In a boon to Indian immigrants, Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has made Hindi as the third official language used in its court, along with English and Arabic.
The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) announced on Twitter that it “has extended the adoption of interactive forms of statement of claims filed before courts by including the Hindi language alongside Arabic and English in labour cases, thus, allowing foreigners to learn about litigation procedures, their rights and duties without a language barrier, in addition to facilitating registration procedures via unified forms available through ADJD website”.
What this means for Indians in Abu Dhabi
This simply means that if an Indian, especially a labourer, needed to engage with the law- an already complex subject- in Abu Dhabi, they could do so in a familiar language. They will also have access to language on their rights and duties as workers in Abu Dhabi and be able to carry out necessary procedures and formalities in Hindi.
Khaleeja Times reported that Yousef Saeed Al Abri, undersecretary of the ADJD, said, “The adoption of multilingual interactive forms for claim sheets, grievances and requests, aims to promote judicial services in line with the plan Tomorrow 2021, and increase the transparency of litigation procedures.”
Indian labourers can now lodge complaints about delayed wages, bonuses, compensation for arbitrary layoffs, notice periods and annual leaves, end of service entitlements, claims for air tickets, and passport returns reports Gulf News. Indian labourers can also request a lawyer online. These forms can be downloaded from the department website at www.adjd.gov.ae/AR/Pages/courts/LaborCourt_H.pdf.
Al Abri added that Hindi was introduced to not only simply public procedures but also raise the legal awareness and ensure maximum access to legal materials as part of “global judicial service”.
According to Al Abri, the adoption of Hindi as an official language is part of a “bilingual litigation system”- Plan Tomorrow 2021- that was launched in November 2018. The programme first required plaintiffs to translate case documents in civil and commercial lawsuits into English, if the defendant is a foreigner.
In 2018, the ADJD also announced the establishment of a labour court in Abu Dhabi dedicated to cases related to labour and contract work.
Indian immigration to UAE
Reports say that around two-thirds of UAE’s population- nine million people- are immigrants. The Indian demographic is also a pretty hefty chunk of the total country’s population: 30% or almost 3 million. Gulf News adds that Indians are the “largest expatriate community in the UAE.”
This initiative by Abu Dhabi is a positive one aimed at inclusion, when major countries around the world like the U.S. and UK are shying away from the same not only in mindset but also in policy.
Rhea Arora is a staff writer at Qrius.