(MENAFN - Arab News) Tomorrow, DEC. 18, is World Arabic Day. Arabic is a major language and a beautiful one at that - but many wonder why many non-Arabic speaking expatriates are reluctant to study it or even send their children to Arabic schools.
A fellow researcher, who is a Saudi, conducted a survey on this subject and found that:
First: Expatriates do not expect much benefit from learning Arabic language as it does not guarantee bright prospects for their children both in Saudi Arabia and in their home countries.
Second: Saudi schools do not allow foreigners to continue their studies after graduation from high schools here, as it will create problems when these students return home to pursue higher education, for which the medium of instruction is English. Also, expatriate children attending schools in Saudi Arabia at the primary level leave the school after realizing that they could not continue studying after high school.
Third: Lack of interest by the Saudi sponsors and companies in encouraging their expatriate employees to learn Arabic as one of the prerequisites for employment or a guarantee for retaining their services.
A Saudi columnist has said that despite the announcement by the Saudi government that Arabic is the official language for all communications, many firms here are still using English.
It may be noted that many job-related advertisements in the local papers indicate that applicants should have knowledge of English but do not insist on similar proficiency in Arabic language. There are only marginal preferences for those who are well versed in Arabic.
The fellow researcher asked me about the prospects for my children in the light of the situation prevailing in Saudi companies for foreigners who are proficient only in English. I honestly told him that I see a bright future for my children in view of their good grounding in Arabic.
This leads me to the following conclusions against the backdrop of the global economic slowdown.
Firstly: I believe in the Arabic Holy Book, the book of God and the nation's Constitution, which has made Saudi Arabia a prosperous country. The Almighty Allah says in Surah Yusuf, "Verily, we have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an in order that you may understand."
Secondly: We have seen recently the economic decline in major countries in the West, and the economic system as probably one of the reasons for the deterioration in their economy. This has forced others to search for an alternative, and somehow found an answer in the Islamic economic system. As such, individuals and companies are now heading toward Muslim countries, seeking to know more about Shariah- compliant banking system. The first Islamic Finance News (IFN Forum - 2012) was held here this week only that attended by various economist experts from across the globe to explore the rapid growing Islamic Finance system.
Thirdly: I mentioned to the researcher that in my personal view I consider Arabic as the main pillar and others as branches of the linguistic tree. If somebody seeks this branch of knowledge, it could be an additional means that may be used to reach the desired objective. For example, you find workers who have mastered the English language. Do you feel that they are better than you are? Whatever the answer is, the fact remains that they merely came to serve you and provide the well-being of the country and its citizen, who may not speak English at all.
Fourthly: As I have indicated earlier that the repercussions of the economic crisis in the Western world in general and their search for the alternative in Islamic regime in particular has prompted the use of Arabic economic terminology, which exists only in the books of Islamic studies, such as "Sukuk", "Murabaha" and other many Arabic terms.
This is a great chance for the Arab world to take this opportunity. It should do something for expats to get interested to learn about the Arabic knowledge while they seek employment. It is crystal clear that the more people learn Arabic the more Arabs win their sympathy and understanding of Islamic cause and enhance their love for the language and its people.
Finally, I requested the fellow researcher to highlight in his theses the request of expatriates who are very few for the Saudi Higher Education to open room for them to continue their studies in Saudi universities irrespective of the specializations. Definitely, they will carry in their hearts the generosity of this country.
Similar to their Saudi classmates, they will certainly learn everything advantageous about the country. They will act as ambassadors of this noble country when they finally return to their countries of origin.