The Elephant in the Room: An analysis of the Arabic language initiatives in the UAE from the perspectives of educators


  • Amani Batakji Chazy Education Policy Expert, Education and Human Resources Council, United Arab Emirates


Arabic language-in-education policies, Arabic language teaching and learning, language policies, Arabic first language speakers, UAE, WPR Framework


The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has designed a range of policies, initiatives, and projects that aim to improve and revive the Arabic language on political, cultural, and educational levels. During the past decade, these initiatives emerged as a response to a perceived decline in the use of the Arabic language and challenges faced by its first language (L1) learners. The impact of some of these initiatives extended beyond the UAE and had a wider outreach. This article discusses the outcomes of an interview-based study focusing on the UAE Arabic language initiatives, with implications that are transferrable to most Arab countries. The research analyzed the perceptions of a select group of educators and policy makers of the Arabic language initiatives of the UAE (ALI). The study adopted the What’s the problem represented to be (WPR) framework for policy analysis, with data from 29 semi-structured interviews. The outcomes of the study highlighted the role of the targeted Arabic language initiatives in raising the profile of the Arabic language but exposed a critical policy gap. Important language-in- education policies for the Arabic language were found to be urgently required. The implications of the study suggest new pathways for the development of Arabic language policies with a focus on teacher training and curriculum development. 


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How to Cite

Chazy, A. B. (2023). The Elephant in the Room: An analysis of the Arabic language initiatives in the UAE from the perspectives of educators. Arab Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8(1), 18–51. Retrieved from