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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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Customer Service in UAE: How to Handle Your UAE Customer

Customer Service in UAE

The UAE is not a big place.

Its geographical area fits neatly between Austria and Ireland on a list of countries.

And yet, it has some staggering numbers attached to it. One of the most interesting is that expats vastly outnumber locals—in some places, by a factor of nine to one.

That means that any customer-facing business venture in the UAE has to take into account not just the local culture, but a mix of cultures from all around the world.

As someone in charge of that customer service, you’ll be faced with an unenviable task.

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How is it that some businesses thrive in such an environment, while others fade away into the dust?

It’s simple, really, and it’s a lesson that can be applied to all aspects of expat life:

The flexible survive. The stubborn fail.

In today’s article, you’ll learn how you can best apply that flexibility to your advantage—in other words, how you can master customer service culture in the UAE.

First, you’ve got to learn about the people. Who is your consumer?

Expat Environment

1. Understanding the Expat Environment

It can be incredibly difficult to comprehend the kind of growth and population explosion that the UAE has seen in the last twenty years.

If you go back to your hometown after being away for five years, it’s likely to look about the same.

But just try and imagine that every single year for the last twenty years, your hometown has boomed in popularity. People have started moving in from every corner of the globe.

The familiar streets and familiar environment have all changed before your eyes, as businesses opened and closed, new houses and apartments went up, and whole new roads were built where before there was just empty space.

In 2005, the ratio of expats to locals in the UAE was already more than 3 to 1.

By 2015, the local population stayed almost the same—but the expat population nearly tripled.

According to the latest statistics, native-born Emiratis make up just 20% of the national population. They mainly live in rural areas, while the proportion of expats in the largest cities can reach almost 90 percent.

Who are these expats and what do they want?

Well, if you’re reading this article, you might be one of them. And what about the others?

Virtually every nationality has some expats living in the UAE.

The largest population group is from India, making up 25% of the expat population, and that group is closely followed by Pakistanis with 12%. Sri Lankans and Afghans together number more than 800,000.

People from countries across the Arab world such as Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq form another sizeable expat group with more than a million people coming from these countries alone.

Another six hundred thousand are from just two countries in Southeast Asia, namely Indonesia and the Philippines. As Muslim-majority countries, these countries have close ties to the Middle East.

Comparatively few expats are from East Asia, African countries, Europe, or the Americas. The notable exceptions are China, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, which together contribute roughly five hundred thousand expats to the UAE. Let’s not forget—this number is roughly half of the entire native Emirati population!

Now, why are so many people attracted to living in the UAE?

Very broadly speaking, expats from South and Southeast Asia tend to work in construction, transport, or as domestic helpers. That said, it’s important to remember that some of the largest and most successful national brands in the UAE were founded by Indian entrepreneurs.

That includes supermarket chains, pharmacies, cosmetics, and even healthcare. Indian expats in the UAE enjoy a strong and well-established social network with roots stretching back centuries.

In contrast, although the population of expats from East Asia and countries in Europe and North America is relatively low, it may appear disproportionately high in the business world as most of these expats have high positions in international companies.

Virtually all of the Koreans, for instance, as well as the English-speaking South Africans, have positions in companies registered to their country of origin.

Lastly, finding the culture and language barrier far lower than in other places, many Arabs from neighboring countries choose to study abroad at the well-known universities in the UAE. It may come as no surprise, then, that a majority of them major in business.

2. Understanding the Locals

Something that might strike you about these demographic figures is that the native Emiratis seem like they have no sector left to dominate.

The fact is, most locals aspire to jobs in the government or military, as these are seen as much more respectable than the private sector. Some attitudes are changing, particularly with regard to the food and beverage industry as more local Emiratis want to present an authentic view of their home cuisine to the world.

Now, if you want to sell products in the UAE, you need to understand their culture.

Religion

Religion

One of the first things when looking at an Arab consumer market is religion.

It’s no secret that the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country. Islam is the state religion, and almost all Emirati citizens follow it—let alone the vast numbers of expats from Muslim countries worldwide.

What does that mean for local consumer culture in particular?

You’ve almost certainly heard before how Muslims avoid certain products because of religious restrictions. You’re not going to make much progress with the locals if you advertise pulled pork and beer on tap.

Less well-known, though, is what Muslims do tend to buy.

Ramadan

What Ramadan Can Mean for Business

A study came out recently showing that in London—a city with a sizeable Muslim minority—most Muslims feel that the holy month of Ramadan is largely ignored by retailers.

Anybody who’s spent time in a Muslim-majority country during Ramadan knows that the streets light up with activity as soon as the sun sets. People can’t wait to treat each other to meals and buy each other gifts.

Cafés, too, become vibrant hubs of conversation late into the night. Some café owners report as much as a one-hundred percent increase in activity during the month of Ramadan—which, keep in mind, prohibits eating and drinking throughout the day!

And all through the year, Muslims are becoming more and more interested in consumer trends such as halal travel packages and modest fashion.

