Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, inaugurated the first edition of the Arabic Language Summit on Tuesday, December 20, 2022. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Youth in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) the two-day Summit is being held at Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office.
Over 30 Intellectuals, writers and academics from around the world are participating in this year’s edition of the Arabic Language Summit to share insights on a wide range of issues facing the language. The Arabic Language Academy in Damascus, the oldest Arabic language academy in the world, is the guest of honour at the event for its outstanding efforts in supporting, protecting and preserving the language, and developing it as the language of science and knowledge. The Summit also celebrates the Alexandria Library as the central figure at the event.
HE Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui Minister of State for Youth, HE Hasan Nazem, Iraqi Minister of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities, HE Mubarak Al Nakhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Youth, HE Dr. Ali bin Tamim Chairman of ALC, Saeed Hamdan Al Tinaiji Acting Executive Director of ALC, and other important figures were among the personalities who attended the opening session.
In a presentation during the opening session, Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth said that various cultural authorities in the UAE are focused on the protection and advancement of the Arabic language and treat it as a national priority. This approach reflects the vision of the country's leadership, who believe that the Arabic language is a treasure of human knowledge and thought.
"We proudly recall the achievements of the United Arab Emirates in elevating the status and future of Arabic, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. His Highness had stressed that "working for the preservation of the Arabic language is a national value that reinforces our identity and historical roots as we endeavour to implement the UAE’s vision for the year 2021.”
“The UAE is working towards becoming a centre of excellence for the Arabic language, which led to the Arabic Language Charter. The advisory board for advancing the Arabic language was established in 2012. The report on the Status and Future of the Arabic Language was released in 2021, and our country also held the inaugural edition of the Arabic Language Summit at Expo 2020 Dubai in December last year. The summit was attended by the representatives and Ministers of Culture from 22 Arab League states that constituted the first official inter-governmental event in the Arab world and internationally."
Her Excellency continued: "The UAE witnessed the launch of the ‘UAE Declaration for the Arabic Language’ during the inaugural edition of the summit which took place at EXPO 2020 Dubai, with 21 scientific recommendations that formed a mandate to achieve its objectives and followed-up on the feedback to foster joint Arab action in empowering the language, culture and identity.
Her Excellency continued: "Our achievements reflect our focus on Arabic, our love for its aesthetics, and a need to ensure its presence and use as a language for the present and the future. It is the language of our civilization and science. An example of our efforts in forging partnership with other cultural institutions for the growth of the Arabic language is the launch of the Zai Centre at Zayed University, a first-of-its-kind research centre focused on Arabic teaching and learning, the first academic institution in the UAE to look at how Arabic is taught around the world."
HE added that “We are also developing a new strategy to be launched next year to stimulate the literature and publishing sector in the UAE. The idea is to streamline literature and publishing by strengthening legislation to protect copyright and intellectual property rights of authors and publishers. We shall analyse the current and future needs of the sector to streamline initiatives, programmes and literary achievements of Emiratis. These will be included in educational curricula, and help us prepare a digital database for local literary works followed by an executive report that includes key strengths, challenges, and opportunities for the sector. "
His Excellency Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: "This summit, which is part of the UAE’s and Abu Dhabi’s initiatives to serve the Arabic language, reaffirms the UAE's position as a cultural capital and a hub for researchers and scholars working in the field of Arabic language. Thanks to the vision of our Leadership, the UAE is working hard to remove any obstacles in the way of unleashing the true potential of Arabic, which has been contributing to the development and growth of Arab societies and has been a major part of its cultural journey."
His Excellency added: "The slogan of this session is a logical extension of what was presented during the inaugural edition, as the general leads to the specific, and self-understanding becomes clearer within the framework of understanding the wider world.
“The Arabic Language Summit coincides with the International Arabic Language Day. On these two occasions, we’d like to take the opportunity to announce the launch of the report, ‘Studying Arabic Language Curricula in the Arab World - Present Experiences and Future Prospects’ which reflects on two years of effort in the field of education, school curricula, in particular, being a top priority in the efforts to empower and enhance Arabic.
