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Arabic Jobs: Jobs for Arabic Speakers (Even Beginners!)

Learn Arabic, they said. You’ll get a better job, they said.

The single biggest motivation for people learning a foreign language worldwide is employment.

And people have been watching with eyes wider and wider as Middle Eastern countries keep developing faster and faster.

Arabic, though? It’s supposed to be really hard!

You’d think that countries like those with such strong and vibrant local cultures would be totally closed off to outsiders, especially those that can’t speak the language.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Aside from Arabic jobs, there are job opportunities for everyone in Arab countries, whether or not you speak Arabic!

How can you get your foot in the door? Read on.

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Without further ado, here’s our guide on how to find a job in Arabic-speaking places.

Table of Contents

  1. Jobs For When You Can’t Speak Arabic Yet
  2. Jobs For When You Can Speak Arabic
  3. Four Hotspots You Might Not Have Considered
  4. How To Look For Jobs in the Middle East
  5. Four Job Boards You Should Be Checking Out
  6. Expat Communities
  7. Are You Sure You’re Done Learning Arabic?

1. Jobs For When You Can’t Speak Arabic Yet

You can’t speak Arabic yet, or you don’t know more than a few words or phrases? Join the club – the club is made up of the literally hundreds of thousands of expats in thriving Middle Eastern cosmopolitan cities, expats who can’t tell the Arabic alphabet from a plate of spaghetti.

With populations like that, there are definitely going to be services catered to the needs of English speakers instead of Arabic speakers.

In general, the skilled trades you can take advantage of in your home country are also in demand in others. If you’re really good at something pretty difficult, you can expect that local and foreign companies alike will be willing to sponsor your work visa.

What is “something pretty difficult?”

Medicine, for one. Let’s say you’re in Australia, and you’ve been working your fingers to the bone as a nurse but barely making ends meet.

Those skills you have are actually in high demand in, say, Saudi Arabia.

Medicine is the kind of thing that requires a strong tradition of expertise, and in fast-growing economies, the educational background just isn’t there yet. For that reason, international hospitals in Saudi Arabia are constantly hiring foreign talent whether or not they speak Arabic.

And outside of medicine, you’ll find opportunities in finance, tech, engineering, and more with the same characteristics. Big firms know that not everybody is willing to take on the challenge of a new language. That’s why they’ll go the extra mile to make you feel comfortable in English.
However, if you can speak Arabic, you open yourself up to all the monolingual jobs plus more.

2. Jobs For When You Can Speak Arabic

The most obvious job for a speaker of two languages has traditionally been translation or interpretation. However, making the big bucks in either of these fields takes experience and training.

Considering a career in Arabic translation? Why not specialize in medical or legal translation? As mentioned above, medicine is a booming industry. Carving out a niche for yourself means that you can relatively easily build up a portfolio of satisfied clients.

And just because executives speak English and other languages doesn’t mean there’s no use for Arabic. People publish market research and other industry information in Arabic all the time, and if you’re the one who can interpret and summarize it for somebody else, you’ll make yourself extremely valuable.

Perhaps one of the most frequently overlooked jobs for multilinguals is that of cultural liaison. Someone who really understands and can articulate the different needs, wants, and motivations of many different cultures is someone who can make any multinational business function ten times better.

Imagine that you’re managing a hotel in Bahrain and you have American tourists and local desk staff upset at one another over perceived slights. It would be a nightmare for any other manager – but you are confidently multilingual and have taken the time to understand just what everybody is mad about.

It’s not a job you can just up and apply for, but by highlighting your intercultural communication skills in your resume, you can play up this strength and feel satisfied knowing you helped people get along.

Multitasking

3. Four Hotspots You Might Not Have Considered

If you have a particular skill and the desire to relocate, chances are you can find a job. But suppose you’re one of those multi-talented types, with five years of experience here and seven years of experience there.

There might be fields you’re qualified for but overlooking. Here’s just a small sample of sectors in four Arab countries that are growing with remarkable speed.

Telecommunication

1- Algeria: Telecommunications

The telecom industry in Algeria is wide open for investment, and that investment is coming like a tidal wave. Just this year, contracts were signed to push 5G coverage into the remotest provinces as well as expand fiber-optic communications lines across the country.

If you have any experience in telecom system management or information technology infrastructure development, Algeria wants you.

Will You Need Arabic?

Probably, or some French at the least. Algeria is not a country that ranks particularly highly when it comes to English ability among the general population. However, lots of people are multilingual in French, Amazigh, and Algerian Arabic. Much of the investment is coming from China, so some knowledge of Mandarin can’t hurt either.

make up one's mind to start something

2- UAE: Tech startups

The UAE, most prominently Dubai, is growing like crazy when it comes to tech. Investments in startups increased by a staggering seventeen times in just two years between 2014 and 2016. If you know something about data analysis, machine learning, or user interface design, your skills are going to be in high demand for sure.

Will You Need Arabic?

Probably not. All over the world, tech startups are increasingly being started-up by young and cosmopolitan people who grew up watching TV and surfing the Internet in English.

manmade islands

3- Dubai: Tourism and Hospitality

Here’s a fun little exercise for getting an Idea of the popularity of a particular place’s tourism industry.

Go on YouTube and search for that city, for example “Santa Monica” or “Dubai.” Just that one name. Then see where the results are from. Who’s shooting their vlogs there?

When it comes to Dubai, the answer is “everyone.” Taiwan, Poland, South Africa, Australia, Germany… it’s a worldwide tourist destination.

Will You Need Arabic?

Probably not. International hotel and resort chains frequently use English as the language of business. However, knowing how to speak the language or languages of your staff makes an enormous difference when it comes to management. There’s a chance that will be Arabic in Dubai, but knowledge of South or Southeast Asian languages might go a little farther.

Building Construction

4- Saudi Arabia: Real Estate

Construction and development is absolutely soaring in Saudi Arabia.

And just as in the medical sector, real estate companies are searching for top talent. You need to be someone with years of experience, even better if your career spans multiple levels of real estate management.

Will You Need Arabic?

It depends on the market that you end up in. It’s entirely possible that you can secure a position in which you’re not expected to interact with monolingual clients, or if absolutely necessary you can use an interpreter.

If you happen to speak truly excellent Arabic, you may be tasked with the all-important job of negotiation – in which case your cultural knowledge had better be at least as good as your language knowledge.

4. How To Look For Jobs in the Middle East

A very important concept when talking about business in the Middle East is connections.

Do you have them? Even if you think you don’t, is it possible someone you used to know ended up working in an Arab country or even has relatives there?

There’s your connection. Even something as tenuous as “a good friend of my high school girlfriend’s uncle” is a possible lead, and believe it or not it carries as much or more weight than an impressive cold call.

But don’t think of the whole Arab world as a place stifled by nepotism. Thousands of people can and regularly do get jobs just by posting their resumes on job boards or cold-emailing a company representative.

One thing you’ll definitely need for this is a tailored CV. (If you think that’s obvious, congratulations – you’re already well ahead of the curve.)

HR departments and recruiters in the Middle East tend to like fancier, lengthier CVs than people do in the west. Put some thought into the design, and don’t shy away from flowery language to spice up the details of your work experience.

You’ll also want to include personal information like age, gender, and nationality. Photos are important too. Plenty of people will rule out applicants if they don’t fit the exact physical description mentioned in the job posting.

Where exactly can you find all these job postings?

Job Search

5. Four Job Boards You Should Be Checking Out

1- Expat.com

Expat.com is a very valuable resource for people looking to move anywhere, not just the Middle East. In addition to a thriving job board, there’s also an active forum with advice from people who have seen and done it all before.

2- Bayt

Bayt bills itself as “The Middle East’s Leading Job Site,” and it certainly has the numbers to back that up. Tens of thousands of jobs are posted and filled every month! There’s also a very helpful advice blog and CV resource center – both full of advice on putting your best face forward to a very different culture.

3- Naukrigulf

This job site might not be as slick as Bayt, but Naukrigulf has just as big a presence. It’s extremely easy to hop on and browse all kinds of different categories, sorting by more than a dozen different requirements. At the time of this writing, five thousand jobs were added in the last seven days alone!

4- Wuzzuf

Are you looking specifically for an Egyptian job? Wuzzuf is the largest job board in Egypt, though of course it also has listings for nearby countries. The advantage of a more local board like this is that you can directly apply to Egyptian companies specifically instead of larger multinational corporations that might be more willing to hire internally.

Whatever you do, don’t turn to Craigslist as you might be tempted to. Craigslist, even in big cities of the Middle East, just isn’t used that much, and what you find on there is likely to be under-the-table at best and an outright scam at worst.

6. Expat Communities

There’s an interesting trend I’ve noticed about people living abroad. Lots of people don’t like the idea of being an expat, though they certainly like the idea of enjoying its benefits.

Lots of Westerners simply walk past each other without trying to make eye contact on the street, even in a place where they are clearly the only non-locals around. It can be kind of alienating!

Fortunately, that’s not always the case. Social media is a fantastic place these days for connecting with other foreigners in your land, and you will almost certainly be welcomed with open arms.

After all, as expats you’re facing a unique set of circumstances in the country that locals really can’t comprehend.

Facebook is by far the biggest place to make these connections. Simply search for “expats in X” and you’ll find lively groups that post anything from coping advice to job offers to upcoming events. Don’t be afraid to join national expat groups too if your local city group is small or nonexistent.

The more connections you can make, the better. When everybody is a stranger in a strange land, they’re all willing to help.

7. Are You Sure You’re Done Learning Arabic?

You know, even if you’re quite comfortable working in Arabic, there’s always room to improve.

And although many people speak other languages, the fact is that knowing the local language wherever you go is a huge advantage, even just psychologically speaking.

It eventually takes a bit of a mental toll to constantly block out the incomprehensible stream of noise or text you see all around you and constantly look for whatever you can understand.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

ArabicPod101 offers a comprehensive self-study program for the Arabic language. Although pod is in the name, it’s really far more than just a podcast. It’s an entire course delivered in the form of audio lessons, vocabulary resources, and written materials available on the website.

It’s totally painless to try out. Get started today, and give yourself the best leg up on a job in an Arab country!

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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Give and Take: Secrets of Gift-Giving in Arabic Cultures

Give and Take in Arab Countries

1. Introduction

In the Arabic language, there are two words for a “gift.”

  • هدية (hadieh) is the type of gift that you would give for a birthday or Eid al-Fitr—a gift to celebrate a special occasion.
  • هبة (hiba) is a gift that truly comes from the heart—a donation, a sponsorship, even a sacrifice of some sort.

The language itself tells you how important the concept of gift-giving is in Arab culture. And as anyone who’s done business in the Arab world or experienced Arab hospitality knows, it’s an aspect that’s impossible to ignore.

So whether you’re preparing for a trip to Saudi Arabia or welcoming new Iraqi neighbors, check out the guide below to make sure you’re checking all the right boxes.

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2. Outstanding Gifts for All Occasions

Obviously, anything can be a gift when it’s among friends.

When you know someone well, you know what they like and dislike, and it’s not hard to figure out what kind of thing to get them.

But when it comes to strangers, you can just keep three things in mind: Food, Business, Hospitality.

  • Food: Gifts of food are safe, easy, and always welcome—though during the fasting month of Ramadan, it’s best to wait until after sundown to present someone with a gift of this sort. Offer packaged and easily shared foods such as dates, cookies, and sweets, particularly if the receiver has a family.
  • Business: The business-minded professional will always appreciate a tasteful personal organizer or business card holder, particularly in black or silver if it’s for a man.
  • Hospitality: Finally, treating someone to a business lunch or a friendly dinner—or a home-cooked meal, if possible—is truly going above and beyond. Refusing such an invitation might be perceived as rude, so a polite way to decline is to shift the blame to your company’s policy or something you have to do with your family.

Is there anything you should avoid giving? Certainly.

If your gift was given with friendly, sincere intentions, you’re unlikely to actually offend most people. Usually, they’ll politely put it aside and forgive you for your faux pas.

But of course, you never want to put anyone in that situation, so there are a couple of things you probably ought to leave off the shopping list.