Being informed about and taking advantage of these consumer demands is key to creating a powerful brand that people can rely on.

Trust and Relationship

Culture of Trust and Relationship

Nobody can comment on Arab culture without mentioning how incredibly open, sociable, and hospitable it is.

Governments have even built tourism brands on the strength of Arab hospitality.

Part of that openness means that Arab consumers want trust at all levels.

Sometimes consumers can be apathetic about their purchasing habits at times and shop on impulse. Those traits aren’t absent from Arab cultures, but in general they’re a lot more rare.

Therefore, your UAE customer is likely going to take the advice of people they trust before they make major purchasing decisions.

That might take the form of a family discussion, a chat with a close friend, or a quick group text.

They’ll also want to know a lot about the product or service itself. If you’re in the auto business, for instance, you’re going to have to be prepared for your Arab consumers to ask a lot of questions about the particulars of the car and the financing.

Once you build up that trust, that personal relationship, you’re likely to keep that customer for a long, long time. They’ll recommend you to their own social networks as well—all because you took the time to listen to what they wanted.

Solving Customer Problems

3. Solving Customer Problems on a Global Scale

No matter where you are, your customer is expecting good service.

But what does that mean, exactly? It means that when the customer has any interaction at all with your business, what they expect is strongly related to their culture.

And not only their home culture; if they’re the international sort, they’ve built up an idea of what to expect outside of their home country, as well.

Let’s look at two industries—retail and hospitality—that live and die on customer experience.

Retail

Retail and Hospitality: Arab Culture

Arabs are used to a wide variety of choices when it comes to retail. Even in traditional bazaars, you can see the same types of goods on display from many different people.

For that reason, Arab consumers tend to be less loyal to one particular store if they can get similar goods in other places.

And because of a combination of the punishing desert heat and the Arab penchant for hospitality, the retail spaces themselves have to be welcoming.

The big cities of the UAE are famous for enormous and richly decorated malls already. Inside, you’ll find large open spaces for relaxation and socialization.

Customers from Arab countries are going to expect service that helps them out while they’re browsing and makes them feel welcome to stay as long as they’d like in the store.

Retail and Hospitality: Shoppers from Abroad

International customers from Europe and North America, by contrast, don’t quite have the same needs.

First of all, in some countries, particularly the United States, consumers are becoming more disappointed by retail all the time. It’s common to hear about American malls closing or selling off space.

To appeal to these shoppers, the retail space has to offer something that can’t be found online. Part of that is the welcoming, attractive venue, but another part is the service.

Such shoppers also expect that the service staff at any retail location will be open, friendly, and knowledgeable without being pushy. Attempts to make a sale by promoting another product with anything more than a slight suggestion come off as aggressive.

At the same time, these customers expect that any questions they have about products or promotions can be answered immediately—either by a clerk or a manager.

Now, when it comes to vacations, a lot of tourists love the idea of being in an unknown part of the world.

Even if the place they’re visiting is clearly a developed cosmopolitan city, they’ll be more likely to spend money on things they judge to be “authentic.”

They’ll love it if the hotel staff recommends a “local restaurant” for them to try, and they likely expect to be able to explore the area at their own speed.

Retail and Hospitality: East Asian Culture

Tourists from East Asia, however, tend to enjoy a more curated travel experience. They’re more likely to take package travel deals, and many who don’t speak any foreign languages are happy to remain with a tour group for their entire stay.

What This Means

And back to well-traveled expats—what they’re looking for is something that ticks the boxes of their home culture and fits with the surrounding environment. That means if you can find a way to present a pleasing “slice of home” that’s already integrated to the local environment, you’ve got it made.

Negative customer experiences happen when the customer is expecting a certain level of service and in reality, it just doesn’t live up to what they wanted.

People are different, and everybody makes mistakes. So this happens all around the world—and when it does, how are you going to react?

Language Is Key

4. Language is Key

If you’re not already one, imagine yourself for a moment in the role of an expat manager in the UAE.

Your company has brought you to a new country to make sure that things run smoothly and in line with the owners’ vision.

If there’s some miscommunication or lack of cohesion between the upper management, your workers, and your customers, you might be asked to lead a training session to help solve these problems.

Don’t do it in English.

If you really want to reach the people you’re working with and really understand what’s going on, you’ve got to let them communicate with you in their own language.

When your company is experiencing problems because of cultural miscommunications—and this is almost guaranteed to happen to every company with operations abroad—language and cultural competence is everything.

Whether you’re doing market research, employee training, or simple everyday customer service, knowledge of more languages will help every step of the way.

Even in highly multilingual environments such as the UAE, people still feel more comfortable speaking about complicated or personal matters in their mother tongue.

That could be one of the many varieties of Arabic such as Gulf Arabic, Levantine Arabic, or even Egyptian Arabic. By the way, you won’t find anybody who’d prefer to talk to you in the literary register of Modern Standard Arabic.

