‘Speak Arabic in public,’ Saudi draft law asks of officials 

Under the proposed law, all Saudi officials are obliged to speak Arabic when they address international forums, local meetings and official gatherings in and outside the Kingdom. (Al Arabiya)

A number of Saudi Shoura Council members and Arabic language specialists have called for implementing the draft Arabic Language Protection Law approved by the council more than a year ago, business daily Al-Eqtisadiah reported on Tuesday.

Under the proposed law, all Saudi officials are obliged to speak Arabic when they address international forums, local meetings and official gatherings in and outside the Kingdom.

It also makes it obligatory for public and private establishments to write their names and correspondence in Arabic.

The draft law would also force international schools in the Kingdom to teach Arabic in their classes. Defending the language, Abdulaziz Khoja, the former minister of culture and information who is a renowned poet, said Arabic is a recognized language in all international forums and in the UN, which has special interpreters for Arabic as well as English, French, German and Russian.

He said: “It is preferable that we always speak in Arabic. It expresses better the ideas and thoughts we want to reflect.”

Shoura Council member Ahmed Al-Zaylaie said he always asks his parliamentarian counterparts to talk to him in Arabic if they know the language, otherwise they should address him through interpreters.

Zaylaie, who is chairman of the council's parliamentarian friendship committee that consists of 12 European and African countries, asked representatives and ambassadors of these countries to use Arabic while addressing him.

He recalled that at a foreign meeting he interrupted the speaker who was talking in English and asked him to use Arabic, even if he had to use an interpreter.

Ibrahim Ismail, a professor in Arabic at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, did not fully agree with obliging officials to speak in Arabic.

He said: “Many of our officials are fluent in English and weak in classical Arabic. They can only speak in the local Saudi dialect, which will not be understandable to other people.”

Hamad Al-Qadi, a former Shoura Council member, said the draft law did not mention any punishment against officials who do not speak in Arabic.

He said if approved, the law would help spread the language and make Saudis “proud of their language, which is the language of the Qur'an.”

A number of Arabic specialists called for setting up an Arabic language complex in the Kingdom, similar to the two already in Egypt and Syria.

This was first published by the Saudi Gazette.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44
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