These are very handy indeed for dealing with (slightly) multilingual texts in your basic monoglot-American computing environment. ASCII, remember, qualifies as Unicode, in its UTF-8 flavor. Suppose you live in an ASCII world, and your name is Tim Bray, and you really need to include the Arabic version of your name in some document. Nothing to it, just say:
Of course, numeric character references do not provide a real solution, for example, to the problem of writing an all-Arabic document. For that, you'd need an XML-enabled Arabic word processor.
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