It could also mean one of the other widely-spoken languages of the UAE such as Hindi, French, or Tagalog. Remember, the service industry is overwhelmingly comprised of expats, and not just from Arab countries.

Seriously—people on every level of your organization will warm up to you more if you make an effort to speak and understand their native language. If someone has a problem with another worker or even management, they’ll hesitate to cross language and cultural barriers to communicate it.

That knowledge paints you as a savvy, experienced leader who has the brains and the dedication to really listen to what other people say.

And if you don’t personally have this language and cultural competence, find someone who does.

Multilingual facilitators and intercultural communications coaches can help resolve conflicts faster than you ever thought possible.

Open Eyes

5. Open Eyes, Open Ears

Here’s a tip that comes from marketing, but is equally applicable to any consumer-facing part of a business. In fact, it’s applicable to every part of life in general!

And the advice is this: You’ve got to listen to the people around you and be ready to adjust to what they say.

In marketing, this is obvious. Market research is a multimillion-dollar industry focused on just that.

But when was the last time a manager listened to their employees and their customers with equal attention?

Everyone’s got a story about a manager who barely lifted a finger to hear what the employees had to say.

They should know that that inaction is hurting everyone—because the consumer-facing employees often develop an intuitive sense for how to handle different types of customers. It’s a terrible mistake for someone removed from all of the local cultures to be setting the rules for employee-customer interactions.

People who have worked customer service for years on end can usually tell what someone’s complaint is without thinking.

That information is just as valuable to the company as a million-dollar consumer trend study. Making use of it is not only going to have a good impact on your company’s internal affairs, but it’s also going to increase customer satisfaction if you don’t force your employees to adhere to your own notions of customer service.

How can you apply this to your business in the UAE, and to the challenges of a diverse expat consumer group?

Understand that your employees may come from a culture that is similar to that of many of their customers. That gives them an inherent advantage in making those customers happy.

They should know how to quickly and easily handle customer interactions with polite, attentive professionalism—and as a part of that, they should be flexible about what they consider polite or rude behavior from customers. That’s where your cultural training sessions come into play.

If your employees can pass on customer wants and needs to the upper management and take direction from both sides, the company will understand the customers better and everyone will have a better experience.

In other words: If you can manage to instill a habit of cultural sensitivity and flexibility in your business from the top down, you’re guaranteed to do well with customers from the UAE, the Arab world, and beyond.

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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Your One-Size-Fits-All Guide to UAE Business Culture

UAE Business Culture

Picture a crowded Dubai street. What do you see?

Maybe you thought of towering skyscrapers, sweltering sunshine, luxury cars.

Who do you see?

Men in flowing white kandurahs? Women in abayas? Or a sea of faces from all over the world?

The United Arab Emirates is made up of eighty percent expats.

That’s an astounding number.

But they must be doing something right.

The average annual income in the UAE is nearly US $130,000.

That means that aside from a strong sense of business savvy, the expats living, working, and thriving in the UAE have something truly special.

They understand and embrace the local business culture.

It’s not an easy task.

That’s why we’ve compiled this one-size-fits-all guide to UAE business culture.

One article can’t capture everything. You’ll need to arrive with an open mind and be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them.

But this guide is going to let you hit the ground running.

Getting To Know Someone

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1. Getting to Know Someone

A greeting is the first thing you learn in any language class.

That’s because greetings are the foundation of any strong social interaction—if you nail the Arabic greeting, you’ve made a rock-solid start.

In the Arab world as well as in many other places, it’s important to build personal connections. In fact, in the UAE it’s practically required in order for business transactions to go smoothly.

And in this connection-oriented business culture, you can achieve that foundation by making an effort to remember people’s names and their social statuses.

You need to remember the guy you met in the elevator and the name of his cousin who’s looking for a job.

Pulling this off not only impresses others, but it also shows that you are the type of person who remembers more than just the company and the bottom line.

You remember the person holding the pen.

Now, when you greet someone, you’re going to shake their hand. If you were educated in American business norms, for instance, you might go for a firm, even aggressive handshake to show your power and stature.

But that doesn’t fly quite so well in the UAE. There, you’ll want to back off a bit and offer your hand as a sign of respect instead of strength.

Don’t be taken aback if someone offers you a gentle handshake—this is just something that carries a different connotation in the Arab world.

One more thing to note here: men should avoid offering or expecting handshakes from Arab women. It may happen occasionally, but as a you should avoid initiating it.

It’s just seen as a little too forward in the more conservative business culture of the UAE.

Men are expected to respect women’s personal space by not entering it at all, so the proper alternative to a mixed-sex handshake is to place the right hand over the heart along with a slight bow.

Women shouldn’t take it as a snub if their handshake is rejected; it’s coming from a place of respect.

This personal space extends to eye contact. It’s considered poor form to hold eye contact too long, especially with the opposite sex.

Eye contact norms do vary from person to person, so pay attention to each situation individually. Some people might meet your gaze every time and others might demur.

Fortunately, eye contact etiquette isn’t taken particularly seriously; just follow your instincts here to avoid an awkward situation.

