Basic Arabic Phrases

Arabic is part of the Semitic language family, and estimates of native speakers range from between 186 million to 422 million people, plus as many as 246 million non-native speakers. It is the official language in 25 countries, and the third most common after English and French. An evolving language, Arabic has 27 sub-languages, while Modern Standard Arabic is widely used and studied. Arabic has "loaned" words to other languages, including European languages like English, Italian, and Spanish, and has also borrowed from other languages.

The hospitals at which expats work operate in English, and there are translators available to assist in communication with patients who do not speak English. Additionally, your hospital will provide basic Arabic classes for you, and you can do further studies if you choose.

Here are a few typical Arabic phrases, using an English rendering, and followed by a translation:


Marhaba = Hello

Maasalama = Good-bye (When a colleague is leaving, you often hear of a "maasalama party" or a "maasalama sale" - basically a yard sale in which a person sells things they won't be bringing home with the, e.g., DVD players)

Assalam alaykum = Peace be upon you (response = Wa alaykum assalam)

Ahlan wa sahlan = various translations: welcome, hello and welcome, you are very welcome (response = Ahlan bekum)

Alhamdulillah = Praise to God (sometimes used in sense of Thanks to God; and sometimes pronounced by non-Arabic speakers as "humdulillah"); used by Arabic speakers of all religions, not just Islam

Sabah al-khair = Good Morning (response = sabah al-noor)

Masaa al-Khair = Good evening (response = masa al-noor)

Ismee … = my name is …

Min fadlak = Please (male)

Min fadlik = Please (female)

Shukran = Thank you

Afwan = You're Welcome

Inshallah = God Willing (you will often hear this in response to anything tentative, when timing is in question, etc.)

Aiwa or Naam = Yes

La = No

Ismahlee = Excuse me

Mafee Mushkala = No problem

Tatakallum Ingleezi? = Do you speak English?

La Atakalam Arabi = I don't speak Arabic


Wahid = 1

Ithnin = 2

Thalatha = 3

Arbaa = 4

Khamsa = 5

Sitta = 6

Sabaa = 7

Thamania = 8

Tisa= 9

Ashara = 10


Shai = Tea

Gahwah = coffee

Aaseer = juice

Water = maa


Mustashfa = hospital

Souq = market

Matt'am = restaurant

Fondook = hotel

Hammam (or "toilets") = restrooms, toilets


Feloos = Money

Bekam? or Addesh? = How much?

Sadeeq = friend (literally; also expats sometimes use it as a euphemism for alcohol)

Muhim = important

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

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