Students practise Arabic language writing. (Antonie Robertson / The National)
Students practise Arabic language writing. (Antonie Robertson / The National)

The UN is not talking the talk to Arabic speakers



The six official languages of the United Nations are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Arabic, which was added in 1973, is the official language of more than 20 countries and the first language of over 290 million people living in a geographical area that stretches from south-west Asia to north-west Africa. It is also the liturgical language of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. Yet it receives less than its due attention inside the UN.

Arabic conspicuously lacks parity with the other five official languages. Many documents are yet to be rendered in it – a look at the UN’s websites shows the depth of this disparity.

I have found several instances where Arabic is underrepresented on UN websites. These include the UN Conference on Trade and Development, which is primarily designed to maximise the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and help them integrate into the world economy.

Since there is no language that suits all the world, global organisations need to devise communication strategies to address several target audiences. The UN is required to do so.

The dearth of access to information can affect the development of individuals and whole communities: it can limit social lives, it can lead to poverty and narrowness of vision and deprive people of their rights.

The relative absence of Arabic on UN websites limits their scope for informing Arabic-speaking communities. This could have a negative impact on the desired outcomes of the policies and actions undertaken by these organisations.

With an agenda that affects billions of people with distinctly different languages and cultures, the UN should give higher priority to its information strategies.

For many people, websites are the first source of information about these bodies. If very basic information is lacking, the organisation may fail to reach out to people and to deliver proper outcomes. Without proper communication, there can be no balanced development process.

It is also clear that social media platforms are able to propel messages to the public. Unfortunately, UN social media spaces don’t carry the same volume of information in Arabic as in languages such as English, French and Spanish.

The organisation should allocate extra funds to remove this imbalance among the official languages.

If the UN is unable to cover the full costs of this, it should ask its Arabic-speaking member countries to contribute towards the empowerment of their language.

Statistics concerning first-language use show that Chinese is the most commonly spoken of the UN official languages, followed by English and Spanish.

According to the language publication Ethnologue, Arabic, with 290 million first-language speakers, outnumbers French and Russian. But sources within the UN say that the use of Arabic does not even come close to that of French, which is the first language of around 77 million people worldwide.

The question is why the UN seems to be unable to put in place proper strategies to end the imbalance and to do so transparently.

The UAE has already made a generous financial contribution towards developing Arabic-language content within the UN system.

In 2014, the UAE and UN signed a memorandum on funding an Arabic version of Basic Facts about the United Nations. This book serves as a guide to the United Nations system and its agencies.

The question of further funding for Arabic content has to be settled satisfactorily, not just because Arabic has more first-language speakers than some other UN languages, but because Arabic is growing in importance in many ways.

Continual developments in the Arab world keep the region among the highest priorities on the UN agenda. Several territories of the Arabic linguistic zone face complex and interconnected challenges, ranging from poverty to civil war, displacements and refugee crises.

The UN needs to look within itself to ensure that a large part of its constituency is properly informed in its own language.

Muhammed Raeez is a doctoral candidate in New Delhi

LA LIGA FIXTURES

Thursday (All UAE kick-off times)

Sevilla v Real Betis (midnight)

Friday

Granada v Real Betis (9.30pm)

Valencia v Levante (midnight)

Saturday

Espanyol v Alaves (4pm)

Celta Vigo v Villarreal (7pm)

Leganes v Real Valladolid (9.30pm)

Mallorca v Barcelona (midnight)

Sunday

Atletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid (4pm)

Real Madrid v Eibar (9.30pm)

Real Sociedad v Osasuna (midnight)

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

ESSENTIALS

The flights

Emirates flies direct from Dubai to Rio de Janeiro from Dh7,000 return including taxes. Avianca fliles from Rio to Cusco via Lima from $399 (Dhxx) return including taxes.

The trip

From US$1,830 per deluxe cabin, twin share, for the one-night Spirit of the Water itinerary and US$4,630 per deluxe cabin for the Peruvian Highlands itinerary, inclusive of meals, and beverages. Surcharges apply for some excursions.

Teaching your child to save

Pre-school (three - five years)

You can’t yet talk about investing or borrowing, but introduce a “classic” money bank and start putting gifts and allowances away. When the child wants a specific toy, have them save for it and help them track their progress.

Early childhood (six - eight years)

Replace the money bank with three jars labelled ‘saving’, ‘spending’ and ‘sharing’. Have the child divide their allowance into the three jars each week and explain their choices in splitting their pocket money. A guide could be 25 per cent saving, 50 per cent spending, 25 per cent for charity and gift-giving.

Middle childhood (nine - 11 years)

Open a bank savings account and help your child establish a budget and set a savings goal. Introduce the notion of ‘paying yourself first’ by putting away savings as soon as your allowance is paid.

Young teens (12 - 14 years)

Change your child’s allowance from weekly to monthly and help them pinpoint long-range goals such as a trip, so they can start longer-term saving and find new ways to increase their saving.

Teenage (15 - 18 years)

Discuss mutual expectations about university costs and identify what they can help fund and set goals. Don’t pay for everything, so they can experience the pride of contributing.

