There is no doubt that the United Arab Emirates is an Arab country, and that Arabic should be its first language. But sadly there are situations that make us feel otherwise. While the country is making big efforts to change this ever so present issue, we still come across annoying situations where we feel the Arabic language is taking the backseat or being marginalized and neglected.
Here are the 5 most common examples of such situations:
1. No Arabic menus
It might be shocking to hear but guess what? Not everyone can read or speak English in the UAE! In Italy we will find Italian menus, in France we will find French menus… so why can’t we find Arabic menus in a lot of the UAE restaurants?
2. Bad Arabic menus
If you will offer me a Google translated menu that doesn’t make any sense then save yourself the embarrassment and hide it somewhere no Arabic reader can reach it! The UAE government is making great efforts to preserve the Arabic language and spread it, so why can’t some restaurant owners follow suit?
3. English only operators
Again, how can a person who can’t understand or speak English book a doctor appointment or get information about opening hours if the operator speaks only in English?! Even when we are given the option to choose between Arabic or English we still sometimes get an answer in English… This won’t happen in Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Syria… so why does it happen in the UAE?
4. English press releases
Journalists and editors in UAE will know what I’m talking about here! Often times journalists who work in Arabic magazines or newspapers in the UAE receive English only press releases from PR companies. What will they do with it? They will simply send it to the bin because they don’t have time to translate it. Some PR companies however make the effort of sending Arabic press releases... but most of them are usually either done by Google translate or full of mistakes that make them unusable.
5. Staff who can’t speak Arabic
How many times did you have to accompany your non-English speaking parent on a shopping trip to Dubai Mall because they simply cannot ask the English-only speaking staff for their size?! How sad is it to see that happening in an Arab country where the first language should be Arabic?