As Language of Diplomacy, History, Arabic Should Be Key Symbol of Peace, Legacy to Future Generations, Deputy Secretary-General Says in Anniversary Message

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as delivered, on the Celebration of the 2023 World Arabic Language Day, observed on 18 December:

As-salamu alaykum. 

I thank His Highness, the Minister of Culture, for those inspiring remarks.  We are all grateful to him, to the King Salman Global Academy for the Arabic Language and to the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for bringing us together.

What a wonderful celebration:  Fifty years of the Arabic language at the United Nations.  This is about much more than a language.  For many of us, Arabic is infused with rich meaning, whether we are fluent Arabic speakers, students of the language, or only know a few words.

Some of the words that have been absorbed from Arabic into the English language give a sense of the poetry of Arabic — and of how much the West owes to the Arab world.  Words like algebra; coffee; elixir.  One Arabic word that is very widely understood around the world is, simply, Salaam.  Peace.  What a powerful message.

I have a personal connection to Arabic, of course, as a Muslim through the Holy Quran.  And many more people around the world are introduced to Arabic through the beauty of calligraphy, which is a true art form.

Arabic is also the language of diplomacy and history.  So much of humanity’s rich heritage comes from Arabic-speaking poets, scientists and philosophers.  It is one of the most widely spoken languages in our world:  an incubator of ideas and culture.

Arabic is also a pillar of cultural diversity, with many different dialects all united under a single language.  And let us not forget that it is also written across the sky.  More than 200 stars in the solar system have Arabic names. 

On this milestone commemoration of 50 years of Arabic as an official United Nations language, allow me to express a sincere hope:  That today’s celebrations will inspire us to cherish Arabic, not only as an important symbol of identity and peace, but as a treasured legacy to future generations.

For information media. Not an official record.