Young adulthood (19 - 22 years)

Discuss post-graduation plans and future life goals, quantify expenses such as first apartment, work wardrobe, holidays and help them continue to save towards these goals.

* JP Morgan Private Bank 

The Details

Article 15
Produced by: Carnival Cinemas, Zee Studios
Directed by: Anubhav Sinha
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Sayani Gupta, Zeeshan Ayyub
Our rating: 4/5 

Profile of RentSher

Started: October 2015 in India, November 2016 in UAE

Founders: Harsh Dhand; Vaibhav and Purvashi Doshi

Based: Bangalore, India and Dubai, UAE

Sector: Online rental marketplace

Size: 40 employees

Investment: $2 million

RACECARD

9pm Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (Dirt) 2,000m
9.30pm Handicap (TB) Dh70,000 (D) 2,000m
10pm Al Ain Cup – Prestige (PA) Dh100,000 (D) 2,000m
10.30pm Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,800m
11pm Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,600m
11.30pm Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m
12am Maiden (PA) Dh70,000 (D) 1,400m

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,600rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1,500-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.9L/100km
Price: From Dh119,900
On sale: Now

Dhadak

Director: Shashank Khaitan

Starring: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khattar, Ashutosh Rana

Stars: 3

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

First Person
Richard Flanagan
Chatto & Windus 

'Midnights'

Artist: Taylor Swift

Label: Republic Records

Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Power: 410hp
Torque: 495Nm
Price: starts from Dh495,000 (Dh610,000 for the F-Sport launch edition tested)
On sale: now

360Vuz PROFILE

Date started: January 2017
Founder: Khaled Zaatarah 
Based: Dubai and Los Angeles
Sector: Technology 
Size: 21 employees
Funding: $7 million 
Investors: Shorooq Partners, KBW Ventures, Vision Ventures, Hala Ventures, 500Startups, Plug and Play, Magnus Olsson, Samih Toukan, Jonathan Labin

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

The struggle is on for active managers

David Einhorn closed out 2018 with his biggest annual loss ever for the 22-year-old Greenlight Capital.

The firm’s main hedge fund fell 9 per cent in December, extending this year’s decline to 34 percent, according to an investor update viewed by Bloomberg.

Greenlight posted some of the industry’s best returns in its early years, but has stumbled since losing more than 20 per cent in 2015.

Other value-investing managers have also struggled, as a decade of historically low interest rates and the rise of passive investing and quant trading pushed growth stocks past their inexpensive brethren. Three Bays Capital and SPO Partners & Co., which sought to make wagers on undervalued stocks, closed in 2018. Mr Einhorn has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the poor performance this year, while remaining steadfast in his commitment to value investing.

Greenlight, which posted gains only in May and October, underperformed both the broader market and its peers in 2018. The S&P 500 Index dropped 4.4 per cent, including dividends, while the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index, an early indicator of industry performance, fell 7 per cent through December. 28.

At the start of the year, Greenlight managed $6.3 billion in assets, according to a regulatory filing. By May, the firm was down to $5.5bn. 

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Results

6.30pm: Madjani Stakes Group 2 (PA) Dh97,500 (Dirt) 1,900m, Winner: RB Frynchh Dude, Pat Cosgrave (jockey), Helal Al Alawi (trainer)

7.05pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,400m, Winner: Mnasek, Dane O’Neill, Doug Watson.

7.40pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,600m, Winner: Grand Dubai, Sandro Paiva, Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

8.15pm: Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (D) 2,200m, Winner: Meqdam, Sam Hitchcock, Doug Watson.

8.50pm: Dubai Creek Mile Listed (TB) Dh132,500 (D) 1,600m, Winner: Thegreatcollection, Pat Cosgrave, Doug Watson.

9.25pm: Conditions (TB) Dh120,000 (D) 1,900m, Winner: Sanad Libya, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar.

10pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (D) 1,400m, Winner: Madkhal, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass.

The bio

Favourite book: Peter Rabbit. I used to read it to my three children and still read it myself. If I am feeling down it brings back good memories.

Best thing about your job: Getting to help people. My mum always told me never to pass up an opportunity to do a good deed.

Best part of life in the UAE: The weather. The constant sunshine is amazing and there is always something to do, you have so many options when it comes to how to spend your day.

Favourite holiday destination: Malaysia. I went there for my honeymoon and ended up volunteering to teach local children for a few hours each day. It is such a special place and I plan to retire there one day.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

HEY MERCEDES, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME?

Mercedes-Benz's MBUX digital voice assistant, Hey Mercedes, allows users to set up commands for:

• Navigation

• Calls

• In-car climate

• Ambient lighting

• Media controls

• Driver assistance

• General inquiries such as motor data, fuel consumption and next service schedule, and even funny questions

There's also a hidden feature: pressing and holding the voice command button on the steering wheel activates the voice assistant on a connected smartphone – Siri on Apple's iOS or Google Assistant on Android – enabling a user to command the car even without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

DUNE: PART TWO

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Timothee Chamalet, Zendaya, Austin Butler

Rating: 5/5


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