Get familiar with Emirati proverbs

Rich in nuance and meaning, they offer deep insight into Emirati culture

Gulf News

Proverb

‘il kheir kheir ‘ubuuna w l-goum nashebuuna

Literal meaning: The wealth is our father’s and those people are fighting us over it!

This proverb addresses situations when those who have the greatest stakes in a possession are suddenly dismissed or disrespected by others with lesser interests. For instance, this proverb could describe a crowd of people who have assembled at a wedding reception yet who beat and shove aside the bridegroom’s children to make room for themselves. The proverb can also be said to describe the cruelty of an occupying force for throwing people out of their homes or lands.

There are many other versions of the proverb that is used in the UAE like: yet shou’a min ‘il-yabel w gaalit zahzihi ya tiina, which is translated as “a mountain plant came from the (far) mountain and said go away (you) fig tree”.

Another common proverb with a similar meaning is: ‘il-beit beit ‘ubuuna win-nas dharuuna, which is translated as: “the house is our father’s and other people kicked us out of it.”

The word kheir can signify a range of meanings:

1. Blessing, good thing, ma heSal ‘illa kill kheir, “Nothing bad happened.”

‘il meTar kheir min Allah, “Rain is a blessing from God.”

2. Wealth ‘il-hamdulillah, fiih kheir wayid fil-‘imaaraat, “Praise due to God, there is great wealth in the UAE.”

3. Benefit, good, hal-herma ma fiiha kheir, “This woman has no benefit (from whom no one can expect any benefit.)”

4. Excellent, prosperous, good, ‘il-youm kheir, sirt ‘is-suug w-haSalt killi li ‘abah min ‘is-simach, “Today was good, I went to the market and I found all the fish I needed.”

Sebbahka Allah bil-kheir, “Good morning.”

5. Charity, ‘a’maal l- kheir, “charitable deeds.”

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