In a recent article titled "Talk to Me in Arabic" in the English-language daily Saudi Gazette, columnist Ibrahim Badawood lamented the fact that many Saudis who have studied abroad or who work for multinational companies, as well as children who attend international schools in the kingdom, speak to each other in English rather than Arabic. Noting that knowledge of Arabic is generally in decline in the kingdom, with many people lacking the ability to read, write and speak well in their native tongue, he warned that "a nation that does not take pride in its own language is a nation without an identity and can easily be subjugated."
The following is the article:
Ibrahim Badawood (image: Arabnews.com)
"It is very weird to see a number of Saudi youths who have graduated from foreign universities talk to each other in English. You will also find many Saudis who had worked for multinational companies inside Saudi Arabia or abroad and others who lived outside for some time before coming back to the Kingdom talk to each other in English, which has slowly become the language of communication in our society. When these highly educated Saudis get together, they communicate in English as if Arabic is not their mother tongue.
"When you ask these people why they talk in English instead of Arabic, they come out to you with the most bizarre of explanations. Some of them will immediately say that English is the language of the age and the official language in most of the meetings and scientific gatherings. They will also say English is the business language all over the world and that a large number of researches and essays are written in this language. Regrettably, the Arabs have turned their backs on their own language. They replaced it with English for the most illogical of the reasons. By doing so, the Arabs have not only destroyed their language but have practically killed it and took it completely out of the stage.
"Some of us have committed a grave crime by enrolling their children in international schools just to perfect their English skills. They believe that their children will learn Arabic from mixing with society or family members. It is not an uncommon scene to see children of the same family unable to communicate with each other because not all of them can speak good Arabic.
"The Arabic language is today suffering in writing, reading and talking. A tour of our streets will reveal to you that the majority of the advertising billboards, if not in English, they will be written in broken and incorrect Arabic. You can also see the catastrophe when you browse social media networks. The Arabic many people use in their tweets is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes. This is a serious indicator that our language is going down the drain.
"Arabic is a divine language. It is the language of the Holy Qur’an and is widely spoken around the world. A nation that does not take pride in its own language is a nation without an identity and can easily be subjugated. When a nation shies away from its own mother tongue, it can easily be contained. Its heritage and history will be stolen away from it. This is exactly what our enemies want from us. They want us to ignore our language so that it will be easy for them to control us. The enemies want us not to make Arabic the lingua franca of our school curriculum and to cancel teaching the language in our educational institutions.
"Learning foreign languages is quite important, if not a necessity. We should be keen to learn foreign languages but this should not be done at the expense of our own language, culture and identity. Speaking in English has its special occasions and time. However, in our society, Arabic should be the means of communication. We should talk in Arabic among ourselves. So please talk to me in Arabic even if you are fluent in English."
 Saudi Gazette (Saudi Arabia), December 29, 2016.