Lebanese Minister of Culture Gaby Leon Beirut – Riyad Shoman The Annual International Conference of the Arabic Language was launched by Lebanese Minister of Culture Gaby Leon in Beirut on Monday. The conference was organised by the Arabic Language International Council and was attended by Arab and foreign diplomats, members of Arab scientific societies and university professors. After the national anthem, Dr. Ali Bin Abdullah Al-Moussa delivered a speech in which he said: “Arabic language, I greet you, and I love you, for you are the home and the beloved.” He praised Lebanon and thanked those who participated in establishing the Arabic Language International Council. Al-Moussa revealed that the participants of the annual conference this year belonged to 45 countries. The Arab Bureau of Education speech was delivered by Dr. Ali Abdel-Khalek Al-Qarni. He considered the Arabic language distinctive, however, he expressed his fears about the position of the Arabic language today. The UNESCO speech was delivered by Dr. Hamad Al-Hamamy, representing the Director-General of UNESCO. He believed that the multilingualism was important to facilitate the fight against discrimination, and it was an essential factor for dialogue between cultures. “The Arabic language is an ancient language that conveys heritage, and it is a sacred language for Muslims around the world,” said Al-Hamamy. Dr. Mamdouh Mouselli, who represented the Arab League, praised Beirut for being the capital of culture, books, and literature. He thanked Lebanese president Michel Suleiman for sponsoring the conference and conveyed the greeting of the Arab League Secretary-General to all the participants. He said: “The Arabic language is uniting the Arabs”, and added that “Arabic is a rich language that the ancient Arabs excelled in using it in all the scientific and literary fields”. Minister Leon then delivered his speech. He mentioned that Lebanese people were proud and honoured to be native speakers of the language. He said it was "Lebanese’s mother tongue and the womb that they are formed in". Leon added that Lebanese writers and thinkers have struggled for the Arabic language and participated in the battle to preserve it. He called on the Arabic Language International Council to the sustain its activities to establish and strengthen links with the private and public education institutions and with cultural civil society institutions.