Let us first start with the signification of the Arabic term هِجـــــــــري (Hijri.)
Therefore “هِجـــــــــري” is an adjective, and its corresponding noun is “هِجـــــــــرة.”
A few days ago, according to an article published in the Dubai-based daily Gulf News, the Saudi government has decreed that the Hijri calendar and Arabic language are now mandatory in all official dealings.
According to the same article, “the decision was taken after the authorities noticed a violation of the royal orders governing the use of the Hijri calendar and Arabic language, and the massive use of English in the receptions of hotels and companies.”
These new steps aim to safeguard the cultural and linguistic heritage of the country.
The use of the Gregorian calendar is not forbidden though. The officials said that it could be used whenever needed, provided that it is associated with the corresponding Hijri date.
Cited by Gulf News, a Saudi blogger, Thamer Bin Mohammad, said that “Saudis have a moral duty to preserve and protect the Arabic language, which should not be replaced by English or any other language.”
Thamer has also expressed الغُـــــــــربة (the feeling of being a foreigner, a stranger) experienced by many Saudis in their own country. This social phenomenon is somewhat comparable to what some psychologists define as “unheimlich“, or the “Uncanny” (“borrowed” by Freud from German romantic author E.T.A. Hoffmann, who famously used Arabic manuscripts as a theme in his “alchemical” novella “The Golden Pot“), which also occurs in all countries that are subject to a massive flow of immigration.
“We have started to feel like strangers in our won land, especially with the tsunami of foreigners who resort to marginalising Arabic in local and foreign companies and in hotels.”
The Saudis are not the only ones concerned about the status of their culture and language. A big wave of ”cultural protectionism” has recently swept the region, and similar steps were taken in the UAE, Qatar, and even Morocco to a certain extent.
Read also the related post: New Global “Center of Excellence” for Arabic Language