Further, when you’re being introduced to others, you’re going to need to know their title.

Titles are taken seriously, whether they come from a royal family or a university.

If someone is a doctor, then call them Doctor, and if someone is a sheikh, call them Sheikh along with their full name.

Again, this is where social status and age play an important role. If you visibly defer to the authority and status of others, it means you’re accepting the cultural role that’s expected of you—and things will go smoothly because of it.

No business introduction is complete without an exchange of business cards. Yours should be high-quality and printed in both English and Arabic.

When you hand it over, always use your right hand (more on that soon) and accept the other card with both hands. Study it carefully and put it away with care.

The business card is an extension of the person giving it, so it should be treated as such.

Once the introductions have been made, what’s the next step?

Meeting

2. Setting Up a Meeting

When it comes to business in the UAE, the old adage is truer than ever: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

That’s why the introductions are so important, and that’s why it’s so crucial that you remember the names and titles of the people you’ve been introduced to.

And keep those business cards!

Family ties run extremely deep. If someone comes from a powerful family, you can be sure they can use those family connections to get what they want.

And if you have the honor of being invited into somebody’s home, it means they’re potentially opening up those family connections to you.

Now, most of these discussions are going to take place over a meal of some kind. Certainly, if you’re invited to any informal gathering there will be snacks on the table whether or not negotiations are too.

You can expect dates, nuts, and strong Arabic coffee at a minimum. Your hosts will continue to refill your cup as soon as it’s empty—but you can politely decline by tilting the cup side to side.

At a restaurant, you should follow the general norms of table manners, at the very least.

That means no crunching your ice, no smacking your lips, and no elbows on the table.

These are by no means universal norms, but in the UAE just as in many other places, it’s polite to be relatively more reserved when you’re dining with company.

But take a closer look around you, and you’ll see that it’s also common to tear your bread instead of slicing, and that the napkin is always placed on the lap.

You’ll notice occasionally that lavish meals are provided for some business discussions. That’s a sign of respect for the invitee and should be enjoyed.

But when you’re ordering on someone else’s bill, it’s polite to order a relatively simple meal instead.

After the food arrives, wait for others to begin eating unless told otherwise.

And no matter how good the shawarma or stuffed camel looks, you absolutely can’t start unless everyone has arrived.

This is a way to reciprocate the generosity of your host by affording them the luxury of choosing when the meal truly begins.

No matter what you’re eating, don’t use your left hand to place food in your mouth or offer it to others. The left hand is traditionally used for cleaning after going to the toilet—and that’s the last thing you want to be reminded of at mealtime.

When you’re having snacks and coffee, you’ll quickly learn to juggle the coffee cup and the dates to stick to this right-hand rule.

As the UAE is a Muslim country, you should avoid ordering alcohol even if you’re aware that some of your guests drink.

Let the locals be the judges of whether or not to provide alcoholic beverages. The “cheers” gesture is still used, though, so be sure to offer a toast (of water, juice, or soda) to others.

If you happen to be hosting a private, informal gathering, you should definitely check with a local about the arrangements. Doing this not only frees you from the burden of planning (always a plus) but also helps you avoid any glaring faux pas.

The guests are sure to be impressed when they realize the work you’ve put in to making them feel comfortable and respected.

So what happens when the meal is winding down and it’s time for further discussion?

Business Etiquette

3. Business Etiquette

If you wake up late-morning in the UAE, you might be dismayed to read that the temperature is already a balmy 34°C (93°F). The last thing you want to do is leave your air-conditioned room in a suit and tie.

But that’s the norm in the Arab world.

The dress code is modest and formal virtually all the time. Men should wear suits and ties, and women should cover their shoulders and legs while keeping jewelry to a minimum.

It’s really not as bad as it sounds. If you shop around, you can find high-quality formal wear that looks good without constricting you.

And after a few months in-country, you’ll get used to the heat and how it dictates the ebb and flow of the day’s activities.

If you’re not of Arab descent, don’t wear the traditional Emirati clothing to a meeting unless specifically invited or directed to do so. Expats should stick to international standards of formal wear.

When you get to the meeting, you’ll notice a couple of differences from what you may be used to. It’s commonplace for locals to arrive a few minutes late, though you should strive to always be on time.

As the meeting goes on, you’ll no doubt experience further small interruptions. It’s seen as normal for people to check their texts or emails while others are talking or presenting. Other people in the office might come in unannounced to deliver a message or ask someone to take a call.

It’s important to take these events not as a sign of disrespect, but simply as representative of a different business culture around time and attention.

They’re not meant to test your patience; it’s just that your culture and theirs have different ideas about meeting etiquette. Be relaxed and open-minded, and don’t let small inconveniences cause you frustration.

Remember, if you’re a guest in someone’s office and they see that you’re uncomfortable with the way they do business, that’s going to start losing you points. If you’re frustrated at little interruptions, try to control your reactions and let it go.