Most everybody that knows about Muslim culture knows that pork and alcohol are forbidden, or حَرَام (haram).

However, did you know that many Muslims also prefer to stay away from dogs? This doesn’t apply to every follower of Islam, nor does it apply to every Arab, but unless you’re told otherwise, assume that gifts with dog motifs might not be so warmly accepted.

Art of Giving

3. The Art of Giving

Just as every culture has norms about gifts themselves, there are plenty of things to consider when actually exchanging the items. In Western culture, for instance, some personal gifts are inappropriate for men to give women or vice-versa.

But in Arab culture, gift-giving itself is considered too intimate of an act to be shared by men and women who aren’t husband and wife. If a man must give a gift to a woman, it’s more modest (and therefore more polite) to say that it came from his own mother or sister.

Even the act of handing over the gift is important. You wouldn’t like it if someone casually tossed an unwrapped gift at your feet—and in the Arab world, giving a gift with the left hand is a similarly-sized mistake.

As the left hand is considered unclean and associated with bathing, always use both hands or your right hand alone to give and receive presents. The most common thing you’ll likely receive is a business card—make sure you get this one right!

And lastly, keep in mind that giving gifts out of the blue carries an unspoken expectation that they will be repaid in kind later.

Gift

4. Conclusion

To say “Thank you for the gift,” in Arabic, use the phrase شكرا لك على الهدية. (shukran lak 3alaa al-hadiyya). A couple of well-chosen phrases in Arabic go a long way.

But it’s how you act when you give or get a gift that makes the most difference, not the language you use.
In Arab culture, just like in the West, you need to be sincere. Be generous. Be thoughtful.

If you picked out something cheap because you think it’ll help you land a business deal, the other person is going to see through that in a second.

So pay attention to the guidelines above, and remember the most important lesson: Give from the heart, and the rest will follow.

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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A Handshake is Worth 1000 Words: Body Language in Dubai Business Culture

Body Language in Dubai Business Culture

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Nelson Mandela gave some solid advice. Your words, and the language they’re spoken in, can make a powerful impact.

But what about what you’re not saying?

What are you communicating without even realizing it?

Is your message, “I’m confident, trustworthy, and capable,” or something more like “Watch out!”?

In this article, we’re going to take a holistic look at the nonverbal signals you might be giving your business partner.

When you’re in another culture, you can’t expect your body language to stay the same. In Dubai, you might accidentally be sending messages that tip the scales in the other guy’s favor—and not even know it!

Everything from your head to your feet matters in the business culture of Dubai, where personal relationships are the foundation of any successful venture.

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1. Your Face and Eyes

1- Smile Like You Mean It

A lot of people tend to go one of two ways when it comes to smiles.

They might avoid it entirely in the hopes that they’ll be taken seriously. Or they go too far, grinning like mad even past the point of burning cheeks.

Neither of these options flies particularly well in most countries in the world.

And in Dubai, you’ll need to tone it down even more.

Laughing too much at others’ jokes or always smiling without good reason makes you come off as an oddball at best—and untrustworthy at worst. If nobody understands what’s so funny, they’ll wonder what you know about the situation that they don’t.

If you’re at a trade show, for instance, you’ll see people on both ends of the spectrum trying to get your attention.

Watch and see—the ones in the middle, giving gentle and authentic smiles, are the ones who make the most connections.

Eye Contact

2- Eye Contact

Eye contact is the type of thing that really differs from person to person.

Some people in Dubai prefer strong eye contact as a show of respect, while others would prefer that you politely avert your gaze when speaking to them.

If you can, take a look at how other people around you—especially the successful ones—use eye contact.

Are they looking down into their teacups, over their partner’s shoulder, or directly into their eyes?

Follow their cues, and remember not to overthink things.

As a foreigner, you will be given a certain amount of leeway on these subtle issues. Just remember to stay focused and respectful when spoken to; don’t let your attention wander.

One more thing to note here: Men shouldn’t make prolonged eye contact with women, especially in public. It comes across as leery or even threatening and makes both parties uncomfortable before long.

3- Speech

Language

Dubai is an incredibly cosmopolitan city already, and becoming more international by the day.

You’re likely to hear a dozen languages on the street every time you go out.

Many firms even prefer to do business in English rather than hire an interpreter. If you’re experienced in international business, you’ll already know that English is widely spoken all around the world already.

Be that as it may, the fact is that Arabic is the de facto and de jure language of the UAE.

Native Emiratis speak Gulf Arabic from childhood and learn to read and write in the formal written language.

This Modern Standard Arabic differs in several key ways from the Gulf Arabic of the street. Pronouns are different, the grammar rules are more complex, and the written language preserves more classical vocabulary.

That means that learning to speak, read, and write in Arabic is a pretty big task. The U.S. Foreign Service Institute rates it as one of the hardest languages to learn for English speakers.

With that effort, though, comes great reward.

By law, all contracts and regulations in Dubai must be in Modern Standard Arabic.

Knowing the language will make you more confident that what you’re signing matches the translation you’re given.

And it also gives you an enormous status boost.

Even by learning a few polite phrases you’ll separate yourself from the foreign expats who couldn’t care less about the local culture. You wouldn’t believe how many people live for years in a foreign country, expecting everyone to speak English whenever they go out.

People will notice the effort you’ve made to connect with them, and it won’t be forgotten.

Etiquette

No matter what language you speak, there are a couple of notes you should pay attention to for conversation etiquette as well.

Whenever you’re meeting with a local, you should avoid dominating the conversation.

Give them time to think, and don’t interpret short silences as awkward. In the negotiation-laden Arabian Gulf, people often take a while to think things over.

It may take quite a few sips of tea or scratches of the chin before the time comes to give an answer.

In addition, steer away from rude language and asking about a man’s wife.

Bawdy language in the some countries can be a mark of camaraderie, but in the Arab world it’s far too forward for a formal meeting.

And though it’s important to pay attention to business partners’ personal lives, it’s also a little bit out of bounds to ask directly about a man’s wife—so ask about his family as a whole instead.

4- Out to Lunch

Dining etiquette and table manners are complicated enough to deserve an entire article on their own.

Fortunately, a lot of the things that are polite or rude in other countries have the same connotation in Dubai.

And that’s great! When you’re looking at an array of amazing al-machboos, shawarma, and al-harees, you don’t want to have to think too hard before you eat!

The basic rules are easy to remember. Don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t gorge yourself, don’t make loud eating noises—the usual stuff.

However, you should also make sure that you’re one of the last to begin eating unless invited otherwise. This shows great respect for all present.

If bread is a part of the meal—and it’s likely to be—don’t cut it with a knife. Instead, tear it with your hands and eat small pieces.

Lastly, don’t order any alcohol when you’re out at a restaurant.

Most Muslims don’t drink alcohol, and you don’t want to be the only one at the table drinking, even if nobody says anything.

If you happen to be dining with someone who does drink alcohol, wait for them to suggest it.

Hand and Shoulder

2. Your Shoulders and Hands

1- Physical Affection

Physical affection between male friends is more common in Dubai than in some other countries.

For example, you might see two men holding hands in the street—think nothing of it. In the same vein, don’t be surprised if a local friend of yours holds onto your handshake longer than you’re expecting him to.

In many countries, it’s not particularly common for men to show each other much, if any, physical affection.

Emirati men, in contrast, are used to clapping each other on the back or throwing their arms around each other’s shoulders to physically express their close friendship.

If this makes you uncomfortable, then you do have the right to hold back a little.

This is another thing that foreigners aren’t expected to master straight away. In fact, anyone used to dealing with business people in other countries is likely aware of the preference for less physical contact.

But again, the more you approach this cultural gap with an open mind, the less of an obstacle you’ll find it to be.

Handshake

2- Handshakes

In the Arab world, handshakes are often less firm than you may be used to.

How many ‘80s business seminars went over the importance of a firm, manly handshake? Something about showing your dominance in the room or your physical strength?

Forget it. In rapidly-advancing Dubai, that ideal is far behind.

A powerful handshake can come off as pugnacious and aggressive—far from your intended effect.

Don’t take offense if you’re offered a “limp” handshake at a meeting or introduction. The handshake in Dubai is more of a show of respect than power.

Speaking of respect, it’s important to greet people by using their official titles.

If you’re meeting someone with a PhD, call them Doctor. If you have the opportunity to meet a sheikh, use Sheikh as the title and then their full name.

By the way, just as with eye contact, men should also avoid offering Muslim women handshakes.

The opportunity may never even come up, but you should keep it in mind. If a woman offers her hand to you, don’t refuse and instead give the same light but respectful handshake discussed above.

Women should be prepared for Emirati men to refuse a handshake on religious grounds.

If this happens, don’t take it as a snub and instead place your right hand over your heart with a small nod of your head and a smile.

The reasoning behind this is simple.

In conservative Muslim cultures, men are expected to respect a woman’s comfort zone. In Dubai, this takes the form of refraining from all forms of physical contact.

3- Hand Etiquette & More

It’s the age-old question in any new situation: “What am I supposed to do with my hands?”

The same tactics that work in other countries work in Dubai too.

Don’t clench your fists, don’t cross your arms tightly, don’t fiddle with your clothes. If you’re nervous, adopt a relaxed yet upright posture with your right hand holding your left wrist.

There’s just one extra general rule to remember:

In Dubai, as in many Muslim cultures, it’s considered rude to offer things with the left hand.

Traditionally, the left hand is used for cleaning after using the bathroom. That may or may not be the case for you, but keep in mind the cultural association.

That’s what native Emiratis think of when you offer them your left hand. Is that where you want their mind to go in a business meeting?

Whether you’re a lefty or a righty, you need to shake hands with your right hand, open doors for people with your right hand, and hand things to others with—you guessed it—your right hand.

And what’s one of the most important handoffs you’re going to make?

The business card.

When you exchange business cards, take the other person’s with both hands and examine it carefully before putting it away.

Hand over your own card with your right hand, naturally, and make sure that the Arabic side is facing up.

Surely you remembered to have your cards printed in Arabic and English, right?

One more thing to note:

During a meeting, you may notice that people look down at their phones more often than you’d like.

But this isn’t seen as rude or intrusive in Dubai.

Rather—depending on whom you’re meeting, of course—a meeting is more of an extension of someone’s regular work day instead of special time set aside to connect one-on-one.

Unfortunately, as a foreigner you may be held to a bit of a higher standard here.

You’re expected to show a very high degree of respect to your hosts, and that may mean sacrificing the freedom of checking your emails while someone else is talking.

Smile Like You Mean It

3. Your Legs and Feet

1- Confident Posture

When your business associate comes into the room, they want to see a confident businessperson.

And you want to control the room as much as you can from your own position.

You can achieve this, in part, by widening your frame slightly and simply taking up a little more space in the room.

Stand with your feet slightly apart to project an image of powerful confidence without intimidation.

Slouching is frowned upon in most cultures already, but in the stricter and more formal business culture of Dubai, it’s seen as even more negative.

Slouching when sitting or walking implies that you’re either lazy, uncomfortable, or have something to hide.

In contrast, if you pull the old trick of leaning back in your chair with your hands behind your head to intimidate others, you’ll come off as trying way too hard.

Avoid this outdated tactic, and instead go for a friendly, genuine slight lean forward over the desk. You’ll appear eager to listen to what the other party has to say, which can only lead to a smoother relationship.

2- Bottom of the Feet

Be sure not to step on anyone’s toes—literally or figuratively!

Similar to the left hand, many more conservative people in Dubai find the bottom of the feet unclean.

Resting with your feet pointed at someone else or accidentally kicking someone under the table might not get you in trouble directly, but it sends a subconscious message that you don’t respect them.

Pay attention to how you’re crossing your legs and feet in a meeting. Are your feet pointed toward somebody you’re trying to impress, or worse yet, toward someone with higher status than you? They’d better not be.

Don’t jiggle your legs when you’re sitting down, either.

It’s a sign of nervousness, and it shows your conversation partner that something else is on your mind. And at a business lunch, there’s the added danger of knocking over the tea!

After reading this list, you might be thinking, “Are these little things really what’s going to make or break my business deal?”

But put yourself in the other person’s shoes. (As an expat, that’s an exercise you should be doing daily anyway.)

