Egypt’s Ministry of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs announced this week the official launch of the ‘Speak Arabic’/’Etkallem Arabi’ (اتكلم عربي) initiative.
The initiative, which was also welcomed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and will form part of its celebration to mark World Arabic Language Day on 18 December, aims to promote Arabic language and Egyptian culture and identity, primarily to and among second and third generation Egyptians living abroad.
“We are targeting children and youth who have lived abroad their entire lives or moved abroad at a young age,” said Minister of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram to Egyptian Streets.
“After the initiative was initially announced, we found that this initiative will also benefit children and youth living in Egypt as well, particularly those who are enrolled in international schools who often communicate in foreign languages and connect to foreign cultures.”
The initiative, which Makram hopes will help connect Egyptians living abroad to Egypt, consists of three initial stages.
“The first stage of the initiative is to raise awareness. Importantly, raising awareness of what it would mean to lose the Arabic language and to lose Egyptian identity and culture,” said Makram to Egyptian Streets. Two YouTube videos launching the Speak Arabic initiative were published online on 16 December 2020, marking the start of this stage.
“The second stage of the initiative is to engage with children and youth and involve them in the awareness raising campaigns, such as by getting them to send us videos of them speaking Arabic.”
Finally, the third stage, which will commence in January 2021, will see the Egyptian Ministry of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs releasing a number of programs on YouTube targeted towards children and youth.
“[This initiative] is important to me, not only because of my work duties, which include helping second and third generation Egyptians living to feel connected to their motherland, but also for personal reasons,” said Makram to Egyptian Streets.
“As a former diplomat, my children grew up overseas and faced difficulties learning Arabic and lost, against their will, the Arabic language,” explained Makram, adding that the initiative, which she proposed to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi who welcomed it, was important to her personally before it became a Ministerial responsibility.
In addition to the Speak Arabic initiative, the Egyptian Ministry of Emigration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs has run a number of other programs aimed at connecting Egyptians living abroad to their Egyptian roots, such as trips to national treasures and institutions, opportunities to participate in forums with leading figures and more.