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Countries: Afghanistan Bahrain Indonesia Iraq Saudi Arabia Kuwait Lebanon Malaysia Thailand UAE
Language: Arabic


Afganistan

Pashtu and Dari (Afghan Persian/Farsi) are the official languages of Afghanistan. Pashtu (also written Pushtu) was declared the National Language of the country during the beginning of Zahir Shah's reign. However, Dari has always been used for business and government transactions. Both belong to the Indo-European group of languages.

According to estimates, approximately 35% of the Afghan population speaks Pashtu, and about 50% speaks Dari. Turkic languages (Uzbek and Turkmen) are spoken by about 11% of the population. There are also numerous other languages spoken in the country (Baluchi, Pashai, Nuristani, etc.), and bilingualism is very common.

Bahrain

Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, but English is widely spoken. It is used in business and is a compulsory second language in schools. Among the non-Bahraini population, many people speak Farsi, the official language of Iran, or Urdu, the official language of Pakistan.

Arabic is spoken by almost 200 million people in more than 22 countries. It is the language of the Qur'an, the Holy Book of Islam, and of Arab poetry and literature. While spoken Arabic varies from country to country, classical Arabic has remained unchanged for centuries. The Arabic language originated in Saudi Arabia in pre-Islamic times and spread across the Middle East during the 7th and 8th centuries. The official language of Bahrain is Modern Standard Arabic, a modernized form of classical Arabic. It is used in schools, for official purposes and for written communication within the Arabic-speaking international community. In Bahrain, there are differences between the dialects spoken in urban areas and those spoken in rural areas.

Indonesia

The official language of Indonesia is known as Indonesian or 'Bahasa Indonesian'. Indonesian is a standardized dialect of the Malay language and was formulated at the time of the declaration of Indonesian independence in 1945. Malay and Indonesian remain very similar.

Although the official language, in reality it is most of the population's second language. Due to the sheer size and fractured, island make-up of the country most people speak regional dialects such as Minangkabau or Javanese. These will usually be spoken at home and in the local community but at work or at school Indonesian is used.

Iraq

The official language of Iraq is Arabic. Many other languages are spoken by a variety of ethnic groups, most notably Kurdish. “Iraqi Arabic” (also known as Mesopotamian Arabic [Mesopotamian Qeltu Arabic, Mesopotamian Gelet Arabic, Baghdadi Arabic, Furati, 'Arabi, Arabi, North Syrian Arabic) is a variety of Arabic spoken in the Mesopotamian basin of Iraq south of Baghdad as well as in neighbouring Iran and eastern Syria.

The need to save face and protect honour means that showing emotions is seen negatively. Displays of anger are a serious no-no. If you must show disapproval it is always best to do so in a one-to-one, quietly and with tact.

Always keep your word. Do not make a promise or guarantee unless you can keep it. If you want to show a commitment to something but do not want to make caste iron assurances then employ terms such as “I will do my best,” “We will see,” or the local term “insha-Allah” (God willing).

Saudi Arabia

Arabic is the official language of Saudi Arabia, but English is widely spoken. It is used in business and is a compulsory second language in schools. Among the non-Saudi population, many people speak Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, and other Asian languages such as Farsi and Turkish.

Arabic is spoken by almost 200 million people in more than 22 countries. It is the language of the Qur'an, the Holy Book of Islam, and of Arab poetry and literature. While spoken Arabic varies from country to country, classical Arabic has remained unchanged for centuries. In Saudi, there are differences between the dialects spoken in urban areas and those spoken in rural areas.

Kuwait

Arabic is the official language of Kuwait, but English is widely spoken. It is used in business and is a compulsory second language in schools. Among the non-Kuwaiti population, many people speak Farsi, the official language of Iran, or Urdu, the official language of Pakistan.

Arabic is spoken by almost 200 million people in more than 22 countries. It is the language of the Qur'an, the Holy Book of Islam, and of Arab poetry and literature. While spoken Arabic varies from country to country, classical Arabic has remained unchanged for centuries. In Kuwait, there are differences between the dialects spoken in urban areas and those spoken in rural areas.

