Monday, July 28, 2008

Sharjah Does Away With "Arabic" Numbers

Um, we (the Emirate of Sharjah) are doing away with Arabic numerals because we are chasing after money and English numbers are popular with our expatriate community we want to be in line with international standards [source].

Um, but sorry, we are not really doing away with Arabic numbers you see?

Because, er, English numbers are also Arabic.

Yes! See, as long as English numbers are being used, you are also using Arabic numbers! There we go.

PS. What about it originally being "Hindu" numbers? Sshhh!

For an "explanation" read this.

Most profound comment:

Abdullah Binayaf, a Dubai resident, wrote in with a similar correction. He said: "Readers should understand why several emirates in the UAE are dropping Indian numerals from number plates. By doing so, they are actually preserving the original Arabic numerals."

Previous examples of Middle East intelligence here.


Sumera said...

Retaining Arabness? Hmmmm...

Chester said...

HapiBlogging to you my friend! Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Well I think it is the number system that is Indian, Basically the decimal system with the 0.

The numerals are different in different languages. Arabic, English, Bengali etc.

Very ofter the number system is confused with numbers.

Sharjah has just changed the script from Arabic to English.

What do you expect from people who name their roundabouts 'square'.

MZ said...

I know only English, arabic and roman numbers. What about Indians?

Miss Specs said...

WoW, considering the amount of backlash, i'm surprised so many people knew the whole history of numbers.

Only an Arab nation could take offense at such a thing and call it 'an insult to Arabs'!

mezba said...

Sumera: In one way it's true - MOST of the people who live in UAE do come from South Asia (India/Pakistan/Bangladesh) so the numbers are representative of the people.

Chester: Well, er, happy blogging to you too.

Anon, 12.52: What do you expect from people who name their roundabouts 'square


that still has me ROFL.

mezba said...

MZ: Well our original numbering system was supposed to have originated with the Indians. So our 1,2,3 is actually Indian numeric system adapted by Arabs (by adding a 0).

Miss Specs: You know, I would just keep the Arabic script. If you live in a country you should know some of the basic language, right? I am surprised that Sharjah, as one of the cultural centres of Arabia, is doing away with Arabic.

Rumbold said...

They are known as Arabic numerals because they were adopted by the Italian city states (especially Genoa and Venice) from the Holy Land, in order to produce clearer accounts, as Roman numerals can become rather unwieldy.

mezba said...

Rumbold: the thing is - Sharjah has decided to go English (script) and the linguists are being comforted that they are "Arabic" numbers. In my opinion they should have mantained both, at least.

Rumbold said...


I agree. While increasing use of English benefits English speakers, it does led to an increasingly homogenized style of writing, which I am not sure is a good thing.

mezba said...

It could be that mankind is once again moving towards homogenousenity.