The Greatest Mosque Al-Masjid Al-Haram, Mecca (Creative Commons, Hassam all line flickr)

The United Nations adopted Arabic as one of its six official languages in 1974. Arabic today is the native language of over 200 million people as well as the liturgical language for over a billion Muslims throughout the world.

Arabic is an important language in many countries of the world, as well as the official language of countries from North Africa to the Arabian Gulf (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen). Events in the Middle East affect our daily lives, and with the study of Arabic, you can gain important insights into the cultural, religious, and political forces which motivate the inhabitants of this region – insights that our English-only media seldom provides.

The Middle East is also the birthplace of civilization and the cradle of the three major monotheistic religions. It is also home to some of the world’s greatest archeological and religious sites. It is the locus of two thirds of the world’s known oil reserves. Moreover, it is very rich with interesting cultures and warm, hospitable people. A good knowledge of Arabic will greatly enhance the enjoyment of your travels there and your ability to work and interact effectively with Arabic speaking people.

The study of Arabic can lead to exciting careers in various fields. Here are only a few of the many positions open to those with a knowledge of Arabic:

  • Communications: foreign correspondent, reporter, translator.
  • International finance: international banker, international consultant, political risk analyst.
  • Industry: manager of government relations for oil companies, market analyst for export companies.
  • Government: foreign service officer, development program officer, intelligence analyst, government relations specialist, translator, or interpreter.
  • Law: contractual and corporative consultant.
  • Academia: teaching and research positions – the U.S. government currently considers Arabic a critical language and many scholarships are available.