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Learn the Basics: Common Arabic Words and Expressions in Dubai

Welcome to the vibrant and diverse city of Dubai, where cultures from all over the world come together in a melting pot of languages and traditions. If you’re planning a visit or looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, then learning some common Arabic words and expressions is a great way to connect with the people around you. From greetings to everyday phrases, we’ve got you covered with this beginner’s guide to speaking Arabic in Dubai. So grab your notebook and get ready to dive into the rich tapestry of language that makes this city so unique!


Dubai is a city that blends the rich cultural heritage of the Middle East with modernity and innovation. As the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has become a global hub for business, tourism, and trade. With an estimated 90% of its population being expats, it’s no surprise that Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in Dubai.

Whether you are planning to visit this bustling metropolis or looking to live and work here, having some basic knowledge of Arabic will greatly enhance your experience. In this blog post, we will introduce you to some common words and expressions in Arabic that you can use in everyday situations while in Dubai.

The Arabic language:

Arabic is a Semitic language spoken by over 300 million people worldwide. It is one of the six official languages recognized by the United Nations and is also the liturgical language of Islam. The Arabic script consists of 28 letters written from right to left, making it unique compared to other languages.

While there are many variations of Arabic spoken throughout different countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is used as a universal form for formal communication among all Arab speakers. However, colloquial forms vary from country to country, with Emirati dialect being primarily used in Dubai.


It’s always polite to greet someone when meeting them for the first time or entering a shop or establishment. In Arabic culture, greetings hold great importance as they signify respect and courtesy towards others.

The most common greeting used in Dubai is “As-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you), which comes from Islamic tradition but can also be used as a general greeting between Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The appropriate response would be “Wa alaykum as-salam” (and peace be upon you too).

Another commonly used greeting among locals is “Marhaba” (hello), which can be used in both formal and informal settings. “Sabah al-khair” (good morning) is also a common greeting, particularly in the morning hours.


In addition to greetings, there are some useful expressions that you should know while in Dubai. “Shukran” (thank you) is a must-know word that will come in handy during your stay. You can also use “Afwan” (you’re welcome) as a response to someone thanking you.

When asking for something or making a request, using “Min fadlak” (please) will show your politeness and respect towards others. And if you ever find yourself lost or needing directions, don’t hesitate to ask for help by saying “Ayna al-mafraq?” (where is the way?).


Learning some basic Arabic words and expressions before visiting Dubai will not only make your trip more enjoyable but also show your appreciation for the local culture. In the next section of our blog post, we will cover some essential phrases for

Why learn Arabic in Dubai?

There are countless reasons why learning Arabic in Dubai is an excellent choice for anyone looking to expand their language skills. Not only is it the official language of the United Arab Emirates, but it is also widely spoken and understood throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In fact, with over 420 million speakers worldwide, Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

For those living or working in Dubai, learning Arabic can greatly enhance your day-to-day experiences. As a multicultural city with residents from all corners of the globe, being able to communicate in Arabic can help you connect with people from different backgrounds and understand their culture more deeply.

Moreover, learning Arabic in Dubai provides unique opportunities for personal and professional growth. The city’s thriving business sector offers numerous job opportunities for bilingual individuals who are proficient in both English and Arabic. Being able to speak and understand this language will not only make you more marketable but also open doors to new career paths within the region.

In addition, immersing yourself in the local culture by learning Arabic can greatly enrich your overall experience in Dubai. From ordering food at a traditional restaurant to bargaining at a souk (market), speaking even just basic phrases can make a significant difference in how locals perceive and interact with you.

Aside from these practical benefits, there are also many cultural reasons to learn Arabic while living in Dubai. The UAE has a deep-rooted history and heritage that is reflected through its literature, art, music, and customs – all of which are best appreciated when one has a grasp on this beautiful language.

Furthermore, studying Arabic allows you to gain a deeper understanding of Islamic culture as well as religious texts such as the Quran. This knowledge can foster greater respect and appreciation for different beliefs and facilitate meaningful cross-cultural dialogue.

Perhaps most importantly though, learning Arabic is simply fun! With its unique script and challenging pronunciation, mastering this language provides endless opportunities for personal growth and intellectual stimulation. Plus, with the abundance of language schools and courses offered in Dubai, there are plenty of resources available to help you on your journey to fluency.

