Official Languages of the Abu Dhabi Courts: Hindi
The UAE is a highly diverse nation with a large population of expatriates. With a population of over 9 million, 70-80% are from foreign countries and as such, will likely speak languages other than Arabic. While Arabic is the primary official language, the high proportion of foreigners is a factor that is recognized by the government, and English has been the second language for many years now.
A group of expats that is present in large numbers in the UAE is Indians. With the population of Indian expats being around 3 million, they are at majority by accounting for approximately 35% of the total population. However, their primary language is neither Arabic nor is it English, but rather, it is Hindi. Hindi is not only one of the most popular languages in the UAE, but also the world as a whole.
With this considered, Abu Dhabi has recently decided to introduce Hindi as one of the primary languages used in courts.
Why the New Language?
With such a high population of Indians in the country, as well further populations that may favor or be at greater ease with Hindi over English or Arabic, it is essential for the courts to cater to them. Court cases often have significant implications for people’s lives and livelihoods, and so to be in the best position possible, greater understanding should be a fundamental aim of the courts to all parties.
Further, this will allow for a greater understanding of one's rights and obligations. In many ways, the system, to function optimally, must consider that Hindi speakers will be found in many stations and will have different levels of awareness of the law.
In general, this change is one which will be much appreciated and will allow for a more stable and considerate legal and court system to develop. While it is beginning in Abu Dhabi, there are few downsides to the introduction, and with good reception, it will likely spread across the rest of the country too.