World Arabic language Day is an opportunity to celebrate the prominent role of this language in enriching human heritage, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova said Thursday.
Her opening remarks were made marking the 'World Arabic language Day', coinciding today, in a celebration attended by international specialists and researchers and representatives of UNESCO member states at the Paris-based UN body.
"By celebrating the Arabic language, we are also acknowledging the tremendous contribution of its writers, scientists and artists to universal culture. These are the Arabic language authors who enabled the transmission of Greek knowledge to the Latin of medieval Europe, weaving indissoluble ties between cultures through time," she noted.
"The works of Averroes, 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. This love and fascination for the language - expressed for example in calligraphy and poetry, so dear to the Arab culture - is a crucible from which the greatest cultures have emerged," Bokova noted.
"In the face of transformations that are challenging the world and the emergence of plural societies, every language provides a key to living together better, to building solidarity and to helping each other to be heard. Multilingualism is a force for the rapprochement of peoples and cultures. The more cultures come together, the more it is in the interest of individuals - especially young people - to master several languages and learn about the works and values that they convey, in order to broaden the horizons for dialogue and cooperation.
"This is the spirit of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the programmes carried out under the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
"We are celebrating the power of the Arabic language to bring us together around shared values, to give strength to our ideas and depth to our ambitions, for peace and sustainable development," she concluded.
The main theme of this year's event would be the Arabic letters and its impact on human history.
On the sideline of the festivity, Kuwait's UNESCO representative Ambassador Ali Al-Tarrah, along with Ruler of Sharjah Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al-Qassemi and Bokova opened the "Arabic Calligraphy" exhibition. Afterwards, Ambassador Al-Tarrah inaugurated pavilion of the Kuwaiti ministry of justice, endowments and Islamic Affairs, which displayed a number of audio-visual, as well as reading materials on Arab, Islamic and even Kuwaiti heritage.
Celebrated for the first time in 2012, World Arabic Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO's Executive Board during its 190th session.
The initiative seeks to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity, as well as celebrate Arabic language's role in and contribution to safeguarding and disseminating human civilization and culture.
The choice of 18 December marks the day on which the UN General Assembly designated Arabic as the sixth official language of the United Nations organizations in 1973.
In the following year, 1974, the UNESCO's General Conference adopted Arabic as an official working language. Upon request of Kuwait, Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, and Lebanon, Arabic was incorporated into the work of the executive council later that same year.
Thus adopted by the two main bodies of the organization, UNESCO moved on to translate all documents and memos and transcripts into Arabic and started providing simultaneous Arabic interpreting services at all meetings and events.
Arabic is one of six working languages at UNESCO, and is the language of 22 member states, spoken by 422 million Arabs and over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world.