Protecting the Arabic language in Qatar: a beginners guide

21 November 2021

It’s been less than 2 years since His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued the Protection of the Arabic Language Law in Qatar.

But it’s our first time addressing the law in our blog, so here’s a breakdown of the law, what it means, who it affects, and why it’s important (and common) for countries to protect their native language with linguistic laws. 

What IS the Protection of the Arabic Language Law, and who does it impact? 

As explained by the law firm, Dentons, the law means “all ministries, government agencies, public bodies and institutions need to use the Arabic language in their meetings discussions. This includes resolutions issued, regulations, instructions, documents, contracts, correspondence, designations, programmes, visuals, audiovisuals, and text publications and all other transactions” must be provided in Arabic. 

It also means: 

  • Almost all companies need to be given Arabic names.
  • If you’re an international or local company/institution with a foreign name, you can keep the original name but you should have a version written in Arabic alongside your native language company name.
  • Trademarks and trade names must be written in Arabic.  

Note, company registration in Qatar has always been completed in Arabic, even before the 2019 Protection of the Arabic Language Law was established. The main difference now is the importance of the Arabic language as underscored in public and private company dealings and activities. In enforcing the use of the Arabic language, Qatar recognizes its future potential and is taking measures to preserve and protect the culture of the country. 

Why is the preservation of Arabic important to Qatar? 

As the language of the Holy Quran, and the language of Islam, Qatar sees Arabic as the preserver of Islamic nations, and a unifier of Arabs. But as with all wealthy Gulf countries, Qatar is also a magnet for foreign investment and expatriate communities. 

To ensure that Arabic isn’t lost in economic globalization, Qatar is taking measures to support and promote Arabic. Language is a powerful channel to balance foreign imports and ensure religion, family connections, customs, manners and language itself aren’t negatively impacted by all the new shiny things coming into the country, and disrupting the traditional Qatari way of life. 

And, with an impressive population of over 2.5 million inhabitants (and increasing), Qatar is experiencing a bit of a global popularity party. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 may be one reason for the sudden interest in the tiny desert nation, but Qatar sees this as an opportunity to establish itself on a global scale, so they’re taking a measured approach to popularity, by ensuring the national language of Arabic is on everyone’s lips. 

It’s not just Qatar making language laws

While regionally, Qatar may be one of the first Middle Eastern countries to take legal measures to protect and preserve the Arabic language, it’s not uncommon for countries around the world to put in place their own linguistic rules and laws to uphold the national language. 

Here are a few more examples from around the world:


One of the basic requirements for admission to most degree programmes in Germany is to prove you’re proficient in the German language. International students usually have to take a test and can attend special classes to improve their German language skills. 

United Kingdom 

One of the many requirements for most visas needed to work or study in the UK is to demonstrate you can speak the required level of English by taking an approved English language test. Only certain exempt individuals can forgo this language testing. 


If you’re planning to move to Norway, you’ll need to take Norwegian classes to fulfil the language requirements needed for permanent residency. Free tuition awaits those with the patience to learn Norwegian, as public universities in Norway don’t charge students tuition fees, regardless of the student’s country of origin. 


While most language protection and promotion exercises tend to support one national language, Canada gives you the option of either English or French. Similar to the United

Kingdom and Norway, the path to citizenship require a level of language fluency to make Canada your home. 

The main difference between all these global language policies and practices and the Qatari law is that despite the extra paperwork, translation and localization required to do business in Qatar, you can still (for now) move to Qatar without needing to take any kind of Arabic language proficiency test. 

The future of language protection for Arabic-speaking nations

Qatar’s population has doubled in size in the past five decades by about 25 times” and if this trend in population growth is anything to go by, then could it be that Qatar might also one day want to make a case for a minimum Arabic language requirement for work and study? Or will Qatar’s Arabic law encourage other Arabic-speaking nations to follow suit? 

Educationally and culturally, Qatar continues to develop an Arabic-first approach to initiatives, events and activities across the nation. And we’re keen to see how the digitization of resources accelerates our collective ability to educate, work and play in our favourite language in the world.