Monday 18 December marked the United Nations World Arabic Language Day, an annual tribute to Arabic language and culture.
Celebrated in many Arabic nations and by Arabic diasporas worldwide, this year’s theme was “Arabic: The Language of Poetry and Arts” and was organized by the UN body for language, in conjunction with the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Foundation Program for the Arabic Language, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
According to UNESCO, this year’s commemoration aimed to “bring together researchers, academics, youth, and heads of international institutions,” featuring discussions on the Arabic language’s “influence on shaping knowledge, societal transformations through poetry, and its impact on the arts, while fostering cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.”
Celebrations began with speeches featuring Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO Gabriela Ramos, Saudi ambassador to France and the Principality of Monaco and Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom to UNESCO Fahad bin Mayouf Al-Ruwaili, and Saleh Al-Khulaifi, director general of the Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud charitable foundation.
The roundtables at the Paris event each featured their own topics of discussion around the themes:
- Philosophy and Poetry: The Contribution of Arabic Poetry to Knowledge Shaping and Social Transformations
- Arabic Language and Arts: Broadening Scopes of Cultural Diversity
- Arab Latinos!: The Arabic Imprint in Latin America and the Caribbean
Looking back, UNESCO reflects “On 18 December 2012, UNESCO celebrated the World Arabic Language Day for the first time. Since then, this annual date has been dedicated to highlighting Arabic’s legacy and immense contribution to human civilization, and recognizing its valuable contribution to intercultural dialogue and its capacity to enrich cultural diversity and strengthen social cohesion.”
World Arabic Language Day was established in 2010 and this year’s global event coincided with the 50th anniversary of the UN’s official adoption of the Arabic language. One of the six official languages, Arabic is spoken by over 450 million people across the world and is of specific importance to the global Muslim community.