Suppose someone came into your office with a sullen look on his face, gave you a sweaty, limp handshake, fiddled with his phone during your conversation, and slammed the door behind him on the way out.

Each of these things individually could be explained away with the context or easily brushed aside.

But together, they’re practically unforgivable. You probably hate that guy just from the description!

That’s the same kind of cultural friction that can happen when you hold on to all your previous body language norms in a new environment.

In doing business in a different culture, you’ve made an unspoken commitment to respect the local people and their way of life. If you can’t back that up with your actions, you’re not going to meet with a whole lot of success.

4. Conclusion

Dubai is a rapidly growing cosmopolitan city. Local businesspeople are used to dealing with foreigners from all over the world.

It’s completely natural that they’ll have dealt with cultural misunderstandings before.

That high tolerance, however, only makes it that much more valuable to be aware of and respectful of the local culture.

If you’re used to people making mistakes, someone who’s sensitive to what you find offensive is going to be a breath of fresh air.

Your task is simple and yet endless. Culture runs far deeper than can be described in a simple article. These simple outward differences between body language in other countries and body language in Dubai are rooted in millennia of tradition.

All you have to do to conquer this is to see the world with an open mind.

You have to understand that what you find offensive or grating might not matter at all to others. Conversely, they might find themselves subconsciously annoyed because of something you don’t even think about.

You just need to keep one basic principle in mind. If you can pay attention to how others act and react, you’ll be on the right track to mastering your body language no matter where you go.

And Dubai is waiting for you to take that first step.

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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How to Say I Love You in Arabic - Romantic Word List

Do you often feel lonely and sad? Do you long for romance and are willing to do whatever it takes to meet that special person? Speaking another language could revolutionize your love life! So, why wait? Learning how to say ‘love’ in Arabic could be just what you need to find it.

Or perhaps you were lucky, and have found your Arabic partner already. Fantastic! Yet, a cross-cultural relationship comes with unique challenges. Learning how to speak your lover’s language will greatly improve your communication and enhance the relationship. At ArabicPod101, our team will teach you all the words, quotes and phrases you need to woo your Arabic lover with excellence! Our tutors provide personal assistance, with plenty of extra material available to make Arabic dating easy for you.

Table of Contents

  1. Common Phrases You’ll Need for a Date
  2. The Most Romantic Ideas for a Date
  3. Must-know Valentine’s Day Vocabulary
  4. Arabic Love Phrases for Valentine’s Day
  5. Arabic Quotes about Love
  6. Marriage Proposal Lines
  7. 15 Most Common Break-Up Lines
  8. Will Falling in Love Help You Learn Arabic Faster?

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1. Common Phrases You’ll Need for a Date

So, you have met your Arabic love interest. Congratulations! Who knows where this could take you…?! However, the two of you have just met and you’re not ready to say the Arabic word for love just yet. Great, it is better to get to know him/her first. Wow your prospective love by using these Arabic date phrases to set up a spectacular first date.

Arabic Date Phrases

Would you like to go out to dinner with me?

  • تخرجي تتعشي معايا؟
  • toḫrogī tetʿaššī maʿāyā?

The important question! In most cultures, this phrase indicates: ‘I’m romantically interested in you’. Flirting in Arabic is no different, so don’t take your date to Mcdonald’s!

Are you free this weekend?

  • عندك وقت في أجازة نهاية الأُسبوع؟
  • ʿandek waʾt fī ʾagāzeẗ nehāyeẗ el-ʾosbūʿ?

This is a preamble to asking your love interest on a date. If you get an immediate ‘Yes’, that’s good news!

Would you like to hang out with me?

  • عاوز نخرج سوا؟
  • ʿāwez noḫrog sawā?

You like her/him, but you’re not sure if there’s chemistry. Ask them to hang out first to see if a dinner date is next.

What time shall we meet tomorrow?

  • هنتقابل بكرة إمتى؟
  • hanetʾābel bokrah ʾemtā?

Set a time, and be sure to arrive early! Nothing spoils a potential relationship more than a tardy date.

Where shall we meet?

  • هنتقابل فين؟
  • hanetʾābel feīn?

You can ask this, but also suggest a place.

You look great.

  • شكلك رائع.
  • šaklek rāʾeʿ.

A wonderful ice breaker! This phrase will help them relax a bit - they probably took great care to look their best just for you.

You are so cute.

  • أنت جميلة جداً.
  • ʾanti ǧamīlaẗun ǧidan.

If the two of you are getting on really well, this is a fun, flirtatious phrase to use.

What do you think of this place?

  • رأيك إية في المكان ده؟
  • raʾyak ʾeīh fī el-makān dah?

This another good conversation starter. Show off your Arabic language skills!

Can I see you again?

  • ممكن أشوفك تاني؟
  • momken ʾašūfek tānī?

So the date went really well - don’t waste time! Make sure you will see each other again.

Shall we go somewhere else?

  • نروح مكان تاني؟
  • nerūḥ makān tānī?

If the place you meet at is not great, you can suggest going elsewhere. It is also a good question to follow the previous one. Variety is the spice of life!

I know a good place.

  • أنا عارف مكان لطيف.
  • ʾanā ʿāref makān laṭīf.

Use this with the previous question. However, don’t say if you don’t know a good place!

I will drive you home.

  • هوصلك بيتك.
  • hawaṣṣalek beītek.

If your date doesn’t have transport, this is a polite, considerate offer. However, don’t be offended if she/he turns you down on the first date. Especially a woman might not feel comfortable letting you drive her home when the two of you are still basically strangers.

That was a great evening.

  • كانت ليلة رائعة.
  • kānat laylaẗan rāʾiʿah.

This is a good phrase to end the evening with.

When can I see you again?

  • أشوفك تاني إمتى؟
  • ʾašūfek tānī ʾemtā?

If he/she replied ‘Yes’ to ‘Can I see you again?’, this is the next important question.

I’ll call you.

  • هتصل بيك.
  • hatteṣel bīk.

Say this only if you really mean to do it. In many cultures, this could imply that you’re keeping the proverbial backdoor open.

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2. The Most Romantic Ideas for a Date

You learned all the Arabic phrases to make a date - congratulations! Now you have to decide where to meet, which can be tricky. Discuss these options with your lover to gauge whether you like the same things. Check out romantic date ideas in Arabic below!

Date Ideas in Arabic

museum

  • متحف
  • mutḥaf

If you’re looking for unique date ideas that are fun but won’t break the bank, museums are the perfect spot! You won’t be running out of things to say in the conversations.

candlelit dinner

  • عشاء على ضوء الشموع
  • ʿašāʾ ʿalā ḍawʾ al-šumūʿ

A candlelit dinner is perhaps best to reserve for when the relationship is getting serious. It’s very intimate, and says: “Romance!” It’s a fantastic choice if you’re sure you and your date are in love with each other!

go to the zoo

  • رحلة إلى حديقة الحيوان
  • riḥlah ʾilā ḥadīqah al-ḥayawān

This is a good choice for shy lovers who want to get the conversation going. Just make sure your date likes zoos, as some people dislike them. Maybe not for the first date, but this is also a great choice if your lover has children - you’ll win his/her adoration for inviting them along!

go for a long walk

  • الذهاب في نزهة طويلة
  • al-ḏahāb fī nuzhaẗin ṭawīlah

Need to talk about serious stuff, or just want to relax with your date? Walking together is soothing, and a habit you can keep up together always! Just make sure it’s a beautiful walk that’s not too strenuous.

go to the opera

  • الذهاب إلى الأوبرا
  • al-ḏahābu ʾilā al-ʾūbirā

This type of date should only be attempted if both of you love the opera. It can be a special treat, followed by a candlelit dinner!

go to the aquarium

  • الذهاب إلى حديقة الأسماك
  • al-ḏahābu ʾilā ḥadīqaẗi al-ʾasmāk

Going to the aquarium is another good idea if you need topics for conversation, or if you need to impress your lover’s kids! Make sure your date doesn’t have a problem with aquariums.

walk on the beach

  • السير على الشاطئ
  • al-sayr ʿalā al-šāṭiʾ

This can be a very romantic stroll, especially at night! The sea is often associated with romance and beauty.

have a picnic

  • القيام بنزهة
  • al-qiyām binuzhah

If you and your date need to get more comfortable together, this can be a fantastic date. Spending time in nature is soothing and calms the nerves.

cook a meal together

  • طهي وجبة معا
  • ṭahī waǧbah maʿan

If you want to get an idea of your date’s true character in one go, this is an excellent date! You will quickly see if the two of you can work together in a confined space. If it works, it will be fantastic for the relationship and create a sense of intimacy. If not, you will probably part ways!

have dinner and see a movie

  • تناول العشاء ومشاهدة فيلم
  • tanāwul al-ʿašāʾ ūmušāhadah fīlm

This is traditional date choice works perfectly well. Just make sure you and your date like the same kind of movies!

3. Must-know Valentine’s Day Vocabulary

Valentine's Day Words in Arabic

Expressing your feelings honestly is very important in any relationship all year round. Yet, on Valentine’s Day you really want to shine. Impress your lover this Valentine’s with your excellent vocabulary, and make his/her day! We teach you, in fun, effective ways, the meanings of the words and how to pronounce them. You can also copy the characters and learn how to write ‘I love you’ in Arabic - think how impressed your date will be!

4. Arabic Love Phrases for Valentine’s Day

So, you now have the basic Valentine’s Day vocabulary under your belt. Well done! But, do you know how to say ‘I love you’ in Arabic yet? Or perhaps you are still only friends. So, do you know how to say ‘I like you’ or ‘I have a crush on you’ in Arabic? No? Don’t worry, here are all the love phrases you need to bowl over your Arabic love on this special day!

Valentine's Day Words in Arabic

I love you.

  • أنا أحبك.
  • ʾanā ʾuḥibbuka.

Saying ‘I love you’ in Arabic carries the same weight as in all languages. Use this only if you’re sure and sincere about your feelings for your partner/friend.

You mean so much to me.

  • أنت تعني الكثير بالنسبة لي.
  • ʾanta taʿnī al-kaṯiīra bilnisbaẗi liī.

This is a beautiful expression of gratitude that will enhance any relationship! It makes the receiver feel appreciated and their efforts recognized.

Will you be my Valentine?

  • هل يمكنك أن تكون رفيقي في عيد الحب؟
  • hal yumkinuka an takuna rafiqi fiī ʿiīdi al-ḥubb?

With these words, you are taking your relationship to the next level! Or, if you have been a couple for a while, it shows that you still feel the romance. So, go for it!

You’re so beautiful.

  • أنت جميلة جداً.
  • ʾanti ǧamīlah ǧiddan.

If you don’t know how to say ‘You’re pretty’ in Arabic, this is a good substitute, gentlemen!

I think of you as more than a friend.

  • أعتبرك أكثر من صديق.
  • ʾaʿtabiruki ʾakṯar min ṣadiīq.

Say this if you are not yet sure that your romantic feelings are reciprocated. It is also a safe go-to if you’re unsure about the Arabic dating culture.

A hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you.

  • مئة قلب لن يكونوا كافيين لحمل حبي لكي.
  • miʾaẗu qalbin lan yakūnūā kaāfiīīn liḥamli ḥubī lakī.

You romantic you…! When your heart overflows with love, this would be the best phrase to use.

Love is just love. It can never be explained.

  • الحب هو الحب. لا يمكن أبدا تفسيره.
  • al-ḥubbu huwa al-ḥubbu. laā yumkinu ʾabadan tafsiīruhu.

If you fell in love unexpectedly or inexplicably, this one’s for you.

You’re so handsome.

  • أنت وسيم جداً.
  • ʾanta wasīmun ǧiddan.

Ladies, this phrase lets your Arabic love know how much you appreciate his looks! Don’t be shy to use it; men like compliments too.

I’ve got a crush on you.

  • أنا معجب بك.
  • ʾanā muʿǧabun biki.

If you like someone, but you’re unsure about starting a relationship, it would be prudent to say this. It simply means that you like someone very, very much and think they’re amazing.

You make me want to be a better man.

