- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Arabic is the 5th most commonly spoken native language in the world
Arabic is the official language of over 20 countries and there are well over 300 million native speakers of the language. These speakers are largely concentrated in the Middle East, but there are minority groups of native speakers throughout the world. It is also an official language of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the African Union.
Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam
In addition to the millions of native speakers, many more millions know Arabic as a foreign language, since as the language of the Qu'ran, it is understood by Muslims throughout the world.
There is a high demand and low supply of Arabic-speakers in the Western world
Relatively few Westerners ever venture to learn Arabic. With the growing importance of the Middle East in international affairs, there is thus an extreme shortage of workers in the West who are versed in Arabic language and culture. Those who study Arabic can find careers in a variety of fields: journalism, business and industry, education, finance and banking, translation and interpretation, consulting, foreign service and intelligence, and many others. Only 1 % of the United States 12,000 FBI agents have any knowledge of Arabic at all, and this includes those who know only a few words.
There are financial incentives for learning Arabic
The US government has designated Arabic as a language of strategic importance. The National Strategic Language Initiative instituted in 2006 promotes the learning of Arabic (and other languages deemed critical) among Americans through numerous scholarships and supported learning opportunities. These include support for language courses from beginning to advanced levels, study abroad programs, intensive instruction opportunities, teacher exchanges, and professional development.
Arabic-speaking nations are a fast growing market for trade
Initiatives to integrate the Arab world into the global economy are opening up numerous potential nw business opportunities. The Arab region with its rapidly growing population provides a huge export market for goods and services. With a GDP of over 600 billion dollars annually, the region also has much to offer the world market. In order to do business effectively, one must understand the language and culture of the people with whom one hopes to negotiate and conduct trade.