Irina Bokova pays tribute to the contribution of the Arabic language to universal culture
On 18 December 2012, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, inaugurated the celebrations for World Arabic Language Day at UNESCO in the presence of many eminent persons, including Her Excellency Ms Zouhour Alaoui, Chair of the Arab Group and Ambassador of Morocco to UNESCO, Mr Ziad Aldrees, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO, Mr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Mr Mohamed El Aziz Ben Achour, Director-General of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO).
The Director-General, Irina Bokova, welcomed the initiative to hold the celebration and underlined the outstanding historical contribution of the Arabic language to world civilization. “Authors in the Arabic language enabled the transmission of Greek knowledge to the Latin of medieval Europe, weaving indissoluble ties between cultures through time,” she declared. “The works of Averroës, Ibn Khaldun and Naguib Mahfouz are among the most profound of the human spirit and it is in Arabic that they deliver their full power.”
She underscored that languages are not only tools of communication -- they carry values and meaning, and they embody identities in all their diversity and richness, conveying visions of the world, emphasizing again the contribution of Arabic, its poets and writers, to universal culture.
Speakers at the celebrations highlighted, in turn, the importance of languages for building sustainable development and lasting peace based on mutual understanding among peoples.
“Globalization means that we are all bound together: the opening up of Arabic to the world is the only way to preserve and strengthen the use of the language throughout the world”, said Mr Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He said also that linguistic diversity was one of the principal means for building democracy.
His Excellency the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia stressed the importance of the Day. “It is not only a celebration”, he stated. “It is a practical contribution to the understanding of peoples and cultures.” With this, he called upon the Member States in the Arab Group to draw inspiration from the model of the Francophonie in order to promote the Arabic language worldwide.
On his country’s initiative, lottery tickets were drawn with the prize being an introductory class to Arabic.
World Arabic Language Day will be celebrated in years to come, with the selection of a theme for each year connected with UNESCO’s mission in the fields of education, the sciences, culture and communication.
The celebrations for World Arabic Language Day continued with a ceremony to nominate Mr Metin Arditi as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in recognition of his work with young Israeli and Palestinian musicians through his Instruments for Peace Foundation.
Festivities for this first celebration were rounded off with a concert given by the young prize-winners of the Palestine National Music Competition, organized by the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music.