Expatriates need to learn Arabic
Why we have to protect the language
IT’S absolutely essential for expatriates to learn to speak Arabic in Saudi Arabia. As we report today, there are clearly increased job and career prospects for those who are fluent in Arabic as compared with those who are not. It is obvious that those who can communicate sufficiently in Arabic are thus able to work better and more efficiently with their Saudi colleagues.
Of course, there are many foreigners who do not speak a word of Arabic and probably don’t pick up the language because they don’t have to. This is because English has become the preeminent language around the world these days.Many expatriates are also reluctant to speak the language. Anecdotal evidence abounds how many expatriates spend more than a decade in this country, yet cannot hold a decent conversation with an Arab in his or her mother tongue. Expatriates also complain that there are not many good courses around the country for them to attend. It is easy to find many English language courses for locals, but not many courses for the eight million or so expatriates. There is another important reason for protecting and promoting Arabic. For the many millions of Muslim expatriates working in the country, this is their liturgical language, the language Almighty Allah used to reveal the Holy Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
So we welcome the recent move by the Saudi authorities to protect Arabic as much as possible. This includes the decision that all signs must be written predominantly in Arabic, with English in smaller letters. This is essential in our globalized world, where indigenous languages are increasingly under threat.
It is the duty of Muslims to keep this language alive and not let it go the way of other liturgical languages. At present Arabic is spoken by over 250 million people in 24 countries around the world. But we should not take this situation for granted.