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United Nations Arabic Language Day 2019

UN Arabic Language Day also known as World Arabic Language Day (WALD) was originally established by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010 and celebrated every year since 2012.  December 18th is significant to the UN, as this is the day the General Assembly approved Arabic as one of six official languages.

About the Arabic Language

Today we are celebrating the contributions that the Arabic language has brought to humanity. The Arabic language was the first language of:

  • Algebra
  • Astrology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine

Over 7000 words in the English language are either Arabic or derived from Arabic such as; cotton, coffee, saffron, tuna and giraffe.  The Arabic language is complex, and a poetically verbal and written language, spoken by approximately 1.5 billion people around the world, with around 250 million native speakers.  It is the 4th most widely spoken language in the world, a total of 22 countries use Arabic as their official language.  There are three categories of Arabic styles: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic and other local styles (Amya or Darja).  The most common form of written Arabic is the ‘Modern Standard Arabic’ (MSA). MSA is widely used across all Arab countries, as it is an easily transferred style of writing.

In addition to a variety of spoken styles and locales, the Arabic language has a vast writing system.  The main features of the Arabic script:

  • Words are written from right to left
  • Numbers written left to right
  • There are no capital letters
  • Each letter in the Arabic alphabet can have four different forms depending on its position in a word – independent, initial, medial and final forms
  • Letters are always joined in Arabic writing, except in rare cases

How people are celebrating today

Today on December 18th, 2019 the UNESCO has a theme of Arabic Language and Artificial Intelligence (AI).  There will be a round table discussion, held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, where they will discuss the role of AI in promoting and preserving Arabic language, and issues related to the computerization of Arabic language.  The celebration is organized in cooperation with the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Foundation.

We look forward to hearing the feedback on the round table discussion!

How you can celebrate

You can learn a few simple words in Arabic and practice these daily.

English Arabic Pronunciation
Hello مرحباً Marhaba
Thank you شكراً Shukran
You are welcome عفواً Afwan
Please رجاءً Raja’an
Goodbye إلى اللقاء Ilaa alliqa’