Learning Arabic in Dubai is not just about acquiring a new language but also about gaining a deeper understanding of the region’s culture and history. Whether for practical or personal reasons, studying Arabic in this vibrant city is an enriching experience that will undoubtedly broaden your horizons and open up a world of opportunities.

Commonly used Arabic words and phrases in everyday life

Arabic is the official language of Dubai and is widely spoken by its natives. While it may seem intimidating at first, learning a few basic words and phrases can greatly enhance your experience in this vibrant city. Here are some commonly used Arabic words and phrases that you are likely to encounter in your everyday life in Dubai.

One of the most important things to learn when visiting any country is how to greet people. In Arabic, “hello” is “marhaba” or “ahlan”. These words can be used in both formal and informal settings. To say “goodbye”, you can use “ma’a salama” or simply “bye”.

Courtesy Phrases:
It’s always polite to use some courtesy phrases while interacting with people in Dubai. The most common ones include “shukran” which means thank you, and “afwan” which means you’re welcome.

Basic Conversation Phrases:
To initiate a conversation with someone, you could start by asking them how they are doing by saying “kayf halak” for men or “kayf halik” for women, which translates to “how are you?”. If you want to introduce yourself, say “ismi [your name]”, meaning “my name is”.

Getting around Dubai can be overwhelming if you don’t know the language. To ask for directions, you could say “ayna almaktab?” (where is the school?) or “hal hunak majal kareeb min hon?” (is there a mall nearby?). Learning numbers would also come in handy when asking for addresses or prices.

Food Phrases:
If there’s one thing that Dubai is famous for, it’s its delicious food! To order food at a restaurant, start by saying “ana uridu…” followed by the dish or drink that you want. For example: ana uridu shai (I want tea). To express your appreciation for the food, say “tayib” which means delicious.

Essential Phrases:
There are a few phrases that you might need in case of an emergency. “Musa’ada” means help and “haram” is used to indicate something is prohibited. If you need to call the police, dial 999 or 998 for an ambulance.

Practice makes perfect:
While these are some of the commonly used words and phrases, it’s always best to practice speaking Arabic with native speakers to improve your skills. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as locals will appreciate your efforts in learning their language.

Familiarizing yourself with these basic Arabic words and phrases will not only make your stay in Dubai more enjoyable but also show respect towards its culture and people. So go ahead and start practicing!

  • Greetings and basic phrases

Greetings and basic phrases are the foundation of any language and can greatly enhance your interactions while in Dubai. Arabic, the official language of the United Arab Emirates, is a beautiful and complex language with a rich cultural history. Learning some common words and expressions will not only help you navigate through the city but also show respect to the locals.

One of the most important greetings in Arabic is “As-salamu alaykum,” which translates to “peace be upon you.” This phrase is used as a general greeting and can be used at any time of the day. The appropriate response to this greeting is “wa alaykum as-salam,” which means “and peace be upon you.” Using this phrase shows that you are acknowledging someone’s presence and wishing them well.

Another useful word to know is “Marhaba,” which means “hello” or “welcome.” It can be used when entering a shop or meeting someone for the first time. In response, one could say “Ahlan,” meaning “hello” or “welcome.”

When addressing someone older or in a position of authority, it is customary to use their title followed by their name. For example, if you meet someone named Mohammed who has an important job title such as CEO, it would be respectful to address them as “Mr. Mohammed.” Similarly, for female individuals, “Ms.” would be appropriate instead of “Mr.”

Politeness and manners hold great importance in Arabic culture; therefore, learning how to say “please” and “thank you” will go a long way. To say please in Arabic, use the word “min fadlak,” while thank you is “shukran.” These expressions should always accompany requests or after receiving something from someone.

Aside from greetings and pleasantries, knowing some basic phrases for everyday situations can come in handy while navigating through Dubai. If you need directions or help finding somewhere, you can say “Ayn al-maktab?” which translates to “Where is the office?” or “Hal tatahadath al-lugha al-ingiliziyya?” meaning “Do you speak English?”

While dining out, it’s always a good idea to know how to order food and drinks in Arabic. To ask for the menu, you can say “Al-ka’ika,” and when ordering food, use the phrase “Ana uridu…” followed by the name of the dish or drink you want.

Learning some basic words and expressions in Arabic will not only enhance your experience in Dubai but also show respect to its people and their culture. Practice using these greetings and phrases with locals as they are always happy to help visitors improve their language skills.

