One of the oldest languages in the world, Arabic is now the official language of over 22 countries and the native language of over 300 million people worldwide. Closely linked to the study of the Qur’an as well as Arabic culture and civilization, the language has evolved alongside these elements and through the art of calligraphy, has become an end in itself. Students of Arabic will likely find it to be a satisfying and challenging language to learn, as well as practical.
Although perhaps more difficult to learn than Spanish or French, Arabic is one of the most useful languages to know at present. One of the six official languages of the United Nations, it is the language of the Middle East, North Africa and a number of non-Arab countries such as Uzbekistan and Cyprus. Furthermore, Arabic is sometimes spoken in countries that claim Islam as their most prevalent religion. In the United States, several government entities, including the U.S. Department of State, are all actively recruiting Arabic speakers to meet the sudden increase in demand for translators and scholars in Middle East culture.
n other areas, too, knowledge of Arabic will come in handy. It is not unusual for historians, religious scholars, archeologists, anthropologists, Egyptologists, art historians and scholars, and a number of other professions to include Arabic in their list of “things to know” because of the wide base of ancient knowledge and literature it makes available. In modern dealings, students of business, economics, international trade and politics, journalism, and religion will all find Arabic to be a necessary part of today’s world. Egypt is one of the most influential political bodies in the Middle East, and its largest trading partner is the United States. The ability to speak and understand Arabic is one skill that will enable you to be a part of the relationship-building currently occurring between the U.S. and the Middle East, both politically and economically.
In addition, while written Arabic may seem daunting to the beginner, any one with an artistic or creative impulse may quickly find it to be mesmerizing and exciting to learn. Although the Riq’a script (a way of drawing Arabic letters) may be the most “common” form of written Arabic, it is still a very beautiful script and is only one of several fonts for writing the language, each one more elaborate and decorative than the previous. Art students in particular may find that learning how to write Arabic leads to an interest in calligraphy, Islamic/Arabic art or further inspires artistic creation.