How Hindi and Urdu might just take Arabic over in the UAE!

Arabic language is in a huge decline- yes we are talking about that again- and really it is becoming tiresome! The new article I am putting here is taken from the Khaleej Times (online), and it addresses the decline of Arabic in the UAE. There is even a hint that Hindi and Urdu might take over the status of Arabic as a national language, both in terms of the number of speakers and how easy they are to learn and communicate in. Here is the article (without any changes):  


‘Arabic language use on decline in its own lands’ 

 Is Arabic the lingua franca of an Islamic-Arab state of the stature and eminence of the UAE? The spectre of doubt sweeping through the minds of Dr Nasser Shrouf, Editor of Deutsche Welle, the state-owned German TV/Radio and Internet portal in Arabic language has brought forth the answer in the negative. Dr Shrouf, a Syrian national, said he was surprised by the fact that the use of Arabic language is on the decline in its own lands although he did not venture to advance reasons for the plight. Dr Shrouf, who was the chief guest at a dinner reception hosted by Erwin Ganzer, Head of Chancery/Press Affairs of the German embassy in the capital recently, said his Arabic was “showing signs of rust”, as he had a long stint in Germany to develop the online web site for the Arabic programmes of Deutsche Welle, and that he was looking forward to interesting interactive sessions with residents here which may serve in good measure to refresh his knowledge of, and conversational prowess, in his mother tongue. “But I do not find people, including those whose native language is Arabic, conversing in the language,” he said with a lump in his throat.  It is up to the academicians and connoisseurs of Arabic language to examine the cause, he said, referring to students in schools here who have undergone more than a decade of academic exercises, but were unable to even spell out their names in Arabic. “When I return home to file stories on the online Arabic web site of my organisation (, that was created in January this year, I shall make it a point to muse over this dismal state of affairs,” he said. A heartening feature, however, is that since the web site was created, there have been over 1.5 million impressions from residents of the UAE, second only to Egypt, and considering the relatively small geographical size of the UAE. This is a matter of joy.  A cross-section of residents spoken to, whose mother tongue is not Arabic, said they would love to learn the language, but did not know where or whom to turn to. Private tuitions are expensive and the language institutes are not up to the mark, as at the end of the sessions, “you are where you were at the beginning of the course”, is the common refrain. Muslims are particularly eager to develop functional prowess in Arabic, as it is the language in which the Holy Quran was revealed. But they have also not gone far in realising their dreams, including many Pakistani and Indian expatriates whose mother tongue is Urdu, and are therefore, quite familiar with the script, although their comprehension of the text of the holy book in pathetically wanting. There are educational institutes in Syria which offer three-month courses in Arabic for a nominal fee and those who can take time off can benefit from the exercise. “But how many employers will let you off the hook to pursue the ambition?” is their query. Krishna Bihari Tiwari, a teacher of Hindi at the Abu Dhabi Indian School, wondered how Hindi and Urdu, apart from of course English that is credited as the universal language of business and commerce, could spread so fast, while even those with a flair to pick up languages, could not come to terms with Arabic language. He suggested that popular film songs, that come in audio and videocassettes, should carry the lyrics in Arabic, so that people can understand the meaning and hum the tunes as well. The film is a popular medium and the songs and dialogues can help popularise the use of the language, he averred.  Tripati made a pointed reference to the classical Sanskrit language, which also languished in similar plight, and ultimately perished and is no more a “living language”. The longevity of a language is not measured by the scale of human life, counted in generations, for it to vanish from practice, but takes eons to fade out unless the protagonists take appropriate steps. It will be a sad story, for any language suffering neglect, particularly in its own citadel, he added. 


I don’t think any Arab wants Arabic to be like Sanskrit! It is a good read though, it makes people think especially the language planners and those in the education department.