“Lol, I don’t know how to read Arabic. Please write in English or use the (Maarab, Arabic in English app).
My mom is busy and she cannot translate what you are writing,” said my 13-year-old niece, when I started chatting with her on the Blackberry.
“Here, we don’t accept any document which is not typed in Arabic.
It is against the rules. Please go and get it typed in Arabic, only then I will be able to process it for you,” said an Emirati staff at the Dubai Traffic Prosecution who attended my call.
These are two opposite views of two girls whom I came in touch with in the past couple of days.
It was nice to hear the Traffic Prosecution staff stressing the importance of the Arabic language and that they don’t accept any other language other than Arabic, as per the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE’s Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
On the other hand, the sad part is that the new generation of Arabs are not very interested or keen to preserve their own language.
The openness to the world has changed their lives to a very large extent. The majority of them today use the “Maarab” to communicate, and these are mainly those who go to private schools.
This will lead to a serious problem where the identity of the Arabic language will be lost.
This is a disaster as it will lead to the loss of purity and originality of Arabic, especially when it comes to youngsters who are in the process of learning their mother tongue.
I believe that Maarab was first created by those who did not have an Arabic application on their computer many years ago, and who did not know how to speak or write in English. Today, the majority of teenagers use Maarab to communicate.
They only know how to speak Arabic, and most of the time without correct grammar and usage.
If this is the situation today, then I fear imagining how it will be 10 or 15 years from today?
And the shocking part is that many Arabs show off the fact that they don’t know how to read or write their own mother tongue.
Parents of these children send them to a British or American Standard school, where English is the basic language for studies, and they also talk to them in English at home.
When I go out with my friends, they are surprised that my three-year-old son Saood doesn’t speak English. They try to persuade me to change this and start talking to him in English at a young age to strengthen his English.
They even go to the extent to say that Arabic is not important anymore and that I shouldn’t speak to my son in Arabic in front of others, as this means that I am not modernised.
It’s a pity. Arabic is the language of the Holy Quran, and I wonder how these children will grow to become true Muslims if they don’t know how to read the Holy Book which is the base of their religion? I don’t say that English is not important. It is very important, but it should not take the place of one’s mother tongue.