Arabic is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and a language considered critical by the U.S. government. Today 350 million people living in 20 countries speak Arabic as their native language. The countries extend from the Arabian Gulf on the Asian continent in the east to the countries of North Africa in the west. The spoken dialects of the 20 countries are often grouped into four major dialects: Gulf (Arabian peninsula), Levantine (eastern Mediterranean), Egyptian, and Maghrebi (northwestern Africa). Some of the spoken varieties of Arabic are mutually unintelligible.
Modern Standard Arabic is the only official form of Arabic that is used in most written documents, lectures and broadcasts. Modern Standard Arabic uses a non-Latin alphabet script that is written from right to left, and is highly phonetic. Although Arabs of different countries use a variety of dialects, Modern Standard Arabic provides students with the necessary tools to communicate and interact with most speakers of Arabic.
The Arabic Language Program at Rice offers a three-year academic program of studies. The courses offered through CLIC guide students to understand the Arabic-speaking culture and society through our focus on language awareness and critical language analysis. The Arabic program at Rice CLIC is designed to teach Modern Standard Arabic as well as colloquial Arabic of the Levant.
Arabic is one of the options that fulfills the language requirements for the Asian Studies major offered by the Chao Center for Asian Studies and for the Linguistics major offered by the Rice Linguistics Department.