  • Numbers and counting

Numbers and counting are essential skills to learn when visiting Dubai, as they are used in everyday interactions and transactions. The Arabic numbering system is based on the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, which is also used in most countries around the world. However, unlike English where numbers are written from left to right, Arabic numbers are written from right to left.

Let’s start with the basic numbers from zero to ten:

0 – صفر (sifr)
1 – واحد (waahid)
2 – اثنين (ithnaan)
3 – ثلاثة (thalaatha)
4 – أربعة (arba’ah)
5 – خمسة (khamsa)
6 – ستة (sitta)
7 – سبعة (sab’aah)
8 – ثمانية (thamaaniya)
9 – تسعة(tisa’a)
10- عشرة (‘ashara)

As you can see, some of these words may seem longer and more complex compared to their English counterparts. This is because each number has a masculine and feminine form. The masculine form is used for counting objects or people while the feminine form is used for counting abstract concepts like time or money.

For example:

Masculine: واحد كتاب waahid kitaab – one book
Feminine: واحد دقيقة waahida daqiqa – one minute

When counting beyond ten, it’s important to know that Arabic follows a base 10 system just like English. In other words, the tens place comes before the ones place.

11- أحد عشر ‘ihda ‘ashar
20- عشرون ‘ishreen
30- ثلاثون thalaatheen
40- أربعون arba’eem
50- خمسون khamsheen
60- ستون sittin
70- سبعون sab’eem
80- ثمانين thamaaneen
90- تسعون tis’eem
100- مائة mi’ah

When counting beyond 100, the pattern continues with the hundreds place coming before the tens and ones places. For example:

143 – مائة وثلاثة وأربعين (mi’ah wa thalaata wa arba’eena) – one hundred and forty-three

In Arabic, there are also special words used to express larger numbers such as thousands, millions, and billions.

1,000 – ألف ‘alaf
1 million – مليون milyoon
1 billion – بليارد bilyaard

It’s important to note that in Arabic,

  • Directions and transportation

Directions and transportation are important aspects to consider when navigating through Dubai. With its vast network of roads, public transportation systems, and popular tourist destinations, it is essential to have a basic understanding of how to get around in this bustling city.

Firstly, let’s start with the most common mode of transportation in Dubai – taxis. Taxis are readily available throughout the city and can be easily hailed on the street or found at designated taxi stands. They are metered and charge a base rate of AED 3, with an additional AED 1.96 per kilometer traveled. Taxis in Dubai also have different colors indicating their availability – red for busy taxis, green for available ones, and yellow for airport taxis that charge a higher fare.

Another popular mode of transportation in Dubai is the metro system. The metro has two lines – the Red line and the Green line – which connect various parts of the city including popular tourist spots such as Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Palm Jumeirah, and Dubai Marina. The trains run from 5:00 am until midnight on weekdays (Saturday-Thursday) and from 10:00 am until midnight on Fridays. Metro fares range from AED 2-7 depending on distance traveled.

For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, buses are also available throughout Dubai. The bus network covers most areas of the city and operates from 5:00 am until midnight daily. Fares range from AED 2-6 depending on distance traveled.

If you prefer to travel by water, then you can hop onto one of Dubai’s abras (water taxis). These traditional wooden boats operate along designated routes across the creek connecting Deira to Bur Dubai. Abras run every few minutes between 5:00 am and midnight daily with fares starting at just AED 1 per person.

For those who prefer driving themselves around the city, car rental services are also widely available, with reputable companies such as Hertz, Avis, and Budget operating in Dubai. However, it is important to note that driving in Dubai can be quite hectic and may not be suitable for everyone.

In terms of directions, most street signs and road names in Dubai are written in both English and Arabic. Moreover, most smartphones have maps and navigation systems that can help you find your way around the city easily.

Getting around Dubai is relatively easy thanks to its efficient transportation systems. With a little research and planning, you can navigate through this vibrant city like a pro!

  • Food and dining

Food and dining are an integral part of the Arabic culture, and Dubai is no exception. With a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and street food options, Dubai offers a unique culinary experience that reflects its rich cultural heritage. Here are some common Arabic words and expressions related to food and dining that you should know before visiting Dubai.