  • أنت تجعليني أريد أن أكون رجلا أفضل.
  • ʾanti taǧʿaliīnī ʾurīdu ʾan ʾakūna raǧulan ʾafḍal.

Gentlemen, don’t claim this phrase as your own! It hails from the movie ‘As Good as it Gets’, but it is sure to make your Arabic girlfriend feel very special. Let her know that she inspires you!

Let all that you do be done in love.

  • إجعل كل شيئ تفعله مفعماً بالحب.
  • ʾiǧʿal kulla šaīʾin tafʿaluhu mufʿaman bilḥubbi.

We hope.

You are my sunshine, my love.

  • أنت لي شروق الشمس، يا حبي.
  • ʾanti lī šurūqa al-ššamsi, yaā ḥubbī.

A compliment that lets your lover know they bring a special quality to your life. Really nice!

Words can’t describe my love for you.

  • لا يمكن الكلمات أن تصف حبي لك.
  • laā yumkinu lilkalimāti ʾan taṣifa ḥubbī laki.

Better say this when you’re feeling serious about the relationship! It means that your feelings are very intense.

We were meant to be together.

  • كان مقدراً لنا أن نكون معاً.
  • kāna muqaddaran lanā ʾan nakūna maʿan.

This is a loving affirmation that shows you see a future together, and that you feel a special bond with your partner.

If you were thinking about someone while reading this, you’re definitely in love.

  • إذا كنت تفكر بشخص ما في أثناء قراءة هذا، فأنت بالتأكيد واقع في الحب.
  • ʾiḏā kunta tufakkiru bišaḫṣin maā fiī ʾaṯnāʾi qarāʾaẗi haḏā, faʾnta bal-ttaʾkiīd waāqiʿun fiī al-ḥunb.

Here’s something fun to tease your lover with. And hope he/she was thinking of you!

5. Arabic Quotes about Love

Arabic Love Quotes

You’re a love champ! You and your Arabic lover are getting along fantastically, your dates are awesome, your Valentine’s Day together was spectacular, and you’re very much in love. Good for you! Here are some beautiful phrases of endearment in Arabic that will remind him/her who is in your thoughts all the time.

6. Marriage Proposal Lines

Arabic Marriage Proposal Lines

Wow. Your Arabic lover is indeed the love of your life - congratulations! And may only happiness follow the two of you! In most traditions, the man asks the woman to marry; this is also the Arabic custom. Here are a few sincere and romantic lines that will help you to ask your lady-love for her hand in marriage.

7. 15 Most Common Break-Up Lines

Arabic Break-Up Lines

Instead of moving towards marriage or a long-term relationship, you find that the spark is not there for you. That is a pity! But even though breaking up is never easy, continuing a bad or unfulfilling relationship would be even harder. Remember to be kind to the person you are going to say goodbye to; respect and sensitivity cost nothing. Here are some phrases to help you break up gently.

  • We need to talk.
    • نحتاج إلى أن نتحدث
    • naḥtāǧu ʾilā ʾan nataḥaddaṯ

    This is not really a break-up line, but it is a good conversation opener with a serious tone.

    It’s not you. It’s me.

    • السبب ليس أنت, إنه أنا.
    • al-ssababu laīsa ʾanta, ʾinnahu ʾanā.

    As long as you mean it, this can be a kind thing to say. It means that there’s nothing wrong with your Arabic lover as a person, but that you need something different from a relationship.

    I’m just not ready for this kind of relationship.

    • أنا فقط لست جاهزاً لأن أكون في هذا النوع من العلاقة.
    • ʾanā faqaṭ lastu ǧāhizan laʾan ʾakūna fiī haḏā al-nnaūʿi mina al-ʿalāqah.

    Things moved a bit fast and got too intense, too soon? Painful as it is, honesty is often the best way to break up with somebody.

    Let’s just be friends.

    • دعنا نكون مجرد أصدقاء.
    • daʿnā nakūnu muǧarrada ʾaṣdiqāʾ.

    If the relationship was very intense, and you have sent many ‘i love u’ texts in Arabic, this would not be a good breakup line. Feelings need to calm down before you can be friends, if ever. If the relationship has not really developed yet, a friendship would be possible.

    I think we need a break.

    • أعتقد أننا بحاجة إلى إستراحة.
    • ʾaʿtaqidu ʾannanā biḥāǧah ʾilā ʾistirāḥah.

    This is again honest, and to the point. No need to play with someone’s emotions by not letting them know how you feel. However, this could imply that you may fall in love with him/her again after a period of time, so use with discretion.

    You deserve better.

    • أنت تستحق أفضل من ذلك.
    • ʾanta tastaḥiqu ʾafḍala min ḏalik.

    Yes, he/she probably deserves a better relationship if your own feelings have cooled down.

    We should start seeing other people.

    • علينا أن نبدأ رؤية أشخاص آخرين.
    • ʿalaīnā ʾan nabdaʾ biruʾuyaẗi ʾašḫāṣin ʾāḫariīn.

    This is probably the least gentle break-up phrase, so reserve it for a lover that doesn’t get the message!

    I need my space.

    • أحتاج مساحتي الخاصة.
    • ʾaḥtāǧu masāḥatiī al-ḫāṣah.

    When a person is too clingy or demanding, this would be an suitable break-up phrase. It is another good go-to for that lover who doesn’t get the message!

    I think we’re moving too fast.

    • أعتقد أن علاقتنا تتطور بسرعة كبيرة.
    • ʾaʿtaqdu ʾanna ʿalāqatanā tataṭawwaru bisurʿah kabīrah.

    Say this if you want to keep the relationship, but need to slow down its progress a bit. It is also good if you feel things are getting too intense for your liking. However, it is not really a break-up line, so be careful not to mislead.

    I need to focus on my career.

    • أحتاج أن أركز على حياتي المهنية.
    • ʾaḥtāǧu ʾann ʾurakkiza ʿlaā ḥayaātī al-mihaniyyah.

    If you feel that you will not be able to give 100% in a relationship due to career demands, this is the phrase to use. It’s also good if you are unwilling to give up your career for a relationship.

    I’m not good enough for you.

    • أنا لست جيداً بما يكفي بالنسبة لك.
    • ʾanā lastu ǧaīdan bimā yakfiī bilnnisbaẗi laki.

    Say this only if you really believe it, or you’ll end up sounding false. Break-ups are usually hard for the receiving party, so don’t insult him/her with an insincere comment.

    I just don’t love you anymore.

    • أنا لم أعد أحبك.
    • ʾanā lam ʾaʿud ʾuḥibuka.

    This harsh line is sometimes the best one to use if you are struggling to get through to a stubborn, clingy lover who won’t accept your break up. Use it as a last resort. Then switch your phone off and block their emails!

    We’re just not right for each other.

    • نحن لسنا مناسبان لبعضنا.
    • naḥnu lasnā munāsibān libaʿḍinā.

    If this is how you truly feel, you need to say it. Be kind, gentle and polite.

    It’s for the best.

    • إنه للأفضل.
    • ʾinnahu lilʾafḍal.

    This phrase is called for if circumstances are difficult and the relationship is not progressing well. Love should enhance one’s life, not burden it!

    We’ve grown apart.

    • لم نعد نستطيع التفاهم.
    • lam naʿad nastaṭiīʿ al-ttafāhum.

    Cross-cultural relationships are often long-distance ones, and it is easy to grow apart over time.

  • 8. Will Falling in Love help you Learn Arabic faster?

    Most people will agree that the above statement is a no-brainer - of course it will! Your body will be flooded with feel-good hormones, which are superb motivators for anything. ArabicPod101 is one of the best portals to help help make this a reality, so don’t hesitate to enroll now! Let’s quickly look at the reasons why falling in love will speed up your learning of the Arabic language.

    Three Reasons Why Having a Lover will Help you Learn Arabic Faster!

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    1- Being in a love relationship with your Arabic speaking partner will immerse you in the culture
    ArabicPod101 uses immersive methods and tools to teach you Arabic, but having a relationship with a native speaker will be a very valuable addition to your learning experience! You will gain exposure to their world, realtime and vividly, which will make the language come alive even more for you. The experience is likely to expand your world-view, which should motivate you to learn Arabic even faster.

    2- Having your Arabic romantic partner will mean more opportunity to practice speaking
    Nothing beats continuous practice when learning a new language. Your partner will probably be very willing to assist you in this, as your enhanced Arabic language skills will enhance the relationship. Communication is, after all, one of the most important pillars of a good partnership. Also, you will get to impress your lover with the knowledge gained through your studies - a win/win situation!

    3- A supportive Arabic lover is likely to make a gentle, patient teacher and study aid!
    With his/her heart filled with love and goodwill for you, your Arabic partner is likely to patiently and gently correct your mistakes when you speak. This goes not only for grammar, but also for accent and meaning. With his/her help, you could sound like a native in no time!

    Three Reasons Why ArabicPod101 helps you learn Arabic Even Faster when you’re In Love

    Start with a bonus, and download the ‘How To be a Good Lover Cheat Sheet’ for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

    Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to be a Good Lover in Arabic

    1- All the Resources and Materials Will Help Both of You
    Falling in love with a man or woman speaking Arabic is an opportunity for both of you to learn a new language! For this reason, every lesson, transcript, vocabulary list, and resource at ArabicPod101 is translated into both English and Arabic. So, while your partner can help you learn Arabic faster, you can potentially also help him/her learn and master English!

    2- Lessons Are Designed to Help You Understand and Engage with Arabic Culture
    At ArabicPod101, our focus is to help our students learn practical vocabulary and phrases used by everyday people in Arabic speaking country. This means that, from your very first lesson, you can apply what you learn immediately! So, when your Arabic partner wants to go out to a restaurant, play Pokemon Go, or attend just about any social function, you have the vocabulary and phrases necessary to have a great time!

    3- Access to Special Resources Dedicated to Romantic Arabic Phrases
    You now have access to ArabicPod101’s specially-developed sections and tools to teach you love words, phrases, and cultural insights to help you find and attract your Arabic soul mate. A personal tutor will assist you to master these brilliantly - remember to invite him/her to your wedding!

    How to Write a Strong Business Email in Arabic

    Business Email in Arabic

    Do you know what the most decisive moment of a day in the office is?

    It happens in the blink of an eye, and it could mean the start of a great deal—or a disaster.

    It’s the length of time it takes for you to click “Send.”

    A scary moment, to be sure. Are you positive there weren’t any mistakes in that last email? Did it go to the right person?

    And when you’re doing business in another culture and another language, the pressure gets turned up to eleven.

    But at the same time, the rewards could be enormous.

    If you’re someone who’s already got a decent grasp of the written Arabic language, then you might be ready for the challenge of writing business emails in Arabic.

    What does it take—and what’s in it for you?

    In this guide, you’ll find out the answers to these questions, along with a couple of indispensable phrases that can guide you to a stunning Arabic email debut.

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    1. Why Write Business Emails in Arabic?

    Isn’t English enough?

    Yes and no.

    It all depends on the culture of your company and what you’d like to get across.

    You’ll hear from plenty of people that English is the language of the business world no matter where you are on the globe. And in a country like the UAE, the majority of the population are non-Arabic-speaking expats.

    But it’s a fact that people always prefer to use their native language for things they’re closely tied to. Besides, it’s very likely that you’ll end up communicating with expats from Arabic-speaking countries at some point—or, depending on your business role, Arabic speakers from all over the world.

    Even if you’re fluent in another language, someone who is able to communicate in your native language is going to automatically get your full attention. You’re going to listen to what they have to say by default.

    It’s also important to take a look at what you’re communicating by the mere fact of deciding to write in Arabic. Doing so means that you’re making an unspoken commitment to continue contact in Arabic as long as you need to.

    You’re giving power to the other party to cut off or continue contact in that language. On the other hand, if you start switching between languages from one email to the next, they’ll wonder what’s going on behind the scenes, and they might start asking themselves questions about your competence.

    Sending internal emails in Arabic might be a great idea if you want to promote multiculturalism and multilingualism in the workplace—two values that go hand-in-hand in the rapidly-diversifying Middle East.

    Remember, though, that hierarchy is taken extremely seriously in Arab culture. It’s best to check with a cultural facilitator or local contact who’s familiar with your specific business situation.