Lebanon

Article 11 of Lebanon's Constitution states that "Arabic is the official national language. A law determines the cases in which the French language may be used". The majority of Lebanese people speak Arabic and either French or English fluently. Moreover, Lebanese people of Armenian or Greek descent also speak Armenian or Greek fluently. Also in use is Kurdish spoken by some of the Kurdish minorities in Lebanon, and Syriac by the Syriac minorities. Other languages include Circassian, spoken by 50,000, Tigrinya (30,000), Sinhala (25,000), Turkish (10,000), Azerbaijani (13,000), Polish (5,000), Russian and Romanian (together 10,000 speakers), and Turkmen (8,000 speakers).

Malaysia

The Malay language is an Austronesian language spoken not only by Malaysians but all Malay people who reside in the Malay Peninsula, southern Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, central eastern Sumatra, the Riau islands, parts of the coast of Borneo, Cocos and Christmas Islands in Australia. It is also very similar to Indonesian, known locally as Bahasa Indonesia. In Malaysia, the language is officially known as Bahasa Malaysia, which translates as the "Malaysian language". The term, which was introduced by the National Language Act 1967, was predominant until the 1990s, when most academics and government officials reverted to "Bahasa Melayu," which is used in the Malay version of the Federal Constitution.

Thailand

The Thai language is comprised of 44 consonants, 32 vowels and five tones in Thai pronunciation, along with a script that has Indian origins. The Thai language, belonging to the Tai family, is the main language in Thailand although there are several regional dialects as well. Other languages spoken in Thailand are Chinese, Lao, Malay and Mon-Khmer, while English use is becoming more prevalent in government and commerce. English is also being taught as a second language in secondary school and universities, which enables the English speaking visitor in Thailand to have little trouble conversing.

UAE

The most common greeting in the Gulf is Salam alaykum (‘Peace be upon you’), and the correct reply to which is Wa alaykum as-salam (‘And upon you be peace’). Other common greetings and the accepted replies are:

Greeting Meaning Reply
Ahlan wa sahlan Hello Ahlan bik
Sabah al-khayr Good morning / afternoon Sabah an-nur
Masa al-khayr Good evening Masa an-nur

Note that 'tisbah ala-khayr', meaning ‘good night’, is said on parting, as in English, and the reply is 'wa inta min ahlu'.

Arabic

The Arabic phrases presented here are most applicable to the Gulf states such as Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

Category English Arabic
Basics I Ana
You (singular) Inta/Inti (male/female)
You (Plural) Untum/Inti (male/female)
He Huwa
She Hiya
We Nahnu
They Uhum
Yes Aiwa/Na’am
No La
May be Mumkin
Please Min Fadhlik
Thank you Shukran
You are welcome Afwan
Excuse me Lo Tismah
Ok Tayib
No Problem Mafi Mushkila
Greetings Hello As-salam alaykum
Hello (response) Wa alaykum e-salam
Goodbye (person leaving) Ma’a salam
Goodbye (person staying) Alla ysalmak
Good Morning Sabah ala-kheir
Good Afternoon Masa’ al-kheir
Good Night Tisbah ala-kheir
Welcome Ahlan wa sahlan OR marHaba
Small talk How are you? Kef Halak?
Fine Thanks Zein al-Hamdulillah
What’s your name? Shismak?
My name is Ismi
I understand Ana fahim
I do not understand La afham
I speak Ana atakallam
Do you speak Titkallam
English Inglizi
French Fransawi
German Almani
I do not speak Arabic Ma-atakallam Arabi
Getting Around Where is (the)…? Wein (al-)…?
Airport Al-matar
Bus stop Mokaf al-bas
Bus station maHattat tax
Bus Bas
Car Sayyara
Horse Hsan
Camel Jamal
Directions Address Onwan
Street Shari’
Number Ragam
City Madina
Here Hni
There Hnak
Next to Yam
Opposite gbal/mgabel
Behind Wara
To Min
Signs Entry Dukhol
Exit Khurui
Toilet (men) Hammam lirrijal
Toilet (women) Hammam linnisa'a
Hospital mustashfa
Police shurta
Days Monday yom al-idhnayn
Tuesday yom al-dhaladh
Wednesday yom al-arba'
Thursday yom al-khamis
Friday yom al-jama'a
Saturday yom as-sabt
Sunday yom al-Had
Numbers Zero Sifr
One waHid
Two Idhnin
Three Dhladha
Four Arba’a
Five Khamsa
Six Sitta
Seven Sab’a
Eight Dhimania
Nine Tis’a
Ten Ashra