United Nations (UN)’s Arabic Language Day also known as World Arabic Language Day (WALD) is annually observed across the globe on December 18 to honour the language and the cultural diversity of the Middle Eastern region.
- The day highlights Arabic’s legacy and immense contribution to humanity.
The theme of Arabic Language Day 2022 is “The Contribution of the Arabic Language to Human Civilization and Culture”.
i. Arabic Language Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (190 EX/48) in 2010 to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity, and to promote equal use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organisation.
ii. The 1st Arabic Language Day was observed on 18th December 2012.
iii. On 19th February 2010, the United Nations Department of Public Information observed the World Day of the 6 official languages under the reference number OBV/853 (PI/1926).
- It is observed before the annual celebration of International Mother Language Day, which is observed on February 21.
Why December 18?
On December 18, 1973, the UN General Assembly(UNGA) officially recognised and adopted resolution 3190 (XXVIII) to include Arabic as one official and the working language of the General Assembly and its Main Committees.
Note: The Department of Public Information chose the dates for the Language Days based on their symbolic or historical value concerning each language.
i. On December 16, 2022, a roundtable discussion was conducted at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris to explore Arabic’s significant contributions to the cultural and linguistic diversity of humanity and knowledge creation.
ii. The celebration is organized in association with the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Foundation and the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO.
i. Arabic has 1st emerged in the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula and is a member of the Semitic family of languages which also includes Hebrew and Aramaic.
ii. The Arabic Language is spoken in North Africa, most of the Arabian Peninsula, and other parts of the Middle East. It is the official language of 22 different Countries.
iii. More than 7000 words in the English language are either Arabic or have Arabic roots, including words like cotton, coffee, saffron, tuna, and giraffe.
iv. According to Babbel Magazine, it is the 5th most widely spoken language in the world (315 Million Native Speakers).
v. The 3 categories of Arabic styles: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic and other local styles (Amya or Darja).
vi. Features of 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
vii. A pillar of humanity’s cultural variety is the Arabic language. With more than 400 million users every day, it is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world.
UN Languages Days:
Arabic (18 December); Chinese (12 November); English (23 April); French (20 March); Russian (6 June); and Spanish (12 October).
About the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):
Director-General- Audrey Azoulay
Headquarters- Paris, France
Establishment- 1945 (came into force in 1946)
Members- 193 Members & 11 Associate Members.