Use this extra time to gather your thoughts or try looking at the day’s main ideas from a different angle.

Once you get down into the heart of the meeting, get ready to negotiate. Emiratis love the art of negotiation.

The ability to successfully negotiate in a meeting is a valued skill that takes years to perfect—and you’re the perfect candidate to test their skill.

These negotiations will always be polite and cordial, but you may find that there’s more back-and-forth than you’re used to. It’s not quite fair to label Emirati business tactics as aggressive; think of them more as principled. And you should be ready to step up to the plate as well.

It’s very likely that your discussions will last across several meetings. Again, it’s important to be patient and respect the time needed to make a decision. You can use this time to think more carefully as well!

When you finally come to an agreement, be careful with your words. Oral agreements are taken very seriously in the UAE, so be ready to back up what you say.

When it comes time to sign the contract, it had better not be different from what you agreed upon or the whole process might begin again.

Lastly, how should you behave yourself in the meeting? Well, here’s a few more body language tips.

If you end up crossing your legs, make sure you don’t point the soles of your feet at anybody else.

This is easy to forget (and easy to forgive as well) but it’s like scratching your nose with your middle finger.

Your counterpart might choose to ignore it, but then again, they might not. So don’t take the risk.

In some places, telling risque jokes is a sign of camaraderie. In the UAE, it’s seen as just plain rude. Avoid all kinds of rude language, even when you’re just chatting or joking around.

Above all, it’s important to stay relaxed with a friendly smile. Don’t fidget or glance around. Be sincere, be in the moment, and, above all, be respectful.

Once you’ve mastered the art of the meeting in the UAE, there’s one more big step you can take…

Learning The Language

4. Learning the Language

Many expats find it easy to live in the UAE as English-speakers.

The enormous expat population means that there’s always a market for local translators. It’s easy, affordable, and usually necessary to get a translator at some point in your career.

However, learning Arabic opens up doors that you didn’t even know were there.

Arabic comes in several main varieties. In general, Gulf Arabic is spoken in the UAE among native Emiratis.

The formal written language—found in laws and business contracts—is a more standardized version known as Modern Standard Arabic.

The differences in grammar and vocabulary are considerable, and it’s necessary to spend a lot of time on both. So what are the advantages?

Understanding the written Arabic language frees you from relying on translators and paints you as someone who is willing to go the extra mile to understand the local business world.

Even if you hire a translator or receive a translated version of a contract, it’s a huge psychological boost to be able to read the original as well.

And although most signs are partly or entirely in English, it’s a great feeling to be able to fully understand what you see on the street.

Using the spoken language is a mark of enormous respect toward the local culture.

Again, it frees you from relying on interpreters if you happen to be dealing with people who prefer to discuss things in Arabic.

No matter how good the connection is, there’s always going to be a barrier if your words have to be relayed through a third party. Most people don’t realize how much escapes them if they rely on others to understand.

If you can only manage a few Arabic words, that already sets you apart from those who live their expat lives in a foreign-language bubble.

And if you can stick to your studies until you achieve fluency, you’re sure to find advantages every single day, in every aspect of life.

5. Conclusion

I hope it’s clear from this short guide how each facet of business culture in the UAE blends together.

Without good knowledge of body language, you can’t read people and see how they’re taking your suggestions. If you don’t remember anybody’s name, you can’t make connections with them over coffee.

If you’re not patient with cultural misunderstandings, you won’t be able to succeed as an expat.

This is because culture is an inseparable part of everything we say and do. Everything we perceive as “normal” is only normal because our culture tells us so.

And if you arrive in the UAE expecting things to be “normal” when you get off the plane, you’re in for a nasty shock.

Instead, prepare yourself for success by being ready to watch others and learn from them—and by being ready to learn from your own mistakes as well.

As a foreigner in a new place, you’ll be given the luxury of understanding and even deference if you happen to make mistakes.

But the fewer mistakes you make, the smoother things will go and the more impressive you’ll be.

So pay attention to this guide and to others like it. Even more importantly, though, pay attention to the things you think of as normal or surprising.

Understanding those innate biases will go a long way toward helping you embrace the local culture at all levels.

And that’s what you need for success.

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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Top 100+ Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions (with English Translations)

Top 100+ Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions (with English Translations)

Imagine yourself spending your holidays in Lebanon. You haven’t gotten the hang of speaking Arabic yet. You’re enjoying your time there, but you still feel strongly disconnected from where you are. Many Lebanese don’t speak English, and you don’t even know how to let people know that you do not speak Arabic.

This is where the importance of learning basic Arabic phrases comes in.

Not only will it help you communicate with the local community; it will also help you gain that connection you would otherwise be yearning for.

I would highly recommend that you start by learning (at least some of) the Arabic alphabet.

While using transcriptions might seem like a really nice way to get a head start, I promise you’re doing yourself more harm than good; you’re just prolonging your time without the alphabet.

Why? Basically, your pronunciation will suffer, which will, in turn, harm your memorization and retention abilities.

