Arabic

Arabic Language Coordinator:
Prof. Rkia Cornell, recorne@emory.edu
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Are you thinking about studying Arabic at Emory? If so, you should know that studying Arabic would add both breadth and depth to your studies. Studying Arabic will also equip you with the following:

  • Exposure to a wider world
  • Experience with Middle Eastern and North African cultures
  • Exposure to the world of Islam and its civilization
  • Enhanced employment opportunities

Arabic is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world. It is the language of a rich culture and a high civilization dating back many centuries. Arabic is the sacred language of the Qur'an and of Islam, used by over 1 billion Muslims as a vital part of their daily lives. It is the mother tongue of over 200 million people from Morocco to Iraq. Arabic is also spoken by millions of people living in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Arabic is the official language of twenty-one countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen). The United Nations has adopted Arabic as its sixth official language. Much of the western philosophical and medical traditions were carried to the West through Arabic and Islamic Civilization. The Arabic script is known throughout the world for its elegance and beautiful calligraphic styles. Arabic script, in various different forms, has been used in a number of non-Arabic languages, such as Persian, Urdu, Pashto, Dari, Kurdish, Ottoman Turkish, and Indonesian Jawi. The importance of the Arab world as a center of oil resources, the birthplace of the three monotheistic religions, and a region of continuing political and economic challenges make Arabic a crucial language for business and world affairs.

Arabic enhances career opportunities for students in many directions. Opportunities for Arabic speakers have increased dramatically since September 11, 2001 and include such fields as the following:

  • Media and Journalism
  • International Business and Consulting
  • Academia
  • NGOs in Development and Humanitarian Aid
  • United Nations
  • U.S. Government Positions in the State Department, National Security Agency, FBI, CIA, and the Military

Arabic is a crucial language for Middle Eastern Studies. Without a good working knowledge of Arabic, many aspects of Middle Eastern and Islamic societies will remain hidden to the student. Interest in learning about the Middle East, Islam, and the languages of the Middle East is at an all-time high. Many students at colleges and universities in the United States are studying Arabic. Emory University has seen a major increase in the number of students enrolling in Arabic-language courses. The experience of studying Arabic and the Middle East at Emory is enhanced by a partnership between Emory University and Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. Arabic students at Emory are encouraged to get a jump on their Arabic studies by taking an eight-week intensive summer course in Arabic at Al Akhawayn University that is equivalent to one year of Arabic instruction at Emory. Students may also enhance their cultural experience by enrolling in the North African Studies summer program at Al Akhawayn University. Students may also enroll in semester abroad programs at the American University in Cairo and Tel Aviv and Hebrew Universities in Israel.

Arabic studies at Emory involve more than just language courses. Arabic students at Emory find new friends and conversation partners from among the international student population of the University. In addition to strengthening the language skills of both parties, getting together in this way increases cross-cultural awareness and cooperation. Students taking Arabic at Emory also participate in the Arabic Table, a weekly event based on a cultural topic of interest, with discussion and refreshments. Students can also enjoy the Arabic Film Series, a once-monthly event featuring movies of the Arab World.