©C. Butler

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Arabic Language Day 18 December 2013

"World Arabic Language Day is an opportunity for us to acknowledge the immense  contribution  of the Arabic language to universal  culture and to renew our commitment to multilingualism.  Linguistic diversity is a key component of cultural diversity. It reflects the wealth of human  existence and gives us access to infinite resources so that we may engage in dialogue, learn, develop and live in peace.

Celebration in Paris

A three sessions conference on "Arabic media and and their impact on the spread of the Arabic language " and a recital of Arabic songs. Programme and invitation

The Arabic language bears the treasures of ancient Islamic wisdom, and the voice of poets, philosophers and scientists who placed the strength and beauty of the language at the service of humanity, scholars like the great Avicenna, the 1,000th anniversary of whose The Canon of Medicine we celebrate this year. We can mobilize that strength to spread knowledge, encourage mutual understanding and build spaces of cooperation for development and peace. The Arabic language is also our ally as we seek to improve literacy rates and build knowledge societies with 22 Member States of UNESCO.
This year, UNESCO is emphasizing in particular the role of the media in favour of the reach and reinforcement of Arabic. The media are a key agent of public discourse, and UNESCO is committed to supporting the Arab media as forces of dialogue, information and citizenship.


In 1948, the 3rd General Conference of UNESCO held in Beirut (Lebanon), declared that Arabic, in addition to English and French, will become the third working language of the governing bodies meeting in an Arabic-speaking country. More on the history of the Arabic language at UNESCO

We should strengthen training for journalists and support for media development so as to ensure that Arabic is heard and read in the public arena. Initiatives backed by UNESCO, such as the sixth Arab Free Press Forum, held in Tunis in November 2013, and the Arab Bloggers Summit due to be held in January 2014, are additional opportunities to reflect on the situation and needs of the independent, plural Arab press.

The media also encourage us to think about the role of languages as prime instruments in collective life and citizenship. The Arabic language and the possibilities it offers can help the citizens of this globalized world to live together in their diversity. Arabic bears the identities and values of 422 million individuals in the world and of 1.5 billion Muslims who use it for their daily prayers. It drives the reinforcement of the values we share. With this in mind, UNESCO supports the International Council for the Arabic Language, whose role is essential in connecting the Arabic-language cultures and cultures of other languages across the world. UNESCO is involved in a number of regional initiatives designed to promote Arabic, such as the e-platform for teachers, Education for the Twenty-First Century, designed to facilitate knowledge sharing.
I renew this day our commitment to bolstering the use of Arabic – and thus the impact and scope of our programmes – in UNESCO’s work with its Member States."






  • الجبر al-jabr, algebra
  • الكيمياء al-kīmiyā, alchemy 
  • العود al-ʿaūd, lute
  • قطن qutun, cotton.

Join the celebration

  • Calligraphy is an art, try it in a workshop and dive into the beauty

  • Discover the melodic virtuosity of the chants of Arabic poetry

  • Celebrate the Arabic language by organizing a poetry reading in your neighborhood

  • Teachers, encourage your students to practice or start learning Arabic because it's challenging !

  • Native speakers, make sure to preserve the Arabic language by talking to your children in your mother tongue

  • When traveling, try to learn a few words in Arabic to share with natives !

VIDEO: The Egyptian Epic