Before we move on to the top 100+ basic Arabic phrases list below, here are some tips to help you memorize foreign language expressions easily.

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Easily Memorize Basic Arabic Phrases
  2. Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions for Friendly Conversations
  3. Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions for Traveling and Shopping
  4. Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions for Emergency
  5. Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions for Holidays

1. How to Easily Memorize Basic Arabic Phrases

All of us run into that dreaded point in our language learning journeys where either the phrases we learned start to get all jumbled up in our brains, or we just can’t seem to stuff those bizarre sounding words into our brains.

Are you stuck in this stagnation rut?

Don’t worry. You’re in good company.

Here is a list of the most useful tips for learning those difficult Arabic words and phrases that have evaded your memory… at least until now.

flashcards

a. Flashcards

Now, before you get all in a fuss because you’ve “tried flashcards before” and they didn’t work, just stick with me for a minute. All of us have tried normal flashcards, and most of us have come to the inevitable conclusion that they’re simply not that helpful.

Enter the SRS–spaced repetition system.

What’s spaced repetition exactly? It’s a powerful learning method that will automatically quiz you on those bothersome words you always seem to forget, which is proven to help push those pesky vocab words deeper into your long-term memory.

Sound like magic? It pretty much is.

With ArabicPod101, you get our spaced repetition flashcards. You don’t have to make cards or do work. You have ready-made decks waiting for you such as the top 100 words, and you can easily send words from Vocab Lists and lessons to your flashcards.

How does it work? Just start reviewing the flashcards and mark words as correct or incorrect. This is where the magic happens. If you mark a word as incorrect, you’ll see it again and again until you can properly recall it. Then, you’ll see it in your next study sessions just to make sure you remember. Mark a word correct and you’ll see it sporadically; just enough to keep your memory sharp.

When, you’re done, feel free to stop and relax. Our flashcards will remind you when to study again.

Anki is another popular spaced repetition system. Basically, all you have to do is create your flashcards after downloading the app on your computer or phone and start studying!

For instructions on how to use the application as efficiently as possible, I would head on over to Fluent Forever and read up on how to create some of the most powerful flashcards on the planet.

With Anki, you can make your flashcards as boring or as exciting as you want. (I would personally go for the more exciting ones–they’re way easier to remember!)
You can also either give yourself some hints (for those phrases you have a really hard time remembering), or you can add sound files of native speakers pronouncing those words or phrases!

With Forvo and RhinoSpike, you can add pictures straight from Arabic Google.

Whatever problem you’re running into, the chances are high that it can be solved with Anki and some good flashcards.

Maybe Anki isn’t your style. No problem. I’ve got more tricks up my sleeve.

Memrise is one of those weird mixes of two study methods that just works. It’s not a full-blown SRS like Anki, but it does incorporate similar technology to help you push those words and phrases deeper into your memory, just like Anki does.

So what’s the difference?

Basically, Memrise relies heavily on user-added mnemonics (I’ll talk more about mnemonics shortly). This way, each user can add their own mnemonic to each of the words and phrases they learn, or they can simply choose one of the mnemonics added by a previous user that they feel helps them remember that word.

That’s all well and good, but if you don’t know how to use it, you’re back to square one.

Well, I’m here to save the day once again! (Cue the dramatic hero music playing in the background…)

Just head on over to Memrise, create yourself an account, find some Arabic courses, and start learning those words!

Memrise utilizes mnemonics to help push the problem words deep into your memory by attaching them to something that you have no trouble at all remembering.

For some people, this is the difference between reaching fluency and mumbling like a language amateur.

That’s a nice segue into my second category of memorization tips.

b. Mnemonics

Mnemonics are something that most people have at least heard of, but don’t really know what it means—much less how to use it.

A mnemonic is a device that you use to attach to a concept that makes it easier to remember.

For instance, the French word for eggs is oeufs, which sounds kind of like the sound I make when something disgusts me. So my mnemonic is thinking about a nasty egg and saying “Ughh!!”

Simple enough?

There are tons of mnemonics out there. For a complete list, you can google “mnemonics for language learning.” People have come up with all sorts of crazy ways to memorize vocabulary and most of them are at least somewhat useful!

c. Clozemaster

Clozemaster is a newer website and I think it brings a very valuable learning experience to the table.

It presents a massive number of sentences in different formats to help expose you to large quantities of the language.

Basically, it allows you to start thinking critically about what you’re learning, which will allow you to memorize those phrases faster.

You can choose Arabic on the site and go to the most frequent words category to start learning the most important Arabic words first. This is a website that I recommend to all my students.

If you use these resources, your problems with Arabic are going to either become smaller, completely go away, or at least become a lot more fun!

In all seriousness though, these resources will help you learn basic Arabic phrases easier; just make sure you learn the alphabet and pronunciation before you get started with these.

