SHARJAH, 20th March, 2022 (WAM) — The unprecedented efforts of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to preserve and promote the Arabic language reached an important milestone during the 5th edition of the prestigious International Festival of Arabic Language and Culture in Milan, whose main focus this year was the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language – an unprecedented project to chronicle 17 centuries of development of the Arabic language spanning five periods distinct.
The Ruler of Sharjah’s cultural message to the world was conveyed by Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah, during a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the festival, hosted by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. in Milan in partnership with Sharjah Book Authority (SBA).
The opening took place in the presence of Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, President, SBA; Dr. Mohammed Safi Al Mosteghanemi, Secretary General of the Arabic Language Academy (ALA); Ahmed Naser Al Khaja, Head of Media Affairs and Public Diplomacy, Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Italy; Franco Anelli, President, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart; Giovanni Gobber, Dean of the Faculty of Linguistic Sciences and Foreign Literature, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart; and Dr. Wael Farouq, Professor of Language, Arabic Literature and Islamic Studies, Catholic University.
Also present were Dr. Abdelfattah Al-Hajmari, Director of the Arabization Coordination Office in Rabat, Morocco; Dr. Mamoun Wajeeh, scientific director of the “Historical Corpus of the Arabic language“; Dr. Bakri Mohammed Al-Haj, Director of the International Arabic Language Institute in Al Khartoum, Sudan; and Dr. Khalil Al-Nahwi, head of the Mauritanian Arabic Language Council; in addition to diplomats, senior representatives of cultural institutions in Europe and around the world.
In his keynote address delivered on behalf of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi said, “Our pride in language and national identity should not be kept isolated from the world. We must use them to forge meaningful dialogue and cultural culture. and linguistic ties with the world based on mutual respect, understanding and equality.”
The President of the DGR added: “Respecting one’s own identity and understanding its importance in building the future also means respecting the identity of others. Language, everyone agrees, is a key component of our identity because it is a tool of self-expression, carrier of culture and heritage.”
Speaking of the efforts of the Ruler of Sharjah to support the Arabic language, Sheikh Fahim noted: “Through the historical corpus of the Arabic language, His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah has emphasized that our language is not just for us; it belongs to all humanity because it has influenced other languages while also being nourished by them. These influences of our language on the world are evident in world art and literature, and even in spoken languages and dialects.
For his part, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, said in his opening speech: “We are proud to once again sponsor this important festival, which is the largest of its kind in Europe. In Sharjah, our work is guided by the vision of HH Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, who recognizes the importance of language in impacting the current reality and the future of nations. The vision also calls for constructive communication based on equality and awareness of one’s unique individuality, and emphasizes the importance of celebrating commonalities between cultures and countries.”
The SBA Chairman added, “The beauty of a nation is truly revealed when a non-native is able to understand its language, because a language is not just a tool of communication – it is a mode of life. This is why we are happy to open a wide window to Arab culture from the heart of Milan, and we are happy that Sharjah is an ambassador of Arab language and culture in the world.”
Al Ameri continued, “Throughout its history, the Arabic language has made immense contributions to humanity, presenting the world with vast knowledge and awareness, laying the foundations of science, physics, astronomy, navigation, mathematics and even music. gateway through which the world entered the era of contemporary civilization, and the path taken to the most significant renaissance through the ages.”
Franco Anelli said, “We thank Sharjah for its continued efforts towards intercultural dialogue, and we also thank the Sharjah Book Authority for its continued support in advancing the vision and message of the festival. We are delighted that this year’s edition of the festival is dedicated to celebrating the historic Corpus of the Arabic language, which Sharjah worked on under the supervision of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and which today represents a significant achievement not only for Arabs but for the entire world, due to the monumental effort to document one of the oldest and richest languages in the world.”
He added: “In this edition of the festival, we examine the impact of the ‘Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language’ in promoting common values between Arab and European cultures and supporting communication between civilizations. We see Sharjah as the gateway to strengthen our relationship not only with the Emirati culture but also with the Arab culture.”
For his part, Giovanni Gobber said: “For academics, the Arabic language is considered one of the most important languages and we are constantly looking for ways to deepen our knowledge of it. We believe that all languages are related in some way. There are relationships between them, some of which are known, and others waiting to be discovered.
Gobber added: “As Italians, we feel a sense of belonging to Arab civilization, and we are proud of what connects us to it and of our strong ties to this magnificent culture and language.”
In turn, Dr. Wael Farouk expressed his pride in working at the Catholic University and pointed out that no other university outside the Arab world provides so much time and resources to scholars.
A video shown during the opening ceremony documented the different phases of development of the historical Arabic Corpus, and the ceremony ended with a musical performance by the university’s Arabic language students.
Led by the university’s Arabic Language Research Institute (CARA) and the Center for Language Services (SeLdA), the festival also featured an exhibition of Arabic books, where SBA presented a selection of works by Emirati and Arab authors.
The three-day festival hosted a series of cultural events and activities, and witnessed several expert-led panel discussions that shed light on key Corpus offerings and its development journey.