The Arabic language "is living in a state of alienation in its own homeland" in Qatar, said Khaled al-Mouheizeh, principal of Hamza Secondary School in Doha.
With an expatriate population at nearly 85% of its population, Qatar is attempting to protect the language by issuing a number of new laws and has called on government agencies to exclusively use Arabic in their daily dealings.
Everyone is responsible for "marginalising the Arabic language", al-Mouheizeh told Al-Shorfa. Families have the most influence since "the majority of families are speaking with their children in foreign languages or local dialects that are infused with other languages, which adversely affects children".
During the past month, Qatar has organised several symposiums and cultural gatherings seeking to find the best means for preserving and strengthening the Arabic language.
One of these seminars, titled "The Arabic language and identity: Changes in language cause a change in identity", was organised by the Arabic language department at Qatar University's College of Arts and Sciences on April 17th and 18th.
Dr. Iman Mustafawi, the dean of the College of Arts, said at a press conference that the symposium aims to identify the challenges facing the Arabic language in areas of life and education and to find ways to reinforce the Arabic identity through using Arabic in various aspects of life.
The Arabic language is facing new challenges that are emerging with our modern times, said Dr. Ali al-Kubaisi, head of the Arabic language department at Qatar University.
Everyone has become aware of such dangers yet the efforts made to preserve the Arabic language are still insufficient, he said.
"The Arabic language is going through what can be termed as cultural alienation because it is facing fierce competition, rendering it unable to achieve a strong presence," al-Kubaisi told Al-Shorfa. "The link between language and identity is what prompted many Arab thinkers to reiterate the saying that goes that the Arab identity has been lost as a result of the loss of the Arabic language."
Said bin Jumaa, a Qatari student in the Arabic language department, said the job market has strongly influenced the future of the Arabic language.
"You cannot get any job in Qatar unless you are proficient in the English language, which makes learning and mastering the Arabic language unattractive," he said. "It is true that Qataris and Arabs can speak their mother tongue, but they neglect to master it."
In line with Qatar's attempts to preserve the Arabic language, a decree was issued last month requiring all advertisements in a foreign language to have accompanying Arabic text. All government institutions and sectors have also been instructed to take a keen interest in the Arabic language.
In this context, the Supreme Education Council of Qatar decreed Arabic to be the language of instruction at Qatar University.