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Langues et développement - Bibliographie

Multilingualism and the role of English in the United Arab Emirates

Last Updated: 23 Jun 2020

Peter Siemund

Ahmad Al‐Issa

Jakob R. E. Leimgruber

First published: 03 June 2020


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has witnessed an unprecedented economic and cultural development since its foundation in 1971. Foreign labor and investment play a central role in this development, yielding a sharp imbalance between the Emirati and the foreign population. A population of no less than 85 per cent of highly transient foreigners strongly impacts the local linguistic landscape, with many languages competing in the public sphere. English occupies a special role in this multilingual texture, as it is used as a foreign language, a second language, and a lingua franca. It occurs in its standardized varieties, but also in several non‐standard forms, as foreign labor is recruited from places formerly under British or American influence. Based on a new questionnaire study of 689 university students, we explore the tension between English and Arabic, the prominence of English, the increasing use of English as a home language, and the emergence of a new variety of English: ‘Gulf English’. Full text... >>>>>