In a development that doesn't surprise me but will probably surprise anyone who hasn't been following developments in the Gulf, an educationalist is warning that Arabic is threatened in Qatar, and some Arab children are growing up not speaking it. Recall that Qataris are a rather small minority in Qatar, outnumbered by guest workers from all over the world, mainly from South Asia (especially Kerala), the Arab world, and the Philippines. English has become very much a lingua franca there, and much of the population speaks it far better than Arabic, if they speak Arabic at all.
Qatari children's exposure to English often begins soon after birth, with the hiring of a nanny who is unlikely to speak much if any Arabic, and certain not to speak the Gulf dialect - or as Ms. Al Misnad put it, "the education of the children is left to foreign housemaids, who teach their own language and customs." It continues at school, where about two-thirds of their fellow students are non-Qatari (in practice probably less, due to many expat kids attending expat schools); English is a mandatory subject from first grade up, and the many American universities opening campuses in Qatar are commonly English-medium (for instance, CMU.) In short, it's easy to lead a fairly full life in Qatar with little Arabic, and easy to envision Qatari kids of this generation acquiring English natively.
However, apart from other issues like not giving any statistics or details, the article suffers from the common conflation of classical and colloquial Arabic. "In addition, parents would rather talk to their children in the dialect of their country of origin rather than in classical Arabic, a factor which is also contributing to a general decline in the understanding of the classical language" - as if parents have ever talked to their children in classical Arabic for the past millennium, or as if it were desirable that the children should grow up not speaking their own dialects!
Review of The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
5 hours ago