The report, which was prepared by international researchers and experts from Australia, China, the United States of America, Singapore, South Africa and Ireland, examines Arabic language teaching curricula in five Arab countries, namely the UAE, Jordan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and proposes a frame of reference for designing a new generation of Arabic language curricula, in a way that meets the needs of present-day teachers and learners. These new teaching methodologies will be the focus of presentation and discussion during the Summit this year, and address the topics of the Arabic language Cultural Retreat, to enrich the experience and promote its benefits.
In a statement, His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud Al-S. Dr. Al-S.D., President of the Arabic Language Academy in Damascus, said: "Arabism is not an ethnic or racial concept, but rather a unified cultural identity that plays the role of incubator, and preserver of its heritage. It represents a common civilized framework based on moral and human values. The Arabic language connects Arabs to their past and inculcates a sense of belonging and shared heritage among Arab societies. The language also makes a connection of an individual to its nation. Since language is the focus of culture and a tool that articulates our thoughts, it determines the vision of the world and is the most important pillar for forging one’s identity and personality."
His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud Al Sayed praised the efforts of the Ministry of Culture and Youth and the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre in protecting the Arabic language and organising this summit, which will go a long way in encouraging the new generation to adopt it.
During the ceremony, Her Excellency honoured the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, by giving an award to Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Zayed for the library’s remarkable contribution and influence on the Arab and international culture.
The summit began with a lyrical segment presented by journalist and writer Dr. Parween Habib, followed by renditions by Emirati singer Rashid Al-Nuaimi, Lebanese musician Walaa Al-Jundi, and Saudi artist Arwa. The artist will perform their rendition of a new poem from the words of the poets Raad Bandar, Omar Anaz, and Khalil Ailabouni. Iraqi singer Kazem El Saher recited the poem by His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai during the inaugural edition of the Summit last year on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai.
The event which has the overarching theme of "Language and Identity Formation", discussed various issues related to the Arabic language, and provided experiences that foresee the future of the language in Arab societies and non-Arabic speaking communities, with the participation of a group of writers, thinkers and academics, most notably the Saudi literary critic Prof. Dr. Abdullah Al-Ghathami, winner of the Cultural Personality of the Year Award for the sixth session of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, participated in a session titled "Arab Language and Identity".
The summit discussed with a group of Arab drama stars, the growing interest in exploring new creative horizons for the Arabic language. Promoting it as the language of the arts especially drama is very relevant considering drama as the most influential creative production and closest to the audience of the Arab region and the world. The session will be moderated by Bahraini poet, critic and media expert Parween Habib, Syrian artist Jamal Suleiman, and from the UAE, artists Samira Ahmed and Ahmed Al Jassmi Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sharjah National Theatre, who will present their future outlook and tackle questions to address the relationship between language and identity. They will discuss mechanisms to deepen the ties of belonging and human identity through drama and arts, in addition to a series of sessions and workshops held during the summit.
The event will be held on the second day of its activities "Summit Retreat", which hosts a group of writers, academics and specialists in the field of Arabic language to discuss many issues of the Arabic language and its consequences, including Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed Al-Sayed, President of the Arabic Language Academy in Damascus, Dr. Abdullah Al-Tobi, President of the Centre for Translation, Arabization and Interest in the Arabic Language in the Sultanate of Oman, Tunisian novelist Dr. Shukri Al-Mabkhout, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Safi Al-Mosteghanemi, Secretary-General of the Sharjah Arabic Language Academy, and other names who highlight Many issues of the Arabic language, whether with regard to its presence in the educational curricula, or enhancing its position among young people and in various fields and contexts of the arts, to discussing the future visions of Arabic language academies, and many issues related to enhancing and consolidating the status and presence of the Arabic language.
The summit will discuss many topics, most notably the recommendations issued in the report "The State and Future of the Arabic Language" issued by the Ministry of Culture and Youth in December 2021, which represents a framework for consolidating the Arabic language as a language of science, knowledge and identity. The report also constitutes the cornerstone of the National Agenda for the Arabic Language and enlists its objectives and priorities associated with the centennial celebrations of the UAE.
The summit is an international platform that serves to promote and enhance the use of the Arabic language in literature and arts. It provides a new approach that helps develop methods of using the Arabic language and empowering it as a means of communication and learning, as well as a knowledge and cultural platform that brings together language experts in all fields, to shape the future of Arabic based on an accurate reading of the current challenges.