    Sending emails in Arabic to other business contacts shows that you’re ready to take that plunge into all-Arabic communication, and it also shows that you’re already highly knowledgeable about Arab culture. With just a few hundred words of text, you’ll set yourself apart from all the millions of expats that prefer to live in bubbles of their native language.

    So what kind of messages should you send in Arabic?

    A thank-you email is a great place to start.

    “Thank you” is one of the best phrases to learn in any language. It’s an honest sentiment that can really make someone feel appreciated. What better way to say it than in their own language?

    If you have a business meeting with an Arabic speaker, send a follow-up thank-you note in Arabic regardless of whether or not you managed to achieve all of your personal goals. It will be highly appreciated as a token of friendship and a desire to continue business relations. You can find a sample template at the end of this article.

    This can also be a great way to initiate contact in Arabic, with the closer cooperation that that implies.

    One thing you should avoid is inserting Arabic text seemingly at random into an English
    email, or only translating some words and phrases to give it an “international flair.”

    Not only does the formatting look like a mess, but the overall effect is jarring. The two writing styles are vastly different, and it will make the recipient wonder what you’re trying to accomplish by not sticking to one language.

    Business Writing

    2. Prerequisites for Business Writing

    First off, you need to be very comfortable with the written language. Reading and writing simple things in Arabic should be something you can do in your sleep.

    Remember, the person you’re writing to has likely put an enormous amount of time and effort into learning to communicate in English.

    If you write their language poorly, you’ll come off as being clumsy and uneducated. Nobody has time for deciphering broken Arabic in the morning.

    That’s why you can’t take the leap of writing business emails in Arabic until you can already write plenty of other things in Arabic, too.

    Besides, you’ll need to be able to read the response!

    However, that doesn’t mean you should wait until you’re perfect to start writing in Arabic. Perfection is the enemy of progress.

    It’s okay if you make a few missteps in grammar or word choice. Locals understand how difficult it is to become literate in Arabic, and they’re certainly not perfect at writing in every other language.

    In addition to a correct knowledge of grammar, you’ll need to have a strong knowledge of style.

    Business Correspondence Style

    3. Business Correspondence Style

    This is a place where Arab culture really comes through in the language.

    As anyone who’s done business in an Arab country knows, it’s crucial to avoid being overly direct or blunt. Oral negotiations can take a long time, and any discussion over text becomes even more oblique.

    You need to write in a style that might remind you of a nineteenth-century novel in English—the more words, the better.

    Just to give you an example of the language I’m talking about, here’s an English translation of an email in Arabic that I once came across:

    It is out of the immense appreciation and respect that I hold towards you, and my belief in the Egyptian saying that goes “amiable relationships require occasional reproach,” that I am writing to you to express some gentle criticism that I hope you might take to heart magnanimously.

    In fact, if you’re addressing someone with a significantly higher status than you, you should show your respect in the very heart of the language. Address them in the plural with the words second person male/female plural. That’s actually how English used to work, by the way—and you can still see elements of it in the “royal we.”

    You don’t need to use the plural form of address if you’re specifically talking about that one person. But if they represent a department you’re contacting, it’s a sign of respect that won’t go amiss.

    If your email happens to contain any criticism or even suggestions, it is absolutely imperative that you put them forth in a way that minimizes embarrassment to the other party.

    Causing someone else to lose face or take offense, even privately and even because of their own mistake, is a recipe for bad business relations in the future.

    “Sugar-coating” is the wrong word here, but it’s a similar idea. To better understand this point, don’t think of it as avoiding the topic or as flattery. Remember that it’s a part of the culture and the long literary tradition to speak of things obliquely.

    To that end, let’s take a look at the important elements of any business letter in the Arabic language.

    Business Letter

    4. Important Elements of a Business Letter

    • Address
    • In the Arab world, respect, trust, and hierarchy form the core of social and business relationships.

      When you address someone in a formal business letter or email, you need to include their full name and title. If they’re a doctor, call them Doctor. If they’re a sheikh, call them Sheikh.

      Instead of “Dear…” as a prefix to the recipient’s name, you have to show your respect by using the word الفاضل meaning “virtuous.”

      Virtuous/Respected Dr. Khalid…
      الدكتور الفاضل خالد…

    • Opening
    • You want to start right out of the gate with the standard all-purpose Arabic opening:

      السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
      This means, “May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you.”

      Follow this up with the post-opening:

      تحية طيبة وبعد،
      Meaning, “Respectful greetings.”

      These two lines or slight variations of them are obligatory for all formal writing. They should flow off your keyboard without a second thought. Plus, in terms of style, they’re a great warm-up for what’s about to come next.

    • Flowery Language
    • If the address and salutation didn’t tip you off, you’ll notice now that Arabic formal writing uses incredibly vibrant and flowery language.

      It’s difficult to translate in an idiomatic way, just because it’s far closer to the English writing style of more than a hundred years ago.

      Further, if you can put in literary references, do it.

      Anytime you can add more adjectives to show your respect and honor for the recipient, do it.

      Here is an example:

      It is with great deference that I bring to your attention…

      Please accept my most sincere and humble apologies for the inconvenience.

      مع احترام كبير أردت إخباركم أن…

      يرجى قبول اعتذاري المخلص على المضايقة…

      If you need more examples like these, we’ve included more in the next two sections of this article.

    • Closing
    • Closing out the email can be a kind of “cool down” for your literary writing. Use a phrase like this to once more show your respect to the recipient and thank them for their time and attention:

      وتفضلوا بقبول فائق التحية والاحترام
      This means, “Please accept my sincerity of the highest regard.”

      And after you sign off, add one more والسلام عليكم (“Peace be upon you”) at the end of the message.

    Write Business Emails

    5. Set Phrases You Can Apply

    When you write business emails, you usually end up expressing the same kinds of ideas—irrespective of how formal the language might be.

    To that end, here are a couple of phrases that you should have down as part of your business Arabic repertoire:

    الرجاء الاطّلاع على الوثيقة المرفقة
    “Please find the document attached.”

    يمكن الاتصال بي عبر هذا الرقم ٢٤ ساعة على مدار اليوم
    “I can be reached at this number twenty-four hours a day.”

    لا تترد في الاتصال
    “Don’t hesitate to call.”

    بالاشارة الى الموضوع أعلاه, نود افادتكم / نرجوا ابلاغكم …
    “With reference to the above (email) subject, we would like to inform you…”

    تفضلوا فائق التقدير و الإحترام
    “Yours sincerely and respectfully.”

    تمنياتي لكم بالتوفيق الدائم
    “Wishes to you of eternal success.”

    شكرا مجددا على تعاونكم
    “Thank you again for your cooperation.”

    When you get a reply or get an Arabic email forwarded to you, take a look at what kind of phrases you can crib for your own purposes.

    See how you get addressed by others in Arabic as well, according to the rules of formality. You can then apply this knowledge to other correspondents you get in the future, along with their elements of style. It’s not stealing—it’s learning!

    6. Example Letters

    How can these phrases above be applied to an actual real-life scenario?

    Here’s a brief template for asking to change the time of a previously-scheduled meeting. Take a look at the kind of elevated language used, and pay attention to how much respect is being shown the recipient because of his status.

    Respected Dr. Ibrahim,

    May the peace, blessings, and mercy of God be upon you.

    It is out of the immense friendship and respect that I hold for you that I wish to put forth a small suggestion with regards to the time of our scheduled meeting on Thursday.

    Because of the event being held in our office building, I would like to humbly note that our building will be closed at 12:30 PM. If it is convenient for you, we will change the time to 10:00 AM.

    Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.

    Respectfully yours,

    Peace be upon you.

    الدكتور الفاضل إبراهيم,

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته.

    بكامل التقدير والإحترام الذي أكنه لك أتقدم لك باقتراح بسيط متعلق بتوقيت لقائنا المجدول ليوم الخميس.

    نظرا للحدث المنظم في مبنى مكتبنا, أود أن أذكر أن المبنى سيكون مغلقا مع الساعة 12:30 ظهرا. إذا كان الأمر مناسبا لك, أرى أن نغير توقيت لقائنا إلى الساعة العاشرة صباحا.

    شكرا على حسن إنتباهكم إلى هذه المسألة,

    مع خالص التقدير والإحترام,

    السلام عليكم.

    Now, here’s a simpler email thanking the recipient for signing a contract. Again, there’s a lot of respectful language being used, but less indirect speech about the actual heart of the matter because nothing needs to be corrected.

    The Virtuous Mr. Mohamed Ezzahra,

    May the peace, blessings, and mercy of God be upon you.

    I would like to express my immense gratitude toward you for your commitment to ongoing cooperation between our two companies. I look forward to meeting you once more on the 25th.

    If you need the slightest amount of further information from me, do not hesitate to call my private number at [phone number].

    Yours sincerely and respectfully,

    Peace be unto you.

    حضرة السيد محمد الزهرة،

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته.

    أود أن أعبر عن امتناني الكبير لكم لالتزامكم بالتعاون المستمر بين شركتينا, وإنني لحقا أتطلع إلى لقائكم مرة أخرى في اليوم الخامس والعشرين من هذا الشهر.

    إذا كنتم بالحاجة إلى أقل قدر ممكن من المعلومات الإضافية ، فلا تترددوا في الاتصال برقم هاتفي الخاص: [رقم الهاتف].

    مع خالص الاحترام والاحترام،

    السلام عليكم

    With enough practice, you’ll soon get in the habit of thinking in this flowery writing style. Translating is awkward and clumsy, and should really be avoided now that you’re at an advanced level.

    What’s the best way to bring your Arabic level to even greater heights? Is true literacy in such a challenging language really possible?

    Study Arabic

    7. Continuing Your Arabic Studies

    It’s tough to find motivation to continue learning when you’re already at a high-intermediate or advanced level. Most people who reach that level just sort of coast at that point, never putting in the effort to improve significantly.

    But there are millions of people who have learned to read and write Arabic and English with ease. You could be one of them.

    If you’ve come this far, why not?

    The best way to continue learning is to read everything you come across and always work to make your own writing better.

    When it comes to improving your writing, it’s always good to learn from example. How many people have said that imitation is the best form of flattery?

    There are a couple of textbooks out there that are specifically designed for English-speakers learning business Arabic. One of the most highly regarded is Raji M. Rammuny’s Business Arabic, which comes in two levels and has an array of sample business correspondence to look at.

    If you’re already living in an Arab country or plan on visiting, check out the language-learning section of some bookstores and see if you can find books on business English.

    There are likely to be dozens of such guides to business English writing written in Arabic, and these are sure to have samples of Arabic business correspondence that you can learn from too.

    Don’t try to run before you can walk when writing in a foreign language, even one that you know well. It’s good to take material from others and use lots of set phrases. That’s what we do in our native language already.

    Remember that you’ve spent an enormous amount of time reading English business emails already—and you have much, much more experience with reading English text in general.

    You won’t need to spend the same amount of time on your Arabic literacy, but you should be constantly thinking of ways to integrate more Arabic reading practice at all levels into your daily life.

    If you pay close attention to what you read, you can pick up an advanced sense for when to use certain phrases and how to integrate them into your business writing.You’ll learn what sounds too brusque and what sounds—if possible—too formal.

    It may even be worth it to hire a tutor or take a private course in business writing. The faster you improve, the faster you’ll be able to reap the benefits of being able to reach people on a deeper level all across the Arab world.

    Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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    Secret Revealed: The Best Way to Learn a Language on Your Own

    Learning A Language on Your Own

    Can You Really Learn Arabic Alone?

    Learning a language on your own or without traditional classroom instruction may seem quite daunting at first. What if you run into questions? How do you stay motivated and on track to achieving goals?

    Don’t worry, not only is it possible to learn Arabic or any language without traditional classroom instruction: ArabicPod101 has created the world’s most advanced and extensive online language learning system. Not only is ArabicPod101 specifically designed to help you with learning a language on your own, it’s actually faster, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom options!

    Let’s look at some of the benefits of learning Arabic or any language alone.

