I got a message today from the MOI and I was impressed. Not that the Ministry of Interior had sent me a message. But that is was in Arabic and English.
For a struggling Arabic learner (and given I'm into my seventh year here and still can't string an Arabic sentence together that other Arabs understand entitles me to the label 'struggling', though I don't think it prudent as this point to debate the reasons for the struggle - they could make me look bad), it is fabulous that in a text message I could have a go at deciphering the Arabic text and check it against the English at the same time without having to copy and paste to Google Translate, which is usually what I have to do, when I can be bothered.
Sure, the translated English sentence may not have been perfect, (a better sentence would be - the MOI wish you a pleasant and safe stay), but I don't care. What matters is that because the message was dual-lingual (is that a word?), the whole experience of receiving a message in Arabic was much less frustrating for me than usual.
The Saudi based telecoms or Banks that send me emails and text messages gave me the option, when I signed up, of receiving their messages in either English or Arabic. And though I chose English, they send it in Arabic anyway. All the other spammers don't give me options, they just blithely send me crap in Arabic that I'm fairly certain I didn't ask for and that I can't understand.
If I do want to read lengthy Arabic messages I have to wait till I get to WiFi to copy and paste the text into Google Translate because accessing internet from my mobile via cellular data is ekky. (Hang on, is that the mobile company's ploy all along - send me a message I can't read and have me pay extra to figure it out!)
Of course, if I don't get to WiFi till later in the day my motivation for Cut and Paste translation is fairly low, so often Arabic only text messages are deleted without being understood at all and, depending on my frame of mind, with just a little bit of irritation that I'm receiving the stupid things in the first place.
So thank you MOI. I loved your dual language message.
It did make me wonder if English was the only other language you deliver your messages in. Do you deliver in French, German or Chinese as well? I'm aware there are a number of expats who hail from those countries living in Saudi right now who might also get a buzz out of receiving your message in their native language.
Although I'm not going to Haj, I appreciate, along with all those who are going, the Ministry's concern and the fact they let me know in a language I understand and I just thought I'd let everybody know how ridiculously happy that made me feel. Sharing the love.