the beloved Arabic language”.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, says our language needs initiatives, not lectures. And that is exactly what I have been trying to do,” says Al Ali, a recipient of the UAE Pioneers Award from Sheikh Mohammed in 2016 -- the Year of Reading -- for being the best social media personality to promote reading in Arabic language. Al Ali had won the Cairo World Cup for Business and Media 2016 for the TV programme Lisan Al Arab and for Her Majesty, a radio programme promoting Arabic language.
Rise to fame
Born in Dubai in 1981, Al Ali studied civil engineering at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai and got a diploma in 2002. He graduated in 2006 with a BA in Arabic Literature from the College of Islamic and Arabic Studies. A year after his graduation, Al Ali established ‘Track One,’ an audio production company. In 2010, he established ‘Track One Media Training Centre’, where he works as a certified trainer for several training centres and at government departments such as Dubai Municipality and General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) Dubai.
“In my early days, after graduating from the university, I worked in the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai as a preacher and as the imam for Friday prayers. Thanks to Allah for giving me a beautiful voice, I also used to make the call to prayer (adhan) in the masjid,” he said in an interview to Gulf News. “But now, I record adhan for Eid or read short chapters from the holy Quran and post on my Instagram account,” he said.
Al Ali has also worked as a broadcaster on radio and television (Noor Dubai channel and radio, affiliated with Dubai Media Incorporated).
In 2014, he joined the Ministry of Interior at GDRFA Dubai as director of Corporate Communications and Marketing. “In 2016, I went back to Dubai Media Incorporated as a broadcaster on Sama Dubai TV and Noor Dubai Radio,” he added.
This Ramadan, Al Ali appeared as ‘Inspector Fasih’. The meaning of the word ‘Fasih’ is eloquent or fluent. As the name suggests, Inspector Fasih is a linguistic inspector who searches for linguistic errors and corrects people in a dramatic and witty manner — whether it is in daily conversations, meetings or during other activities. Paying more attention to the vocabulary and structure of the Arabic language, the programme presented some of the most important books and scholars of Arabic language and Arabic poetry .
Al Ali has presented many other radio programmes and specialised programmes in the religious field, supporting the teaching of the Arabic language, health, family, economics and competition programmes, the most important of which are: Investor, Noor science, Health Light, Live broadcast, On Ayoub’s Table, Marmas Al Noor, Holy month with Zuhair, After Tarawih, Al Manhal, Challenge Race, Her Majesty, Arabes Tong, and Seconds in Love with Arabic.
“In my view, a person can always learn and will continue to learn no matter how old he becomes,” said Al Ali. Walking the talk, Al Ali took an executive master’s degree in Public Administration from the Mohammed Rashid School of Government Administration, in 2019, and is now pursuing a PhD in Arabic.
No matter where he studied or worked, Al Ali’s mother tongue remained his first love and he literally gave voice to the cause of promoting the language.
“I invested my voice as the presenter of the official events of the UAE. I also worked as a voice actor in radio and television advertisements for local and international organisations.” He also wrote a book, Think About It, which was published by Platinum Book Publishing House. The book explains Arabic language and its importance and corrects linguistic errors. “I am working on finishing its second and third parts soon,” Al Ali revealed.
Why promote Arabic?
Al Ali said: “Firstly, because it is the language of our holy text, the Quran. Secondly, because of the importance of Arabic language in Emirati society as the mirror of its identity.”
He put forward one more reason. “To meet the community’s needs to enhance Arabic by correcting spelling errors and checking billboards of shops and companies to preserve the language and its identity, in addition to preserving the Emirati identity and core values and combating foreign terms that affect the authenticity and spirit of the Arabic language.” No wonder Al Ali is also known as the “language corrector”.
“What motivates me to continue in this field is the dream I had during my university years, to create a project to spread the beauty of Arabic to the whole world and my heart continues to beat for my beloved ‘Arabic language’. This call within me never subsided. I found myself captive to a constant desire to develop my skills linguistically.”
Nurturing a dream
He further said: “My vision and my dream is to be a point of reference for the Arabic language and its study in my community. I am a supporter of it along with the various efforts and initiatives within and outside the UAE, to preserve the language through social media platforms and various radio and television programmes, dealing with the Arabic language and its heritage.”
“It is difficult to prevent the influence of western lifestyles in our country and preserve our identity, heritage and our language. Hence, we must ensure we can teach the beauty of our native language to future generations.”