Monday, 10 March 2008

UAE makes Arabic official language

UAE makes Arabic official language
By Duraid Al Baik, Foreign Editor GULF NEWS Published: March 10, 2008, 00:32

Dubai: The government on Sunday decided to use Arabic as the official language in all federal authorities and establishments.

The move was hailed by UAE intellectuals who called on local governments and private institutions to follow suit.

Dr Ebtisam Al Kitbi, Professor of Political Science at the UAE University in Al Ain, said the long overdue move was a step in the right direction in emphasising the national identity. He urged the government to follow up on its implementation.

Al Kitbi said the move will enhance the presence of Arab speaking people in labour market and restore the national identity," she said.

She said the decision is in harmony with the UAE constitution, which states that the language of the land is Arabic without exception.

"To my knowledge, there is no nation that allows an invasion of foreign languages in government institutions the way we did in the UAE. The move will correct the imbalance," she said.

"See countries like Germany, France and Japan. People there use foreign languages, but you will never see them in the work place other than their national languages. English is widely used in the government in the UAE and this is unacceptable," she said.

Ali Abdul Kadir Al Khalaf, secretary-general of the Sharjah-based Arabic Language Protection Association (ALPA), said that he and his colleagues in ALPA have been working working for nearly 10 years to enhance the use of Arabic in the country.

"The government decision is just one step forward. We are looking to see similar commitments by governments in the various emirates and the business sector," Al Khalaf said.

He said ALPA is waiting for stronger moves by the government to emphasise the national identity in 2008.

"The language decision was just an implementation of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's initiative to endorse the current year as the year of national identity," he said.

Chaired by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Cabinet also approved an agreement between the UAE and France to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

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