Careers for graduates with a degree in Arabic were just appearing on the horizon several decades ago. I remember being amazed that a classmate of mine was taking Arabic in college instead of French or Spanish like the rest of us. He was one of only a very few foreign service or linguistic students at my university who perhaps saw what was coming. In addition to being very challenging language to undertake the full significance of its importance in international affairs during the last quarter of the 20th Century and the first decade of the 21st had not yet been realized. How things have changed in just a few decades.
U. S. Government Positions. According to a report by the U. S. Government Accountability Office, as of 2008 the U. S. lacked Foreign Service officers with the capacity to communicate effectively in the native language in several global areas. Among Arab countries the U. S. some 39% of officers skilled in the Arab tongue needed were lacking. Recruiting from among graduates with a degree in Arabic to fill this large gap continues.
For those interested in government foreign service, earning a degree in Arabic can really be a golden key that opens the door to the kind of life time career you are seeking.
International Organizations. With more than 300 million people in the world speaking Arabic, the value of a degree in Arabic and the ability to converse, write and read in that language can also open the door to a host of exciting jobs. International Organizations like the U. N , international aid and development agencies and the World Bank are in constant need of people in the office and on the ground that can communicate in Arabic.
In the Middle East and North Africa where political turmoil seems to be the order of the day, one key instrument to better understanding and communication among all people can be a shared language. For this reason international non-governmental organizations of every kind are in need of graduates with a degree in Arabic who can build bridges of understanding and respect. Conversing with local people in their own language, in the language of Islam among Muslims, can be both a sign of respect and a way to avoid misunderstanding.
Oil and More. When American Oil interests first helped open oil fields in Saudi Arabia there could not have been any idea of how gigantic the ripple effect of these first drillings might one day be. But today American oil concerns and many other business interests have considerable financial interests in lands where Arabic is the language spoken by the people.
It is to the benefit of American business interests in the Middle East to have staff on board who are fluent in the Arabic language so that business can be carried out efficiently and without miscue. Graduates with a degree in Arabic who also have a business degree or experience are valuable commodities to major firms. Your ability to communicate in Arabic will maximize your chances at a business position that does a major proportion of its business in the Middle East.
Professional Positions. It’s easy but incorrect to assume that the only positions for graduates with a degree in Arabic are to be found in U. S. government, international agency or big business positions. People who live in countries where Arabic is the primary language are also in need of professionals who can work and teach in the fields of medicine, law, journalism and banking.
If you couple an undergraduate degree in Arabic with additional professional training you may open the door to working in your professional specialty in developing countries in the North Africa and the Middle East. You may also open up chances to work in the United States in colleges and universities that are beginning to answer the need for more graduates with a degree in Arabic.
It doesn’t take a degree in foreign service or political science to recognize that the immediate future of our own nation is tightly tied to the future development and stability of the Middle East and North Africa. Having a degree in Arabic can put you in the driver’s seat if you have an interest in being an active part of that future.
Government Accountability Office (GAO )