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    3 Reasons to Learn a Language Alone

    Learning Alone

    1. Learn at Your Own Pace and On Your Schedule

    In today’s fast-paced world, there just isn’t time for traditional classroom instruction. Between getting to class and studying on some professor or teacher’s schedule, traditional classroom learning is simply impossible to fit in. But when you learn Arabic alone, you can study in bed if you like and whenever suits your schedule best, making it far easier to actually reach your goal of learning and mastering the language.

    2. Learning a Language on Your Own Reduces Stress and Anxiety

    Speaking in front of a class, pop quizzes, and tests are just a few of the stressors you will encounter when you learn a language in a traditional classroom setting. Specifically, these are external stressors that often derail most people’s dream of learning a new language. But when you learn Arabic alone, there are no external stressors. Without the external stress and anxiety, it becomes much easier and more exciting to study Arabic and reach your very own goals—all on your own!

    3. Learning Arabic Alone Helps Improve Cognitive Function and Overall Success

    Learning a language on your own is indeed more challenging in some ways than being taught in a traditional classroom setting. In fact, while classroom instruction requires more rote memorization and following instructions, studying a language on your own requires more problem-solving and higher cognitive function to self-teach lessons and hit goals. So while it’s more challenging and requires higher levels of cognition, teaching yourself a language pays dividends throughout life by better preparing you for social/work opportunities that arise.

    How to Learn a Language on Your Own with ArabicPod101

    Learning with ArabicPod101

    1. Access to the World’s Largest Collection of Arabic Audio & Video Lessons

    The best way to learn a language on your own is to study from native speaking instructors. Ideally, you want audio and/or video lessons that teach vocabulary, grammar, and provide actual Arabic conversations and dialogue to help you with pronunciation. ArabicPod101 has hundreds of hours of HD audio and video lessons created by real Arabic instructors and every lesson is presented by professional Arabic actors for perfect pronunciation. Plus, all lessons can be accessed 24/7 via any mobile device with Internet access. And, if you download the PDF versions of each lesson, you can even study without Internet access once the lesson is stored on your device!

    2. “Learning Paths” with Arabic Courses Based Upon Your Exact Needs & Goals

    Although ArabicPod101 has more than thousands of video and audio lessons, you need not review each and every one to learn the language. In fact, ArabicPod101 has developed a feature called “Learning Paths”. You simply tell us your goals and we will identify the best courses and study plan to help you reach them in the shortest time possible. So even though you are technically learning a language on your own, our team is always here to help and make sure you reach your goals FAST!

    3. Advanced Learning Tools Reduce Learning Time and Boost Retention

    When you have the right tools and Arabic learning resources, it’s actually easy to teach yourself a language! In the past 10+ years, ArabicPod101 has developed, tested, and refined more than 20 advanced learning tools to boost retention and reduce learning time, including:

    • Spaced Repetition Flashcards
    • Line-by-Line Dialogue Breakdown
    • Review Quizzes
    • Voice Recording Tools to Help Perfect Pronunciation
    • Teacher Feedback and Comments for Each Lesson
    • Arabic Dictionary with Pronunciation
    • Free PDF Cheat Sheets
    • And Much More!

    Armed with our growing collection of advanced learning tools, it’s truly a breeze to learn Arabic alone and reach your goals!

    Conclusion

    Learning a language on your own is not only possible, it’s actually easier and more beneficial for you than traditional classroom instruction. In fact, when you learn Arabic on your own you can study at your own pace, eliminate stress, and actually increase cognitive function.

    ArabicPod101 is the world’s most advanced online language learning system and a great resource to help you teach yourself a new language. With the world’s largest collection of HD audio and video lessons, more than 20 advanced learning tools, and customized “Learning Paths”, ArabicPod101 makes learning a new language easier, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom instruction.

    And the best part is: With ArabicPod101, you can study in bed, your car, or wherever you have a few spare minutes of time. Create your Free Lifetime Account now and get a FREE ebook to help “kickstart” your dream of learning a language on your own below!

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    Language Learning Tips: How to Avoid Awkward Silences

    Avoid Awkward Silences

    Yes, even beginners can quickly learn conversational Arabic well enough to carry on real conversations with native speakers. Of course, beginners won’t be able to carry a conversation the same way they could in their native language. But, just knowing a few tips like which questions to ask to keep a conversation going are all you need to speak and interact with real native speakers! But before we get to specific suggestions, let’s first take a closer look at how having real Arabic conversations is so vital to your mastery of the language.

    Learning to Carry a Conversation is Vital to Mastery of Any Language

    Communicating with other people is the very point of language and conversation is almost second nature in our native tongue. For beginners or anyone learning a new language, conversations aren’t easy at all and even simple Arabic greetings can be intimidating and awkward.

    However, there are 3 vital reasons why you should learn conversational Arabic as quickly as possible:

    • Avoid Awkward Silences: Nothing kills a conversation faster than long periods of awkward silence, so you need practice and specific strategies to avoid them.
    • Improve the Flow of Conversation to Make a Better Impression: When you know what to say to keep a conversation going, communication becomes much easier and you make a better impression on your listener.
    • Master the Language Faster: Nothing will help you learn to speak Arabic faster and truly master the language than having real conversations with native speakers. Conversations quickly expose you to slang, cultural expressions, and vocabulary that force you to absorb and assimilate information faster than any educational setting—and that’s a great thing!

    But how can you possibly have real conversations with real Arabic people if you are just starting out?

    3 Conversation Strategies for Beginners

    Conversation

    1. Ask Questions to Keep a Conversation Going

    For beginners and even more advanced speakers, the key is to learn to ask questions to keep a conversation going. Of course, they can’t be just random questions or else you may confuse the listener. But, by memorizing a few key questions and the appropriate time to use them, you can easily carry a conversation with minimal vocabulary or experience. And remember, the more Arabic conversations you have, the quicker you will learn and master the language!

    2. Learn Core Vocabulary Terms as Quickly as Possible

    You don’t need to memorize 10,000’s of words to learn conversational Arabic. In fact, with just a couple hundred Arabic words you could have a very basic Arabic conversation. And by learning maybe 1,000-2,000 words, you could carry a conversation with a native speaker about current events, ordering in restaurants, and even getting directions.

    3. Study Videos or Audio Lessons that You Can Play and Replay Again and Again

    If you want to know how to carry a conversation in Arabic, then you need exposure to native speakers—and the more the better. Ideally, studying video or audio lessons is ideal because they provide contextualized learning in your native language and you can play them again and again until mastery.

    ArabicPod101 Makes it Easier and More Convenient Than Ever to Learn Conversational Arabic

    Learning Arabic

    For more than 10 years, ArabicPod101 has been helping students learn to speak Arabic by creating the world’s most advanced online language learning system. Here are just a few of the specific features that will help you learn conversational Arabic fast using our proven system:

    • The Largest Collection of HD Video & Audio Lessons from Real Arabic Instructors: ArabicPod101 instructors have created hundreds of video and audio lessons that you can play again and again. And the best part is: They don’t just teach you Arabic vocabulary and grammar, they are designed to help you learn to speak Arabic and teach you practical everyday topics like shopping, ordering, etc!
    • Pronunciation Tools: Use this feature to record and compare yourself with native speakers to quickly improve your pronunciation and fluency!
    • 2000 Common Arabic Words: Also known as our Core List, these 2,000 words are all you need to learn to speak fluently and carry a conversation with a native speaker!

    In all, more than 20 advanced learning tools help you quickly build vocabulary and learn how to carry a conversation with native speakers—starting with your very first lesson.

    Conclusion

    Although it may seem intimidating for a beginner, the truth is that it is very easy to learn conversational Arabic. By learning a few core vocabulary terms and which questions to ask to keep a conversation going, just a little practice and exposure to real Arabic conversations or lessons is all it really takes. ArabicPod101 has created the world’s largest online collection of video and audio lessons by real instructors plus loads of advanced tools to help you learn to speak Arabic and carry a conversation quickly.

    Act now and we’ll also include a list of the most commonly used questions to keep a conversation going so you can literally get started immediately!

    Business in Arabic: Do You Really Need Business Arabic Language Skills?

    Business in Arabic

    You tell me!

    Every expat from Morocco to the UAE knows that Arabic is a tough language to learn.

    With gendered verbs, consonantal roots, and archaic vocabulary, it’s no walk in the park. And what’s the deal with that writing system?

    Wouldn’t it be better to skip the whole thing and hire a translator?

    Of course, that’s how the vast majority of foreigners doing business in Arabic-speaking countries deal with this problem.

    But is that really worth it?

    What do you lose and what do you gain by spending the time to learn the Arabic language?

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    1. Can You Get By Without Arabic?

    Sure! Lots of people already do.

    Big cities in the Arab world are already cosmopolitan. In Dubai alone, more than seventy-five percent of the population was born outside the UAE.

    In some cities in Qatar, that figure hits ninety percent.

    Plenty of people are running business operations and meeting with great success—all without knowing a word of the local language.

    English has become the common language that brings people together from every corner of the world.

    This is something that happens anywhere, not just in the Middle East. Wherever you go, you can find an expat living in a bubble of their own native language.

    Get By Without Arabic

    Of course, this is made possible by the fact that most educated people around the world speak English, particularly those in cosmopolitan cities.

    In the fast-developing, money-driven world of business, you might be hard-pressed to find people that only speak two languages!

    You’re going to easily find translators, interpreters, and fixers wherever you go. As a newly-arrived expat, you’ll be a perfect client.

    It’s important to note that in the industry, “translator” is used for text, and “interpreter” is used for oral communication.

    Translators and interpreters often work freelance, though there are quite a few translation agencies that can help you out. If you’re most comfortable in a language other than English, consider contacting a translation agency to find someone who speaks your mother tongue.

    The last thing to consider is the most valuable resource of all: time.

    Depending on the timeframe of your business operations, it might not be worth the time involved to learn Arabic.

    There’s no beating around the bush here—it takes a lot of effort to learn any new language to fluency.

    Arabic also poses unique challenges in the form of its script and the multiple spoken dialects.

    That means it’s going to take a serious and consistent time commitment if you want to make good progress in Arabic before you retire.

    There’s nothing wrong with hiring translators or interpreters and using that time to focus on your business.

    But what do you really gain with a new language?

    Getting By

    2. “Getting By” vs. “Thriving”

    Most people don’t realize how much they unintentionally ignore when they can’t understand the local language.

    They walk down the street and their eyes flick from English sign to English sign, completely skipping over any and all Arabic text in between.

    They wait in line at a mall or supermarket and keep their thoughts entirely in English, tuning out the Arabic store announcements, the Arabic conversations nearby, and maybe even the Arabic “Next please!”

    It’s incredibly easy to do this, especially after you’ve been in the country for a while and have gotten used to living in your own world.

    But when you start to learn the language and you start to tune in, the effect is amazing.

    I’ve heard it said that the only time you can use Arabic in the UAE is at passport control—but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    If you put a little bit of effort into going out and seeing what your city has to offer, you’ll soon find that you can use Arabic to experience a world far deeper than international hotels and business lounges.

    Understanding the local language shows you how much other expats are missing when they never interact with local opinions and attitudes toward the world.

    Just for starters, you can watch the same TV shows, listen to the same music, and read the same books that native Emiratis have grown up with. These are cultural touchstones that form an undercurrent of connection between people, just like popular culture does everywhere.

    Furthermore, you can read the local business newspapers and magazines. What better way to understand the business culture of your new country than by reading what the local business experts have to say?

    From marketing magazines to real estate brochures, advice columns to stock analysis, you’ll be able to understand how Arabs interact with the financial world as a whole. Many of these publications run inspirational success stories of locals or expats who saw a niche opportunity and seized it. That could be you!

    Yes, many of these have translations available, but not all of them—and there’s a whole world of business Arabic material online, too.

    Aside from reading and listening, the benefits of speaking are a no-brainer. With just a few words of spoken Arabic you can separate yourself from those expats who live their lives in business lounges and make no effort to learn the slightest bit.

    You’ll find opportunities to talk not only to native Emiratis, but with the entire population of Arabic-speaking expats that are looking for the same business opportunities as you.

    Contrary to what pessimistic monolinguals online may tell you, you’ll find people who speak Arabic at all levels of society.

