Good evening everybody!
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to a European Night of Languages – a celebration of the European Language Day and Europe’s linguistic diversity – but also a celebration of cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Europe and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Language is what connects us as people and enables us to communicate and better understand one-another. Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things. Languages broaden our horizons.
Languages also reveal our deep-rooted connections and shared history.
Take Arabic – one of the three most spoken non-European languages on the European continent.
Did you know that Maltese, spoken on the island of Malta, is derived from Arabic?
Did you know that Spanish has one of the largest Arabic-influenced vocabularies of any European language with nearly 8% of its words of Arabic origin?
Facts like these remind us that we have much more connecting than dividing us.
We in Europe are proud of our linguistic diversity. The European Union, whose motto reads “united in diversity” has 24 official languages. In fact, one of the EU’s founding principles was multilingualism. This means that we communicate with our citizens in their own languages, protect Europe’s rich linguistic diversity and promote language learning in Europe.
There has never been a better time to learn a new language and reap the benefits that multilingualism has to offer, from global access to knowledge and education, to better job opportunities and greater cultural understanding. It is encouraging to see that more and more Saudis are interested in learning languages and with our event, we aim at inspiring you even further.
I would like to thank our partners in this endeavour – the Riyadh Language Exchange – a Saudi non-profit organisation who has taken it as its duty to promote language learning among Saudis, by providing monthly events where people come together and practice various languages.
I would also like to thank Alliance Française, Goethe-Institut and Education First for their support to tonight’s event as well as the Embassies of the EU Member States for their participation. I am very glad that we have such a huge variety of languages at display tonight – 17 to be exact – and I hope you will get inspired to pursue further your language learning journey and who knows, maybe some of you also find a new language that you become passionate about.
Thank you & enjoy the evening!