  1. Shukran (شكراً) – Thank you

The first thing you need to know when it comes to dining in Dubai is how to express gratitude. Shukran is the most commonly used word for thank you in Arabic. It is often accompanied by a hand gesture where the right hand is placed on the heart as a sign of sincerity.

  1. Marhaba (مرحباً) – Hello

Marhaba means hello in Arabic, and it is a great way to greet your server or host at a restaurant before placing your order.

  1. Al-saha wa al’afya (الصحة والعافية) – Enjoy your meal

This phrase literally translates to “health and wellness,” but it is commonly used as a way to wish someone enjoyment while they are eating.

  1. Taa’aam (طعام) – Food

When browsing through menus or ordering at a restaurant, taa’aam will come in handy as it means food in Arabic.

  1. Ma’ ta-akulu? (ماذاتأكل؟) – What do you want to eat?

If you’re not sure what dishes to try or if there’s something specific you’re looking for, this question will be useful when asking for recommendations from your server or friends.

  1. Maza harajalik? (ماظه الحرج عليك؟)- What would you like?

Alternatively, this phrase can also be used when asking someone what they would like to eat or drink.

  1. Al-mashaheer (المشاهير) – Specialties

Be sure to ask about the al-mashaheer when dining in Dubai as it refers to the restaurant’s signature dishes or specialties.

  1. Halal (حلال) – Permissible/allowed

Halal is an important term to know as it refers to food and drinks that are permissible according to Islamic dietary laws. Most restaurants in Dubai serve halal food, but it is always best to confirm before ordering.

  1. Shawarma (شاورما) – Grilled meat wrap

One of the most popular street foods in Dubai, shawarma consists of grilled meat wrapped in pita bread with vegetables, pickles, and sauces.

  1. Kunafa (كنافة) – Sweet cheese pastry

No meal in Dubai is complete without trying some traditional Arabic sweets like kunafa, a delicious dessert made with shredded phyllo dough filled with sweet cheese and topped with syrup.

Now that you have familiarized

  • Shopping and bargaining

Shopping is an integral part of the Dubai experience, and it’s no secret that bargains can be found in almost every corner of the city. Whether you’re exploring traditional souks or modern malls, there are a few common Arabic words and expressions that will surely come in handy during your shopping adventures.

Firstly, let’s start with the basics – “shopping” itself is called تسوق (tasawwūq) in Arabic. This word can also be used as a verb to describe the act of shopping. For example, you could say “أنا ذاهب للتسوق” (Ana dhāhib liltasawwūq), which translates to “I am going shopping”.

When it comes to bargaining, haggling for a good deal is considered a cultural norm in many parts of the Middle East, including Dubai. The word for bargaining in Arabic is مساومة (musaāmah), but locals often use the term تفاصيل السعر (tafasīl al-saʿr) which literally means “price details”. It’s also common to hear sellers ask for مشترياتك (mushtaryātik), meaning “your purchases”, as they try to convince you to buy from them.

Now let’s move on to some useful phrases when negotiating prices. One key phrase is كم سعره؟(kam saʿruh?), which means “What is its price?”. You can use this phrase when asking about specific items or even general prices at a market stall or shop. Another helpful expression is بكم؟(bikam?), meaning “How much?”. This can be used when you want to bargain for a lower price or if you simply want to know the cost of something.

In many shops and markets, you will also come across the term اخر سعر (akhar saʿr), which translates to “last price”. This is often used when sellers are not willing to negotiate further. However, don’t be discouraged if you hear this phrase – it’s still worth trying to bargain for a better deal.

When you finally reach an agreement on a price, it’s important to confirm the amount in Arabic before making your purchase. You can say شكرا، هذا السعر جيد (shukran, hadha al-saʿr jayyid), which means “Thank you, this price is good”. This shows your appreciation for the deal while also solidifying the agreed-upon price.

With these basic Arabic words and expressions in hand, you’re now well-equipped to navigate the vibrant shopping scene of Dubai like a pro! Remember to use them with confidence and always be polite when bargaining. Happy shopping!

Cultural tips for using Arabic words in Dubai

Dubai is a culturally diverse city that welcomes people from all over the world. As a result, it has become a melting pot of different languages and dialects, including Arabic. While English is widely spoken and understood in Dubai, learning some basic Arabic words and expressions can greatly enhance your experience in this vibrant city.