    In fact, the overwhelming majority of them will be excited—thrilled, even—that a foreigner is making the effort to connect with their language and culture.

    You’ll open doors that you didn’t even know existed. You’d be shocked by how many people are willing to help out a foreigner who’s trying to immerse him- or herself in a foreign culture. The connections you can make through language are literally endless.

    And from a purely financial point of view, you’ll eliminate the costs and logistical problems of constantly relying on translators.

    Translators are highly skilled and they work hard, but introducing more people and more steps into a process always adds more potential failure points.

    By learning the language, you’ll never have to rely on a translation arriving overnight or put up with delays and excuses. Furthermore, you’ll be more comfortable signing contracts because you’ll be confident in the wording in both languages.

    If all these sound like good reasons to you, then let’s explore the language a bit further.

    What is Arabic

    3. What is “Arabic?”

    Arabic is one of the most widely-spoken languages around the world, with more than four-hundred million total speakers if you take all the dialects into account.

    It’s an official language of twenty-six countries in North Africa and the Middle East, and is even the liturgical language used by more than a billion-and-a-half followers of Islam worldwide.

    The Arabic family of scripts is instantly recognizable and has been used to write languages as diverse as Turkish, Malay, and even Spanish in the past. These days, it’s used across Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia by Iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis, and even some Chinese to write their own languages.

    There’s a formal standardized dialect called Modern Standard Arabic, which is used for literature, news broadcasts, and politics. Modern Standard Arabic, or MSA, ultimately derives from the classical language of the Quran, though it’s adopted some modern vocabulary.

    Nobody speaks MSA natively, but nearly every Arabic speaker can understand it from school lessons.

    Instead, today speakers of Arabic grow up using a local variety, which belongs to a set of language varieties known as “Arabic dialects.” That phrase implies that speakers of different dialects can understand each other, but in practice only people from neighboring countries can.

    For example, Moroccan Arabic and Gulf Arabic are pretty far apart both geographically and linguistically. Even though they both stem from the same ancestor language, they’ve diverged in different ways because of the natural processes of language change.

    Further complicating this situation is the fact that Egyptian media is widely consumed and enjoyed all throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Egyptian film and music stars are recognized from Casablanca to Abu Dhabi.

    That means that many foreigners learn Egyptian Arabic for tourism purposes, even if they’re actually planning to go to several Arab countries. If a Saudi Arabian Arabic-speaker meets an Egyptian Arabic-speaker, the Saudi is likely to be able to “Egyptianize” their speech in order to be more easily understood.

    Foreigners tend to be drawn toward learning dialects because they’re significantly simpler in terms of grammar. MSA preserves quite a few grammatical complexities that fell out of use in the spoken
    languages centuries ago.

    Learn Arabic

    4. What Does it Take to Learn Arabic?

    You’re going to have to make one very important decision based on the information above:

    Decide whether to learn MSA or a dialect.

    Each of these choices has clear advantages and disadvantages.

    If you learn MSA, you’re immediately opening up the written language of the whole Arab world. You’ll be able to understand news (including international Arabic-language news services) in any Arab country and do all of that local business reading that was mentioned earlier.

    The literature of more than a thousand years will be available to you, providing you with that deep base of cultural knowledge that informs the modern-day business world.

    Not to mention, in countries like the UAE it’s required by law that all official documents—including legal contracts—be written in MSA. That’s where you’re going to save time and money on translators.

    On the other hand, focusing on spoken Arabic first opens up an entirely new set of doors. This is the language of the street, the language that touches locals’ hearts.

    Again, the vast majority of Arabs do not speak MSA. They can understand it, but they’ll just respond to you in their own local variety. Talk about confusing!

    Arabs are used to using their local language at all times, even when conducting business or traveling to nearby countries. Some highly-educated speakers might use more MSA vocabulary or grammar in formal situations, but just as many stick to their own dialect.

    If you only know the written language, you’ll have to essentially learn the local dialect as a separate language at the same time in order to actually speak it. Not many people have time for that.

    Besides, as a total beginner it will be easier to focus on tackling the simplified grammar of a modern spoken variety.

    Since dialects in close geographical proximity are easier to understand, focusing on something like Gulf Arabic will make the dialects of nearby countries easy to learn—and those are the countries who have great numbers of successful expats living and working in the Gulf.

    Finally, although Arabic literature mostly exists in, well, literary Arabic, the local language opens you up to the modern-day popular culture.

    Even setting aside the massive media presence of Egyptian Arabic, every dialect has music, movies, and TV shows that are beloved by millions.

    Those are just as important in being able to make and understand the cultural references that are sure to crop up in any conversation between locals.

    You might be thinking at this point if it is possible to learn Arabic by yourself.

    It is! Millions of people have learned Arabic without a teacher, using the best study tool available: immersion.

    This is where the habit of ignoring everything not in English really hurts.

    If you can’t read even the first letter of the Arabic script, you’re missing out on near-constant reading practice virtually wherever you look. The same goes for tuning out Arabic music on the radio or flipping past Arabic news on the TV.

    As much as it may seem otherwise to expats, even extremely international countries like the UAE run on Arabic. You just have to open your eyes.

    Middle Easterners are some of the most kind, open, and hospitable people on the planet. If you start mentioning that you’re interested in practicing Arabic, you’ll be bowled over with offers of help.

    Making local friends and getting out of your comfort zone as an expat is always challenging, but there’s practically no better place for it than in Arab countries. The support from all sides is unparalleled.

    What’s the connection between chatting with friends in their dialect and pulling off skillful business negotiations in a boardroom? Just that—the connection.

    Expanding your social circle is inevitably going to expose you to potential business contacts. And it only takes a little bit of practice to pick up the more ritualized language of business Arabic.

    If you’re serious about learning this language, you can find private teachers in-person and online practically anywhere. Any local translator or fixer will have contacts who can teach you the language.

    Ideally, you should find a teacher who’s sensitive to your goals about learning (whether it be MSA or the local variety) and can give you immediately-useful lessons tailored to your own daily life.

    There are also many fine websites and coursebooks available for the independent learner. After you find a course that you like, run it by a local to see if it passes muster. You wouldn’t want to spend all day studying and then find that you’ve learned useless vocabulary!

    In fact, being in the country offers you unique advantages for learning. If you happen to get a couple of different people teaching you simple phrases and structures, ask for something really local and authentic—something an expat probably wouldn’t know.

    Then turn around and use that phrase with your other teacher. They’ll be surprised you’re learning so quickly, and they’ll immediately want to teach you their special local phrase.

    When you make the commitment to learning a new language, the more effort you put in the more you’ll get out. There are some people that seem to pick up new languages effortlessly and some that study for years without ever getting past the basics.

    The only difference is time and effort. If you look closer, you’ll find that the linguistic genius is probably spending all their free time listening to podcasts or TV shows—maybe putting in five or six hours a day at minimum. The slow learner might be only casually glancing at the same textbook or meeting for half an hour once a week before returning to an English-language bubble.

    Learning

    6. How About the Results?

    What you can realistically expect in terms of results is directly related to the time you’re prepared to invest. And of course, you’re not just in the country to learn the language. You have your own life and your own career to focus on first.

    If you can afford to seriously sit down and study for just 45 minutes to an hour a day, you’ll start to see noticeable progress in about two to three months. After about a year, you should be able to have basic conversations.

    Consistency is key, as is keeping your mind open for opportunities to see and use the language whenever you can. By “thinking in Arabic” whenever you see and hear it around you, you’ll make progress much faster than someone who’s just trying to learn in their free time.

    This is especially true if you work with a reliable tutor who’s aware of your goals. Setting concrete goals for language study, such as “I want to be able to read short online news articles” or “I want to make small talk at a business lunch” is the best way to be able to measure your progress.

    If you’re just beginning to make a long-term commitment to live and work in the Middle East, imagine yourself five or six years from now.

    Wouldn’t it be great to speak fluent Arabic by that time?

    The choice is yours.

    Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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    How to Transform Your Daily Commute Into Learning a Language

    Learn a language during your commute!

    Today, classrooms are no longer the only or even best place to learn a new language like Arabic. More and more people are finding that they can easily learn a language just about anywhere they have a few minutes of spare time, including their daily commute to work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American spends over 50 minutes a day commuting to and from work, or over 300 hours a year.

    Rethinking Your Daily Commute to Work

    But rather than simply sitting in traffic and wasting the time, you can instead use your daily commute to literally learn Arabic in just a few short months! ArabicPod101 has developed specialized learning tools that you can use on your commute to work (and home again) to master the language in your spare time. Keep reading to learn how to get your free audiobook to use on your next commute so you can see for yourself how easy it is to transform “dead time” into realizing your dream of learning a new language!

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    But before we look at how to transform your commute home into a mini-classroom, let’s take a closer look at 4 reasons why traditional classroom settings just aren’t the best option for most people in today’s fast-paced world.

    • Difficulty Getting to and From Class
    • Learning on Someone Else’s Schedule
    • Very Expensive and May Cost $1,000’s to Complete
    • Can Take Years to Finally Complete Classes and Learn the Language

    The simple truth is that traditional classroom instruction is simply not a viable option for most people in today’s very fast-paced, time-starved world. Now let’s examine how you can learn a language faster, more easily, and at far less expense than traditional classes—all during your commute to work and back home again!

    Bus

    3 Reasons Your Daily Commute Can Help You Master a Language

    1. The Average Commute Time is More than 300 Hours Per Year

    Between the commute to work and getting back home again, over 6 hours a week is completely wasted and not helping you reach any goals or objectives. But thanks to online language learning platforms with audiobooks and other resources that you can access during your commute, you can easily transform wasted time into tangible progress towards learning a new language. With over 300 hours available annually, your daily commute could provide you with enough time to literally master a new language each and every year!

    2. Increase Your Earning Potential While Commuting to Work

    How would you like to transform all those spare commuting hours each week into more money for a new car, house, or even a dream vacation? According to research, someone making $30,000 per year can boost their annual income by $600 or more per year by learning a second language. Added up over the course of a lifetime, you can boost your total earnings by $70,000 or more while achieving your dream of learning a new language during your daily commute!

    How? From work-at-home translation jobs to working overseas, there are many ways to leverage your second language into more money in your bank account! So instead of wasting your precious time, you can make your commute more productive and profitable and the more languages you learn, the higher your income potential.

    3. Repetition is Key to Mastering a New Language

    Not sure if it’s practical to learn another language while commuting to and from work each day? Well not only is it possible—learning in your car on the way to and from work each day can actually help you learn and master Arabic or any language much faster! The simple truth is that repetition is absolutely vital to truly internalizing and mastering any language. So, if you listen to audiobooks or even audio lessons on your commute to work and then repeat the same lesson on your commute home, the information is more likely to be “locked-in” to your long-term memory!

    Learning

    5 Ways ArabicPod101 Makes It Easy to Learn a Language On Your Commute

    ArabicPod101 has been helping people just like yourself learn and master Arabic in the comfort of their home, during their daily commute, or any place they have a few minutes of spare time. Here are five features provided by ArabicPod101 that make it easy to learn a new language while commuting to and from work:

    1. The Largest Collection of Audio Lessons on Planet by Native Speaking Instructors
    Every single week, ArabicPod101 creates new audio lessons by native speaking instructors. All lessons are short, to the point, and guaranteed to improve your mastery of Arabic.

    2. Word of the Day
    Simply exposing yourself to new information and vocabulary terms helps increase your fluency and mastery of Arabic. So every single day, ArabicPod101 adds a new Word of the Day for you to learn and memorize during your commute.

    3. Daily Dose Mini-Lessons
    Have a short commute to work but still want to make progress towards learning and mastering Arabic? Not a problem! Our Daily Dose Mini-Lessons are 1-minute or less and designed to improve your grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

    4. All Content Available on a Convenient Mobile App
    You don’t need a PC or tablet to learn Arabic during your daily commute. At ArabicPod101, all of our lessons, tools, and resources are available 24/7 via our Mobile App. That means you can access all of our audio lessons and other tools during your commute to work or any time you have a few spare moments!