After that, just chug right along until those words start to stick in your head.

conversation

2. Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions for Friendly Conversations

Below are a few basic phrases and expressions you could find very useful in most conversations:

Good evening
مساء الخير
Masa’o lkhayr

Good morning
صباح الخير
Sabaho lkhayr

Hello
أهلا
Ahlan

How are you?
كيف حالك؟
Kayfa haluk?

Where are you?
أين أنت؟
Ayna ant?

Thanks
شكرا
Shukran

No problem
لا مشكلة
La mushkila

Oh my God!
يا إلهي
Ya ilahi

Wow
يا سلام
Ya salam

No
لا
La

Yes
نعم / أجل
Na’am / Ajal

Excuse me
معذرة
Ma’azira

I’m sorry
أنا آسف
Ana asif

Goodbye
مع السلامة
Ma’a Salama

See you soon
أراك لاحقا
Araka lahikan

Please
من فضلك
Min fazlik

Come
تعال
Ta’al

I’m not interested
أنا لست مهتما
Ana lastu muhtaman

Stop
توقف
Tawaqaf

I can’t
لا أستطيع
La astati’e

How can I …?
كيف يمكنني أن…؟
Kayfa yumkinony ann…?

My name is…
إسمي هو…
Ismi hwa…

What’s your name?
ما إسمك؟
Ma usmuk?

Nice to meet you
سررت بلقائك
Surertu biliqa’ik

I’m fine
أنا بخير
Ana bikhayr

What’s you like to do in your free time?
ماذا تفعله في أوقات فراغك؟
Maza taf’aluhu fi awqati faraghik?

What do you do?
ما هي مهنتك؟
Ma hya mihnatuk?

What’s your dream job?
ما هي الوظيفة التي تحلم بها؟
Ma hya lwadifato lati tahlomo biha?

What time is it?
كم الساعة؟
Kam i ssa’a?

I appreciate this
أقدر هذا
Oqadiro haza

Enjoy the rest of your day
طاب يومك
Taba yawmuk

What do you think?
ما رأيك؟
Ma ra’eyok?

Sounds good
يبدو جيدا
Yabdo jayidan

Never mind
لا يهم
La yohim

I don’t understand
لا أفهم
La afham

Could you repeat that, please?
هل يمكنك إعادة هذا من فضلك؟
Hal yomkinoka i’adato haza min fazlik?

Could you please talk slower?
هل يمكنك التحدث ببطئ؟
Hal yomkinoka tahadusu bobota’e?

What’s your phone number?
ما هو رقم هاتفك؟
Ma hwa raqmu hatifika?

What does that mean?
ماذا يعني هذا؟
Maza ya’ani haza?

Give me one minute
دقيقة من فضلك
Daqiqa min fazlik

Sorry for the delay
عذرا على التأخير
Ozran a’ala ata’ekhir

shopping

3. Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions for Traveling and Shopping

Below are some phrases that could be useful if you’re not native or extremely familiar with the country you’re visiting:

Where are you from?
من أين أنت؟
Min ayna ant?

I’m American
أنا أمريكي
Ana amrikea

I’m Canadian
أنا كندي
Ana canadea

I’m English
أنا إنجليزي
Ana injleezea

I’m Australian
أنا أسترالي
Ana australea

I’m from …
أنا من…
Ana min…

How much is this?
بكم هذا؟
Bikam haza?

I don’t speak Arabic fluently
لا أتحدث العربية بطلاقة
La atahadathu alarabya bitalaqa

Do you speak English?
هل تجيد الإنجليزية؟
Hal tojido alinjlizya?

How do you spell this?
كيف تتهجأ هذا؟
Kayfa tatahaja’o haza?

How long have you been here?
منذ متى وأنت هنا؟
Munzu mata wa anta huna?

Where are you heading?
إلى أين أنت ذاهب؟
Ila ayna anta zahib?

Where can we go hitchhiking?
أين يمكننا توقيف السيارات؟
Ayna yomkinona tawqifo sayarat?

Where is the nearest main road?
أين هي أقرب طريق رئيسية؟
Ayna hya aqrabo tariqin ra’isya?

How much is the ticket?
بكم التذكرة؟
Bikam i tazkira?

Can you present me to your family members?
هل يمكنك أن تقدمني إلى أفراد عائلتك؟
Hal yumkinoka an to’aifany ila afradi a’aliatik?

How far is …?
بكم يبعد…؟
Bikam yaba’odo …?

Can you teach me some Arabic?
هل يمكنك تعليمي بعض العربية؟
Hal yomkinoka ta’alimi ba’ada alarabya?

Can you translate this for me?
هل يمكنك ترجمة هذا لي؟
Hal yumkinoka tarjamato haza li?

What are the best places to visit in …?
ما هي أحسن الأماكن للزيارة في …؟
Ma hya ahsanu alamakini lizyarati fi …?

What time should we check out?
متى يجب أن نغادر الفندق؟
Mata yajibo an noghadira alfondoq?

