The State of Qatar’s approach to protecting and promoting the use of the Arabic language is clear; legislations obliging all governmental and non-governmental organizations to promote and protect the Arabic language, in addition to hundreds of national, regional and international initiatives strengthening and supporting the use of the Arabic language. In this article, the author will focus on the introduction of the main legal avenues for the protection of the Arabic language and the effect of this protection on local and foreign companies. Additionally, the author will discuss the use of the Arabic language in arbitration and arbitral proceedings in the State of Qatar.
Law number (7) of the year (2019) on the protection of the Arabic language:
The law entered into force in January 2019 and consists of a chapter containing 15 articles. The law obliges all governmental and non-governmental organizations to protect and support the Arabic language in all their events and activities. The law clearly states that all legislation in Qatar must be written in the Arabic language. Article (4) specifies in particular that the Arabic language is the official language of the following:
- Conversations, negotiating memoranda and correspondence with foreign states, entities, regional and international organizations and official conferences.
- Covenants, agreements and contracts to which the State and other States, entities, regional and international organizations are parties.
Internally, all ministries, government agencies and public entities and organizations, private organizations and associations, must conduct their meetings, discussions, publications (decisions, regulations, instructions, documents), contracts, correspondence, appointments, advertisements (with sound and visuals) in the Arabic language.
In the academic field, the provisions of the law stipulated the urgency of using the Arabic language as the first language in universities and all higher education entities. In addition, all research, studies and dissertations must be published in the Arabic language, however, and in the event that another language has been used, an Arabic language summary must be provided.
In the commercial field, the law – Article (8) – requires that companies with commercial, financial, industrial, scientific and recreational purposes bear Arabic names. However, international and local companies and institutions with a recognized international reputation and registered trademarks can keep the foreign name and have it written in Arabic next to the name in the original language.
In addition, the law stipulated that trademarks and trade names must be written in Arabic. The Arabic language should be indicated significantly wherever another language is used. Data and information on Qatari products must be presented in Arabic and followed by translations into other languages.
The law also provided for penalties in articles (11 and 12) according to which violation of articles (2/2nd paragraph), (5/2nd paragraph) (8) (9) (10) is punishable by a maximum fine of QAR50,000.
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 the arbitration unless their arbitration agreement prevents them from doing so. However, in case of disagreement on the language of the arbitration; the court must decide which language(s) to use.
Articles (26 and 28) of the QFC (Qatar Financial Center) Arbitration Rules provide that the parties may agree on the language of arbitration, in addition to the jurisdiction conferred on the Tribunal to determine the language of arbitration at where the parties cannot agree. . Law number (7) of 2019 on the protection and support of the use of the Arabic language can be used in favor of the choice of the Arabic language as the language of arbitration, as it establishes a clear guideline on the approaches of the legislator and state to support the Arabic language in the State of Qatar, besides the constitution which clearly mentions Arabic as the first official language of the country. The above can be used as a guideline for the tribunal and as an argument for the party favoring the Arabic language over other languages, but cannot be considered binding as the relevant laws and regulations of the arbitration were clear to this subject.