Guides | UAEssentials

Arabic is the official language in the UAE

Though classical Arabic is not spoken in everyday life, most people speak the colloquial version which varies from country to country but is understood by all.

  • By Fatma Salem, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 June 12, 2010
  • Gulf News

Arabic language
  • Image Credit: LUIS VAZQUEZ/Gulf News
  • Arabic is a semitic language and according to a study it is spoken by over 220 million people in the world.

Dubai: Arabic, the official language of the UAE, is also the language of the Quran. It is categorised into three distinct forms: classical, formal or modern standard and spoken/colloquial (dialect). Its writing system starts from right-to-left.

The Arabic alphabet system consists of 28 letters. It is also known as the pure Arabic language, pronounced in Arabic Al Lougah Al Arabiah Al Fusha and famously recognised as the language of DHAD Certificate (Arabic exam) after one of the most crucial letters in the alphabet which occupies number 15 in the list.

Arabic is a semitic language and according to a study it is spoken by over 220 million people in the world. It's also spoken by Arab Christians and Oriental Jews.

Being the official language of the UAE it is endorsed by law at all government departments including schools, universities, all branches of media including television, radio, newspapers and magazines, besides all written matter like books and documents. Though classical Arabic is not spoken in everyday life, most people speak the colloquial version which varies from country to country but is understood by all.

Most Arabs effortlessly imitate each others dialect because they follow a common Arabic alphabet system but whenever confusion occurs, they refer to the classical version to make themselves more clear.

Unlike English, in Arabic there are different verbs for male, female, singular and plural. For example when you greet someone in English, whether a man or a woman, you say, how are you? The English sentence remains unchanged for both genders.

In Arabic, it is kaif halak when you greet a man, and kaif halek when you greet a woman. The use of (e) instead of (a) differentiates the gender and makes the sentence sound grammatically correct.

National identity

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has strongly emphasised on the importance of Arabic as a symbol of UAE's national identity therefore, in March 2009, the government decided to authorise Arabic as the official language at all federal institutions and entities.

Also, the UAE Ministry of Education announced in 2008 that an Arabic exam, known as the DHAD Certificate, will be introduced to private and public institutions across the country.

It will also be globally accredited. Due to its importance, Arabic is taught in a chain of institutions throughout the emirates for whoever interested in learning the language.

Some key words

  • God -Allah
  • Prophet - Nabi
  • Messenger - Rasool
  • God willing - Insha'allah
  • Mosque - Masjid
  • Church - Kanisah
  • Language - Laugha
  • Hello - Marhaba
  • Country - Belad
  • News paper - Sahifah
  • Magazine - Majallah
  • Office - Maktab
  • Company - Sharekah
  • House - Manzel
  • Garden - Hadiqah
  • Visit- Ziyarah
  • Holiday - Ejazah
  • Airport - Mataar
  • Hotel - Fundoq
  • School - Madrasah
  • Weather- Taqs
  • Rain - Matar
  • Telephone - Hatef
  • Car - Sayyara
  • Key - Muftaah
  • Coffee - Qahwah
  • Tea - Shi
  • Food - Ta'am + Akl
  • Friend - Sadiq
  • Gift -Hadiah
  • Why - Lematha
  • How - Kaif
  • Money - Mal + Noqoud
  • Thanks - Shukran
  • Good bye - Ela Al Leqa

Gulf News