18.12.2013 - ODG

UNESCO Director-General celebrates World Arabic Language Day

© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo - Celebrating World Arabic Language Day, UNESCO Paris, 18 December 2013

On Wednesday, December 18, Director-General Irina Bokova attended the opening ceremony of World Arabic Language Day, alongside HE Mr. Ziad Aldrees, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO and Ms Mona Khazindar, Director-General of the Institut du Monde Arabe.

In his speech Ambassador Aldrees, President of the Arabia Plan for the Development of Arab culture, declared: "How to express love for the Arabic language? It's very simple, let’s just talk. Praising a language is not very useful, it is essential to speak it". Quoting Amin Maalouf, Ambassador Aldress recalled the power of language to build bridges between people, including in situations of tension, and to be a powerful force for peace.

For her part, Ms Mona Khazindar , Director-General of the Institut du Monde Arabe highlighted the importance of the Centre of Arabic language and civilization for the promotion of learning Arabic in France, through language courses and workshops for children, as well as the significance of language proficiency for strengthening ties with the Arab world.

This second edition of this International Day was dedicated to the role of the media and journalists. In her speech, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, underlined the importance of the media and the work of UNESCO in supporting and contributing to the training of journalists:

"The media give voice to public opinion and UNESCO is strongly committed to supporting Arabic media as forces of dialogue, information and citizenship. The media and journalists are directly involved in the building of knowledge societies. The quality of the language used in the media determines, to a large extent, the quality and vitality of the language as a whole. That is why training and support for journalists, as well as the development of independent and pluralistic media is essential, and it is our responsibility to support them."

On this occasion, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary General of the UN, had also sent a message of greetings, noting that "the Arabic language is gaining popularity thanks to the dynamism of those who speak it and their openness to the world.”

Throughout the celebration of this International Day, experts and media professionals are attending a number of roundtables to share their experiences and vision of the role of media in the dissemination and promotion of the Arabic language.




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