World Arabic Language Day - photo courtesy of Wikimedia World Arabic Language Day - photo courtesy of Wikimedia

More than a letter: Egypt celebrates World Arabic Language Day

Wed, Dec. 20, 2017
CAIRO – 20 December 2017: Every year, a number of cultural and linguistic initiatives in Cairo come together to organize the schedule for World Arabic Language Day through an event called “Arabic Language Week” through diverse contributions of art forms produced in Arabic. Arabic Language Week is organized through collaborative efforts by independent initiatives that carried out their activities separately in a number of venues under the same vision.

Activities relevant to World Arabic Language Day were officially launched at “Beit Al Sehemy” (El-Sehemy House) in Moez Street in old Cairo on Monday.

The program included an introductory discussion on Arabic Language Week and its significance, a presentation of the participating initiatives within the Week, and a creative segment presented by “Rowaah” (Storytellers) which is an an Egyptian Arabic storytelling podcast initiative.

There were two lectures relating to the role and significance of Arabic language. The first, a lecture on the role of the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo that was conducted by Tharwat Abdel-Samei Mohamed, a former department manager at the Academy and the current Undersecretary representative of the Academy. While the latter discussed the technicalities of Arabic language and its impact on the future of other language studies . The second lecture is conducted by Ayman Abdel-Raheem, a Mechatronics engineer and researcher in the Department of Linguistics at Dar-Al-Ulum.

The event concluded with an open discussion on the role of civil society in protecting Arabic language and how it is used in Egypt. Participants in the discussion included representatives of various Arabic language-related initiatives: “Rowaah” and “Ekteb Sa7” (Write Correctly) which is an initiative providing writing services, workshops, and resources, electronically and analog.

Other participants include “Nahw w Sarf” (Grammar and Communication) which provides Arabic writing lectures and lessons, “Ida2at” (Lights) an Arabic language analytical journalism website, “Rqiim” (Numbered) an Arabic language writing website that publishes articles dealing with topics ranging from literature to social issues to the sciences, and “Sa7a7 Lo3’atak” (Correct your Language), a consultancy initiative for language services.

The event was followed by another Arabic Language Week at the Misr Public Library that included a range of initiatives and ideas created that sought to preserve the usage and expression of the Arabic language in Egypt. These initiatives do not only work on promoting the usage of the language, but also develop new and creative channels for communication in Arabic language in the modern world.

The Arabic language is often dubbed “Language of the Arabic alphabet ‘Dhad’”, as Arabic is the only language that employs the sound of that letter. This label of the Arabic language is not the center of focus anymore, because the initiatives have played a more significant role in promoting a diverse and unique understanding of Arabic language. Their work is a testament to the people who speak the language and use it for any form of expression, and a way to remember the identity of Arabic prose and poetry.

Issues of identity are often addressed in discussions of World Arabic Language Day that were carried out on Monday at different events in the governorate of Benha. The discussions tackled the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.

Young Men’s Muslim Association, an international organization established in 1926 and is known for working on developing the intellectual and artistic capacities of young Muslim men, have carried out a conference celebrating Arabic Language Week entitled “Promote your language, it becomes your identity”, that is formed in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

The conference brought up the issue of the education of language in schools and the unjustified presence of foreign language merged in daily spoken Arabic language , and discussed solutions and ideas for restoring the cultural significance and influence of the Arabic language on Egyptian society, and ultimately to the rest of the Arab-speaking world.

Events organized in light of Arabic Language Week still resume in Cairo featuring Chefchaoun, a venue in Dokki that will be hosting a storytelling session entitled “Describing my Journeys in the Maghreb” (which refers to Morocco, Libya, Algeria, and Tunisia among other countries) by the writer Ahmed Abou Khalil on Wednesday. Abou Khalil is also the editor in chief of the initiative “Ida2at” and the founder of “Rowaah”.

The session will be conducted in full traditional Arabic “Rowaah” will be returning for another event at the Misr Public Library on Thursday to feature informative and exploratory sessions about Arabic language accompanied with a number of performances and creative presentations members of “Rowaah” and a guest appearance by the poet Ihab Al-Beshbeeshy.

Al-Beshbeeshy is a BA graduate of electronic engineering and a Masters of Nuclear Physics. His work and passion resemble the deep influence of Arabic language and its integration in all aspects of knowledge and creation.

This year’s Arabic Language Week that celebrates World Arabic Language Day comes during a critical time for the Arabic language, in which issues of identity, expression, freedom, and communication are discussed in efforts to find resolutions among Egyptian people. The involvement and intertwining of varied initiatives for this movement reflect the capacity of the Arabic language to create connections to all areas of life in Egypt.


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