An Expat's 9(ish) First Words/Phrases in Saudi Arabia

When Westerners go to Saudi Arabia, there are a few Arabic words or phrases that they pick up very quickly. These are a mix of colloquialisms and pleasantries:

Humdilalah = "Praise be to God." Similarly, in the West you hear, "Thank God."

Inshallah = "God Willing." This phrase is commonly used, and simply refers to a hope that an event or outcome will occur. Interestingly, on a trip to the airport in Qatar, I also heard the phrase used by parents with their little children who were requesting treats and toys, much in the way a parent in North America would say, "We'll see." Or as Tariqq Al-Meena wrote in a December 31, 2010 Arab News article, "You ask a Saudi colleague to come to your house for dinner. His response is "Inshaallah". What does this mean? Inshaallah-God Willing? Inshaallah — Yes? Inshaallah — No? Inshaallah — Maybe? Inshaallah —Yes, if nothing better comes up? Inshaallah — No way man? Inshaallah — No, but I'm too polite to tell you?"

Shukran = "Thank you." A great phrase to know in any language.

Min Fadlak/Min Fadlik = "Please." The slight difference (lak/lik) is due to the difference in addressing a male or a female.

La = "No"

Aiwa/Naam = "Yeah"/"Yes"

Maasalama = "Good-bye." This is also heard when a colleague is leaving, as there is often a "maasalama party" or a "maasalama sale" - basically a yard sale in which a person sells things they won't be bringing home with them, e.g., DVD players.

Mushkala and Mafee Mushkala = "Problem" and "No Problem." May you encounter more "mafee mushkalas" than "mushkalas" in your travels!

Mafee Feloos = "No money" - a good phrase to know when you're haggling for gold in the souqs, and hope that they'll come down a bit in price.

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