Essential Phrases to Get By in Arab Countries
Do you ever picture yourself walking through the street bazaars in Cairo? Do you ever imagine what it’d feel like walk into the pool of one of Dubai’s most exclusive hotels? Or perhaps you would rather lie on a Moroccan beach… I definitely would. Whatever it is you picture yourself doing during your stay in an Arab country, there is one thing that you need to take care of before you even book your flight: learning a few essential Arabic phrases.
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In this blog, we will delve into the most useful Arabic expressions for making friends, shopping, getting help, and much more. So make sure you’re taking notes!
Must-know Arabic Phrases: common expressions for everyday use
Whether you’re travelling for work or pleasure, there are certain Arabic phrases you will need to know in order to cope with basic communications. From casual introductions to apologies and courtesies, we’ve got you covered!
Since you want to use these phrases for oral communications, we have decided not to use Arabic script this time and just go with Romanized spelling
Ma esmuka? — What is your name?
Esmi huwa — My name is …………
Kayfahaluka (Masculine ) / Haluki (Feminine) — How are you?
Ana jayyed (Mascukine ) / Jayyedah (Feminine) — I am fine
Shukran — Thanks
Afwan — You are welcome
Law samaht — Please
Arabic phrases to ask for help
With the Arabic phrases above, you can initiate simple exchanges and show friendliness in social situations. However, there may come a time when you will need to ask people to do something for you. Whether you just need to know where the bathroom is or you want to politely ask your interlocutor to speak more slowly, these Arabic phrases can save the day:
Mosa’adah! — Help!
Ayna al hammam? — Where is the bathroom?
Ayna mahatat al khedmah? — Where can I find a service station?
Hal yumkinuk altahaduth bishakl ‘abta min fadlika? — Can you speak more slowly?
Ana la atakallamu al arabiyyah — I don’t speak Arabic.
Kayfa taqul ………… belarabiyyah? — How do you say ………….. in Arabic?
Essential Arabic Phrases: Common Greetings
The Arabic language has at least one thing in common with English: they both have a vast repertoire of greetings. Depending on what time of day it is, you can say “Good morning”, “Good afternoon” or “Good evening”. But, in order to choose the best greeting, there is one more thing to consider besides the time on your watch: the level of formality that is expected for any given situation.
Let’s think of it this way. Though it’s perfectly normal to say “’Sup?” when you meet a friend, you wouldn’t say the same thing to your family in law the first time you see them, right?
In this sense, Arabic phrases are no different. So make sure you use the right greeting from the list below when you greet people in this language.
Arabic phrases: common informal greetings
Ahlan — Hi
Mahlan — Hey
Ma akhbarakura? — What’s up?
Kayfa tajri alumur? — How’s it going?
Arabic phrases: common formal greetings
Ana saeed belqa’ak (F) / Ana saeed beliqa’ak (M) — Nice to meet you
Sabah alkhayr — Good morning
Masa alkhayr — Good afternoon / Good evening
Atamanaa lak yawm saeid — Have a nice day
Arabic Phrases to Talk About Your Job
Of course, if you meet someone you really like, you’ll want to know more Arabic phrases so you can keep the conversation going beyond “hello” and “nice to meet you”.
Though you will probably have to resort to English at some point if things get too deep, at least your interlocutor will know that you did your best to communicate in their language.
With the Arabic phrases and words below, you can speak about your career and even inquire about what other people do for a living.
Ana… — I’m a…
Ana a’amalu ka — I work as a…
Tabeeb — Doctor
Mumaredhah (F) / Mumaredh (M) — Nurse
Rajul aemaal —
Rajul aemaal — Businessman
Sayidat al'aemal — Businesswoman
Yatbukh — Cook
Tabeeb bay tari — Veterinarian
Mudaris — Teacher
Albahith — Researcher
Saa’eq — Driver
Muwathaf fi matjar — Store clerk
Mutawir wib — Web developer
Arabic phrases: common survival expressions
Places like Istanbul, Jerusalem, and Petra are among the most beautiful destinations in the world. But this doesn’t mean that travelling is always fun. There may be times when you will have to say things like “I’ve lost my passport” or just make sure that you haven’t taken the wrong bus.
While we hope you have a smooth and happy stay, we also advise you to save these survival phrases just in case.
Hal tatakallam beler? — Can you speak English?
Anya al …………? — Where’s the …………?
Mahatat albas — Bus station
Mahatat alkitar — Train
Hamaam — Bathroom
Matar — Airport
La ajid — I cannot find ……..
Majmueati — My group
Funduqi — My hotel
Jawaz alsafar alkhasi bi — My passport
Hal tadhhab hadhih alhafilat ‘iilaa ………..? — Does this bus go to …………?
Hal Yumkenani estekhdam Hatefak? Innaha Halah Tare’a - Can I use your phone? There’s been an emergency.
By now, you should be able to introduce yourself in Arabic, engage in a simple conversation about jobs and occupations, and ask for help. But what will you do if you want to buy something and you have no idea how to ask for a price? How will you ask a waitress if they have vegan options on their menu?
No matter what communicative situation you find yourself in, the following Arabic phrases will surely get you out of trouble.
Kam yukalif hadha? — How much is this?
Uridu tadhkarah ela ……….. — I’d like a ticket to …………..
Hal ladayk 'ayu khiarat nabatiatin? — Do you have any vegan options?
Hal yumkinuni alhusul ealaa alshiyk min fadlika? — Can I have the bill, please?
Hal astutie aldafe biwasitat bitaqat aliaytimani? — Can I pay with a credit card?
Hal yumkinuk 'an tahadur li shakhs yatahadath al'iinjiliziata? — Can you get me someone who speaks English?
‘Ayn hu 'aqrab…? — Where is the nearest…
bank — bank
mustashfaa — hospital
qism alamin — police station
kafih — café
Although it would be impossible to include in one blog all the Arabic phrases you will need to know if you travel to an Arab country, we certainly hope you’ve found our little list helpful.
If you want to go beyond Arabic phrases and start working on your fluency and pronunciation, contact us now and we’ll match you with a qualified teacher for a one-to-one in-person or online course. Just tell us what your learning objectives are and we’ll be delighted to come up with a tailored lesson plan to help you get there as soon as possible.