Yes, oui can: Why Arab News is launching in French
“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams ... What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.”
Heard by someone coming from our part of the world, those words can easily be associated with our Arab literary heritage. Yet they belong to “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French writer, poet, journalist and passionate pioneering aviator who went missing. He died exploring new horizons. The little prince, however, with his innocent pugnacity, lived on.
Ideas, cultures and ideals that prevail are those whose languages naturally build bridges of knowledge, taking them beyond their boundaries.
Launching Arab News in French on Bastille Day is neither a coincidence nor a marketing operation. Regardless of where ideals that have contributed to the progress of humanity come from, they deserve to be celebrated. True, Bastille Day is the French National Day and belongs first and foremost to the French nation. But it also marks the triumph of the motto “liberté, égalité, fraternité” — a simple slogan from 1789 whose universality remains uncontested.
From the Declaration of Human and Civic Rights adopted by revolutionary France back then, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 that symbolizes democratic ideals and freedoms, France’s fingerprints are there. France’s heritage has become part of humanity’s DNA.
Back in 1993, during the negotiation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades, Paris dared to introduce the concept of “cultural exception” to proudly protect culture, arts and artists from the fierce global market competition. This concept is now on every tongue to best describe the originality and creativity of today’s French cultural output across the board.
Launching a French-language service for Arab News generates from the very simple fact that every success does not necessarily have to be “mainstream.” We are conscious of the challenge, but we have the required audacity. We do so because we believe that gates of culture, communication, business and information should remain open. We also do so because we believe that French-speaking communities, regardless of their geographical locations, deserve to know more about us, from us and in their language.
It is time that culture, information and opportunities are shared first hand without a filter. This, we trust, is our little path towards a genuine exchange that generates hope for a better future and better communication.
After months of confinement and isolation, and in the midst of the disastrous economic consequences that we are promised in the aftermath of COVID-19, we are launching. It is a message of hope from us to our readers because we are not “candide” adopting Voltaire’s approach of optimism as “the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.”
The last word has to go to the amazing team that has made this launch possible, despite all the challenges that COVID-19 has placed in our way!