The Center for Arab Unity Studies held a digital seminar via Zoom and its Facebook page on the Arabic Language and Questions of Identity and Development, on Wednesday August 24, 2022. Luna AbuSweireh, Director-General of the Center, introduced the topic by explaining its importance, saying that “The Arabic language has been subjected to successive setbacks that coincided with the escalation of the attack on the Arab nation as an entity, land and identity.” she added that “our language plays a crucial role in strengthening our identity and motivating and activating the reservoirs of thinking.” The webinar was moderated by Dr. Obada Kasser- researcher at the Center, and the three main speakers were Dr. Abdullah Al-Baridi, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Scientific Supervisor of the PhD Program at Qassim University in Saudi Arabia; Dr. Mohamed Marayati, Electronics Engineer, Ph.D. in Physics, and Regional Adviser and Expert in Science and Technology for Sustainable Development at the United Nations; and Dr. Basma Dajani, Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the College of Islamic Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar and the College of Literature at the University of Jordan.

Dr. Obada Kasser, moderator of the webinar, explained that “the webinar attempts to raise the status of the Arabic language and to generalize it as part of the liberation movement, renaissance, and the unification of the nation in the face of fragmentation, and the predominance of local dialects and Modern Communication means.”

In his intervention, Dr. Abdullah Al-Baridi considered “Arabic language is the basis of any Arab’s  self-awareness. The Arab is the knowing self, and the Language is the known self.” And Al-Baridi refused to blame linguistic policies and politicians alone for neglecting the language. He gave many examples in which academics and individuals bear the absolute responsibility for neglecting it, calling for “an elitist and societal backer that matures the Arabic language policy and pushes it to become a part of the renaissance solution.”

The second topic of the webinar was about the economic and developmental backbone of Arabic language policies. Dr. Muhammad Marayati explained the economic dimension of the Arabic language, “which is almost missing in our Arab societies,” according to his opinion. Language, according to Marayati is a soft power, an economic tool and an economic sector in itself, explaining that “the economists consider language in the economy as money, the latter facilitating the exchange of goods, and language facilitating the exchange of the intangible economy.”

And about the role of Arabic language in the civilizational and cultural renewal and the Renaissance project, Dr. Basma Al-Dajani considered that the demand for learning the Arabic language is on the rise globally despite all that it have faced during the past century. Dajani called for “improving the production of our single and unified Arabic language and urging its education with attractive and sound curricula.” Regarding the students’ awareness of the value, mastery and sustainability of their mother tongue – Standard and its dialects, Dajani considered that it is a responsibility that falls first on the family, then the community, then school and university education and government.

The webinar included a large number of interventions and comments that unanimously agreed on its importance. Some participants called for a review of school curricula since kindergarten, and urged the need to introduce the younger generations to the strength and importance of their language. In conclusion, AbuSweireh called for “the necessity of linking the importance of language and its role to the development policies of any country in general,” saying that “protecting the Arabic language is a must to protect the nation.”

You may watch the webinar on our You Tube channel

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