However, as with any language, there are certain cultural considerations to keep in mind when using Arabic words in Dubai. Here are some tips to help you navigate through the cultural nuances of using Arabic language in this cosmopolitan city:

  1. Greetings: In Arab culture, greetings are an important part of daily interactions. When greeting someone in Dubai, it is customary to use the phrase “As-salam alaykum” which means “peace be upon you”. This traditional Islamic greeting is used by Muslims and non-Muslims alike as a sign of respect and courtesy. The appropriate response would be “Wa alaykum as-salam” which means “and peace be upon you too”.
  2. Gender-specific terms: In Arabic, there are different words for addressing males and females. For example, “habibi” is commonly used to address men and can loosely translate to “darling” or “my dear”, while “habibti” is used for women. It’s important to note these differences when addressing someone to avoid any confusion or offense.
  3. Politeness: The Arabic culture places great emphasis on politeness and respect towards others. Therefore, it’s always good practice to use polite phrases such as “shukran” (thank you) or “afwan” (you’re welcome) when interacting with locals.

4.Respectful terms: When referring to elders or people of authority, it’s important to use respectful titles such as “sheikh” (for men) or “sheikha” (for women). Similarly, when addressing someone with a professional or academic title, it’s customary to use the term “doctor” or “professor” followed by their last name.

  1. Hand gestures: Some hand gestures that may be considered innocent in other cultures can have negative connotations in Arabic culture. For example, pointing with your index finger is seen as rude, while using your whole hand to gesture is more polite. It’s always best to avoid any potentially offensive hand gestures and stick to verbal communication.

By keeping these cultural tips in mind, you can confidently use basic Arabic words and expressions in Dubai without causing any misunderstandings or unintentionally offending anyone. Practicing these cultural nuances will not only enhance your language skills but also show respect for the local culture and traditions of this diverse city.

Resources for learning Arabic in Dubai

Dubai is a melting pot of various cultures and languages, making it an ideal place to learn Arabic. With the increasing demand for Arabic speakers in the job market, there are numerous resources available in Dubai to help you learn this beautiful language. In this section, we will explore some of the best resources for learning Arabic in Dubai.

  1. Language Schools:
    Dubai is home to several reputable language schools that offer courses specifically designed for learning Arabic. These schools provide structured lessons from experienced teachers who can guide you through all aspects of the language – reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Some popular language schools in Dubai include Eton Institute, Berlitz Language Center, and Emirates Language Institute.
  2. Community Centers:
    Another great resource for learning Arabic in Dubai is community centers. These centers often offer affordable or even free classes taught by native speakers. They also provide a great opportunity to interact with other learners and practice your newly acquired skills.
  3. Online Courses:
    With technology at our fingertips, online courses have become a popular way to learn any language at your own pace and convenience. There are many websites and mobile applications such as Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and Babbel that offer comprehensive Arabic courses with interactive exercises and quizzes.
  4. Private Tutors:
    If you prefer one-on-one instruction or have specific learning goals, hiring a private tutor might be the best option for you. You can find qualified tutors through word-of-mouth recommendations or online platforms like Tutoroo or Preply.
  5. Cultural Institutes:
    Dubai has several cultural institutes that promote the study of Arabic among expats and tourists alike. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding offers workshops on Emirati culture along with basic Arabic lessons while Jumeirah Mosque offers guided tours with an introduction to Islamic customs and phrases.

6 .Language Exchange Programs:
Participating in a language exchange program where you can meet native Arab speakers who want to learn your native language can be a fun and effective way to improve your Arabic skills. You can find such programs through Meetup or Couchsurfing events in Dubai.

With a variety of resources available, learning Arabic in Dubai has never been easier. Whether you prefer traditional classroom instruction or a more modern approach, there is something for everyone. So why not take the first step towards mastering this beautiful language and immerse yourself in the rich culture of the UAE?


Learning some common Arabic words and expressions can greatly enhance your experience in Dubai, whether you are a tourist or planning to live there. From greeting someone with “Marhaba” to ordering delicious food with “Shukran,” incorporating these phrases into your daily interactions can also show respect for the local culture. So, take the time to learn a few key words and expressions before your next trip to Dubai and see how it enhances your overall experience. As they say, knowledge is power, and understanding some basic Arabic will open up opportunities for deeper connections and cultural immersion during your stay in this vibrant city.

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