    5. Audiobooks and Other Supplemental Resources
    In addition to the world’s largest online collection of HD audio lessons, ArabicPod101 has also created several audiobooks to enhance your understanding and make it more convenient than ever to learn a language during your commute!

    Conclusion

    The average commute time of most Americans is over 300 hours each year and it’s the perfect opportunity to learn and master a new language. In fact, you can use the “dead time” during your daily commute to learn a new language and potentially boost your lifetime earnings by up to $70,000 or more! Whatever your motivation, ArabicPod101 has the tools and resources necessary to help you learn a new language each year during your commute to and from work. Act now and we’ll even provide you with a free audiobook to try out on your next commute!

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    Saying Hello in Arabic: What You Need to Know

    How to Say Hello in Arabic
    What word passes between native speakers a dozen times a day without a second thought, but leaves a learner tongue-tied, terrified of making a faux pas?
    It’s “hello”—but it’s also all the cultural knowledge that comes with it. Saying hello in Modern Standard Arabic is no picnic if you don’t know the cultural context! Keep reading if you’ve ever wondered “How do Arabs say hello?”

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    Every Arabic phrasebook or guidebook has an entry for “hello,” but I’ll bet that they didn’t tell you how to use it. No matter how good your grammar is, slapping Arabic words into English cultural contexts will leave anybody confused.

    Fortunately, you’ve got this guide to keep you on the right path. Arabs are legendary for their hospitality, and putting a little bit of work into the language will turn whatever goodwill they have for you up to eleven.

    Plus, it’s just plain respectful to learn about other people’s cultures.

    So with these advantages firmly in mind, let’s take a look right now at the beautiful and varied ways of using Standard Arabic to say hello.

    1. Peace Be Upon You

    • السلام عليكم (as-salām ʿalaykum) — “Peace be upon you!”

    This greeting gets its own special section right at the top. It’s used literally all over the world by Muslims of every country as a respectful greeting. If you’re not Muslim, don’t worry about offending anybody by using it—on the contrary, they’ll take it very well. This may just be the best way to say hello in Arabic.

    What’s going on grammatically here? You may be spooked by the idea that “hello” is six syllables long. It turns out it’s pretty simple!

    السلام (salām) means “peace” and عليكم is “upon you”—a combination of the preposition على (ʿala) meaning “on” and ـكم (kum), the suffix meaning “you (plural).”

    If someone says this to you (or an audience you’re in) there is exactly one possible response:

    • وعليكم السلام (wa ʿalaykum as-salām) — “And peace be upon you.”

    Same idea, same meaning, slightly different structure to shake things up.
    This time, we’re going to add a cute little و (wa) to the front here, adding the meaning “and” to the base structure.

    2. Hi! Hey! Hello!

    Hello

    As you’re no doubt aware, Modern Standard Arabic isn’t really used casually among people in their day-to-day life—so there aren’t a zillion slangy ways of greeting as there are in other languages.

    But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to excessively formal ways to say hello. Take a look at these phrases in the Arabic language of how to say hello:

    • مرحبا (marḥaban) — “Hello”
    • أهلا – (ʿahlan) — “Hi”
    • أهلا وسهلا (ʿahlan wa-sahlan) — “Welcome / How do you do?”

    These three are less official-sounding than “Peace be upon you.”
    Fun fact: ahlan wa-sahlan literally means “Family and easy circumstances.” It’s a shortened version of an old Classical Arabic welcoming expression and has survived until today as a set phrase—much like “how do you do” doesn’t really sound like a greeting when you deconstruct it.

    Arabic Greetings

    3. As the Day Goes On

    Arabic has time-oriented greetings just like many other languages. When learning how to say hello in Arabic, phrases like the ones below will definitely come in handy.
    If it’s before noon, you’ll want to greet people with:

    • صباح الخير (ṣabāḥ ul-ḫayr) — Good morning!

    To which you will very often hear the response:

    • صباح النور (ṣabāḥ an-nūr) — Good morning!

    The key words here are:

    • صباح (sabaah) — morning
    • خير (ḫayr) — good
    • نور (nūr) — light

    So in a way you’re saying “A good morning!” and hearing “A light morning!” And I think that’s beautiful.

    MSA, and thus Arabic culture, doesn’t really have a word for “good afternoon.” In fact in some phrasebooks you’ll see an entry for “good afternoon,” but in fact it’s the same as “good evening.”

    Any time after noon, you’ll use this phrase:

    • مساء الخير (masāʾ ul-ḫayr) — Good evening!

    The structure is the same as the phrase for “good morning,” just as the pattern goes in English.
    In fact, the structure for the response is, too:

    • مساء النور (masāʾ un-nūr) — Good morning!

    Perhaps you’ve already guessed the new word here:

    • مساء (masā) — evening

    If these new words are making you feel in over your head, don’t worry. You can actually skip the un-nūr bit and just reply masāʾ ul-ḫayr or ṣabāḥ ul-ḫayr directly.

    These two phrases are a perfect level of formality for the workplace. If you work with Arabic speakers, greet them in the morning or afternoon in Arabic and watch the smiles appear all around.

    4. And How are You?

    Now that you’ve learned some common ways to say hello in Arabic, we can focus on how to develop a short conversation.

    • كيف الحال؟ (kayfal-ḥāl?) — How is everything?

    In English we’d say “How are things?” but you’ll note in a moment that the word al-haal is singular, not plural in Arabic.

    In fact, you can make it slightly more personal and add the -uk suffix (when speaking to a man) or the -ik suffix (when speaking to a woman): kayfa ḥāluki?

    Responses here can vary a lot.

    One option is very familiar for English speakers:

    • بخير، شكرا (biḫayr, šukran) — Fine, thanks

    These words translate literally, so I won’t put them down below in the vocab section. Culturally, it’s not as strange to actually reply with “how are you doing,” when you speak Arabic.
    Let’s say you actually don’t have a lot of time to chat, or you’ve got a lot of things on your mind. You could say:

    • مشغول (mašġūl) — Busy

    Remember that this is the masculine form. A woman would say مشغولة (mašġūla) instead, with the same meaning.

    Let’s have a look again at that question. The more we break down these everyday greetings, the clearer it becomes that Arabic really isn’t too difficult at all.

    • كيف (kayfa) — How
    • حال (ḥāl) — Situation; circumstance

    The polite response to “how are you” in many cultures is something like “And yourself?”
    So we can add this in Arabic too. To a man, you’d say:

    • و أنت؟ (wa anta?) — And you? [masculine]

    The question as posed to a woman is written identically, but pronounced:

    • و أنت؟ (wa anti?) — And you? [feminine]

    And it can’t hurt to keep saying شكرا (šukran), meaning “thank you,” after you offer your answer.

    Also keep in mind that you’ll very likely hear this phrase in the context of saying good things:

    • الحمد لله (al-ḥamdu lillah) — Praise be to God!

    Culturally, this is used much more commonly than “thank God” is in the West. Any time you mention something good that happened to you or someone you know, it’s perfectly fine to say this phrase.

    5. Phone’s for You

    Holding A Phone

    It’s an interesting fact of our modern interconnected world that the English word “hello” is so widely known and understood.

    Even though it’s a little too formal for people in everyday life to actually say “hello” to one another, it’s the standard and automatic greeting we use whenever we pick up the phone.

    And in Standard Arabic, it turns out it’s the same!

    • آلو (‘alo) — Hello?

    In other Arabic dialects, locals may have their own way of answering the phone. Nevertheless, ‘aaloo is both so common and so simple for English speakers, that you’re not likely to forget it.

    6. Small Talk is No Big Deal

    Suppose you’re in a situation where there’s nothing to do but fill an awkward silence.

    One of the best small talk topics is to ask about someone’s family.

    But don’t say anything that might come off as too forward. That means no direct questions about a man’s wife, especially asking her name or age.

    He might get the wrong impression and resent you for asking.

    So it’s better to literally inquire politely about his “family” instead.

    • كيف حال عائلتك ؟ (kayfa ḥalu ʿāʾilatuk?) — How is your family?

    Now, he’s almost definitely going to tell you about his wife, but that’s no problem. Just as long as you weren’t the first to bring her up.

    Another great and safe topic is the weather.

    • الجو جميل اليوم (al-ǧawwu ǧamīl al-yawm) — The weather’s nice today.
    • هل تظن أنها ستمطر؟ (hal taẓunnu ʾannahā satumṭir?) — Do you think it will rain?

    Don’t complain too much, but once you’re on a bit of an even social footing you can shake your head in exasperation and say:

    • الجو حار (al-ǧawwu ḥār) — It’s hot!

    Have a look—you can still see the word جو (ǧaw), meaning “weather,” in that last sentence. In English, we can say “It’s hot,” but in Arabic we have to say “the weather is hot.”

    7. You’ve Mastered the Language — Now What Else?

    It’s still pretty rare for foreigners to know or even attempt any Arabic when visiting an Arab country.

    More than likely, you’ll receive smiles and praise for saying hello or anything else in Arabic.

    But what comes with that hello? Etiquette, culture, and tradition.

    Don’t be frightened. You’ve got a lot of leeway as a visitor or foreigner, so don’t feel under a ton of pressure to perform exactly as a local. (Though it’s always good to make an effort to sound polite.)
    For example, in many Arab countries people do an “air-kiss” on the cheeks to say hello.

    The procedure and number of kisses varies from country to country, so there’s no one-size-fits-all guide out there.

    In fact, it’s a source of lighthearted frustration for Arabs themselves at times!
    Three basic tips, though:

    • Look before you kiss: Going in blind is a recipe for disaster
    • Go for the right side first: Most of the time, the other person will too
    • Don’t actually touch the cheek: It’s just an air kiss, not a peck

    These ought to get you far enough to pick up the rest when it’s time.

    In general, when men meet women in a formal setting for the first time, they should avoid initiating an air-kiss or any other gesture of friendly intimacy like a handshake or hug. Hang back and watch what others do, or simply give a verbal greeting first.

    It’s okay to ask your hosts discreetly (and politely!) “Hey, do I have to kiss these people?” Remember, you’re not expected to know everything about how to behave.

    It turns out, though, that often the answer is yes. It’s not uncommon for groups of upwards of twenty to spend several minutes just on the kissing!

    8. Come Bearing Gifts

    Giving Gift

    Gift-giving is a much more important part of Arabic culture than it is in the West.

    It’s actually linked quite closely with greetings, and so the same general principles apply. Don’t be too forward and don’t offer gifts that are too personal.

    For instance, it’s probably best to avoid fragrances or clothing unless you know the person well.

    Food is a fantastic choice. Everyone appreciates a gift of dates or nuts. They can be stored or eaten right away—in fact, you may get to share as well!

    Always give the gift with your right hand or both hands at once. The left hand is usually considered unclean in traditional Arab cultures.

    9. Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

    No guide on saying hello would be complete without tips on saying goodbye.

    Culturally, saying goodbye in Arabic takes a lot longer than its equivalent in the West. It’s considered quite rude in the Arab world to leave abruptly without paying respect to those whom you were visiting.

    Just like saying “Hello” on the phone, the English word “Bye” has crept into everyday Arabic too. Here’s how it’s written out:

    • باي (bāi) — Bye

    The most polite and formal phrase is:

    • مَع السَلامة (maʿ al-salāmah) — With (the) peace

    If this is said to you, you can repeat the same thing. “With peace!” “With peace!”

    Another excellent option is to use this slightly less formal phrase:

    • إلى اللِقاء (ʾilā al-liqāʾ) — Until we meet again!

    This literally means, “To the encounter,” which happens to translate perfectly to the French au revoir.

    Conclusion

    Who would have thought that the language used in a quick chat would have so many intricate facets?

    If it seems like this is part of some “mysterious Arab culture” then think again. I could write a guide twice as long in Arabic about the particulars of saying hello in American or British culture.

    No culture or language is inherently more complex than another. It’s all based on what you’re used to.

    So now that you have a solid grounding in what’s involved in Arabic greetings, why not explore even more about the language and culture on ArabicPod101.com? We have all the resources you need to become a pro in the language, from vocabulary lists on a range of topics, to our MyTeacher app which offers one-on-one guidance as you learn Arabic.

    We wish you the best on your Arabic-learning journey!

    Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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