Arabic Language, Between Protection, Violation and Obligation in the State of Qatar.


The State of Qatar’s approach in protecting and promoting the use of Arabic language is clear; legislations obliging all governmental and non-governmental organizations to promote and protect Arabic language, in addition to hundreds of national, regional and international initiatives enhancing and supporting the use of Arabic language. In this article, the author will focus on introducing the main legal pathways of protecting Arabic language and the effect of such protection on local and foreign businesses. Moreover, the author will discuss the use of Arabic language in arbitration and arbitral proceedings in the state of Qatar.

Law number (7) of the year (2019) on protecting the Arabic language:

The law entered into force on January – 2019, consisting of one chapter with 15 articles within. The law obliges all governmental and non-governmental organizations to protect and support Arabic language in all their events and activities. The law states clearly that all the legislations in Qatar shall be written in Arabic language. Article (4) particularly clarifies that Arabic language is the official language of the following:

  • Conversations, negotiations memorandums and correspondence with foreign states, entities, regional and international organizations and official conferences.
  • Covenants, agreements and contracts where the state and other states, entities, regional and international organizations are parties of.

Internally speaking, all ministries, governmental bodies and public entities and organizations, private organizations and associations, shall conduct their meetings, discussions, publications (decisions, regulations, instructions, documents), contracts, correspondence, namings, advertising (audio and visual) in Arabic language.

In the academic field, the law provisions stipulated the urge of using Arabic language as the first language in universities and all higher education entities. Moreover, all researches, studies and dissertations shall be published in Arabic language, however and in case another language was used, an abstract in Arabic language shall be provided.

In the commercial field, the law – Article (8) – requires that businesses with commercial, financial, industrial, scientific and recreational purposes shall have Arabic names. However, international and local companies and institutions with a recognized international reputation and registered trademarks may keep the foreign name and have it written in Arabic alongside the name in the original language.

Furthermore, the law instructed that trademarks and trade names must be written in Arabic.  Arabic language should be shown significantly wherever any other language is used. Data and information on Qatari products must be presented in Arabic and followed by translations into other languages.

The law also contained penalties in articles (11 and 12) whereby violating articles (2/ 2nd paragraph), (5 / 2nd paragraph) (8) (9) (10) is punishable with a maximum fine of QAR 50,000.

Arabic language in Arbitration and Arbitral Proceedings:

Article 22(1) of the Qatari Arbitration Law states that the parties are free to determine the language of arbitration unless their arbitration agreement precludes them from doing so. However, in case of a disagreement on the language of arbitration; the tribunal must decide on the language(s) that shall be used.

Articles (26 and 28) of the QFC (Qatar Financial Center) Arbitration Regulations state that parties can agree on the language of Arbitration, in addition to the jurisdiction given to the Tribunal in determining the language of arbitration in case the parties couldn’t agree.

Law number (7) of 2019 on protecting and supporting the use of Arabic language can be used in favor of choosing Arabic Language as the arbitration language, as it sets a clear guideline on the approaches of the legislator and the state in supporting Arabic Language in the state of Qatar, besides the constitution that clearly mentions Arabic as the first and official language of the country. The aforementioned can be used as a guideline for the tribunal and as an argument for the party favoring Arabic language in confrontation of other languages, but can’t be considered compulsory as the relevant laws and regulations of Arbitration were clear about this matter.

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