Let’s have some food. I’m hungry.
فلنأكل بعض الطعام. أنا جائع.
Falnakul ba’ada ta’am. Ana ja’ea

Where is the airport?
أين هو المطار؟
Ayna hwa almatar?

emergency

4. Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions for Emergency

Below are some phrases to use if you are not native and find yourself in an emergency situation:

Help!
!النجدة
Annajda!

I need help
أحتاج إلى المساعدة
Ahtaju ila almusa’ada

Where is the hospital?
أين هو المستشفى؟
Ayna hwa almustashfa?

Do you have a phone?
هل لديك هاتف؟
Hal ladayka hatif?

I have a fever
أعاني من الحمى
O’ani min alhumaa

I’m scared
أنا خائف
Ana kha’if

Can you call the police?
هل يمكنك الإتصال بالشرطة؟
Hal yumkinoka alitissal bishorta?

ِCan you call the fire department?
هل يمكنك الإتصال بمركز الإطفاء؟
Hal yumkinoka alitisalo bimarkazi litfa’e?

Can you help me?
هل يمكنك مساعدتي؟
Hal yumkinoka musa’adati?

How can I help?
كيف يمكنني المساعدة؟
Kayfa yomkinoni almosa’ada?

I’m in danger
أنا في خطر
Ana fi khatar

Let’s get out of here
فلنخرج من هنا
Falnakhruj min huna

holiday

5. Basic Arabic Phrases and Expressions for Holidays

Below are some phrases if you want to wish someone a happy holiday or celebration:

Happy Birthday
عيد ميلاد سعيد
Ida mealadin sa’id

Happy Eid
عيد سعيد
Eid Sa’id

Happy New Year
كل عام وأنتم بخير
Kula a’am wa antum bikhayr

Congratulations
هنيئا / مبروك
Hani’an / Mabruk

Happy wedding
حفل زفاف سعيد
Hafla zifafin sa’id

Birthday cake
كعكة عيد ميلاد
Ka’akato idi milad

Fireworks
الألعاب النارية
Alal’ab anarya

Where are you spending the holidays?
أين ستقضي عطلتك؟
Ayna sataqdy otlatak?

Want to dig deeper into Arabic? ArabicPod101 is the go-to resource for free interactive audio and video lessons. There you’ll have access to a cornucopia of real-life language and culture content to take your Arabic to the level.

Plus, you’ll get assistance from experienced teachers to answer your questions and boost your motivation to learn Arabic.

Why settle for boring Arabic textbooks when you can listen to 1060+ quality lessons on-the-go or even in your sleep?

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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.

How to Start Thinking in Arabic

Learn 4 tools and techniques to stop translating in your head and start thinking in Arabic

Going through Arabic lessons is enough to get by and learn the basics of Arabic, but to truly become fluent you need to be able to think in Arabic. This will allow you to have conversations with ease, read smoothly, and comprehensively understand natives. To do this, you need to go beyond just completing daily or weekly lessons.

We naturally translate in our heads because it’s viewed as the easiest way to learn the definitions needed when learning a language. This way of learning can actually hinder your skills and fluency later on. If your brain has to make neural connections between the word you’re learning, what it means in your native tongue, and the physical object the connection will not be nearly as strong. When you bypass the original translation between Arabic and your native language then there is a more basic and strong connection between just the Arabic vocabulary word and the tangible object.

start thinking in Arabic

In this blog post, you will learn the 4 important techniques to easily and naturally begin to speculate about the daily occurrences in your life. The best part is all of these techniques are supported and can be achieved through ArabicPod101.com.

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1. Surround yourself with Arabic

Surround Yourself

By surrounding yourself with Arabic constantly you will completely immerse yourself in the language. Without realizing it you’ll be learning pronunciation, sentence structures, grammar, and new vocabulary. You can play music in the background while you’re cooking or have a Arabic radio station on while you study. Immersion is a key factor with this learning process because it is one of the easiest things to do, but very effective. Even if you are not giving the program your full attention you will be learning.

One great feature of ArabicPod101.com is the endless podcasts that are available to you. You can even download and listen to them on the go. These podcasts are interesting and are perfect for the intention of immersion, they are easy to listen to as background noise and are interesting enough to give your full attention. Many of them contain stories that you follow as you go through the lessons which push you to keep going.

2. Learn through observation
learn through observation

Learning through observation is the most natural way to learn. Observation is how we all learned our native languages as infants and it’s a wonder why we stop learning this way. If you have patience and learn through observation then Arabic words will have their own meanings rather than meanings in reference to your native language. Ideally, you should skip the bilingual dictionary and just buy a dictionary in Arabic.

ArabicPod101.com also offers the materials to learn this way. We have numerous video lessons which present situational usage of each word or phrase instead of just a direct translation. This holds true for many of our videos and how we teach Arabic.

3. Speak out loud to yourself
talk to yourself

Speaking to yourself in Arabic not only gets you in the mindset of Arabic, but also makes you listen to how you speak. It forces you to correct any errors with pronunciation and makes it easy to spot grammar mistakes. When you speak out loud talk about what you did that day and what you plan to do the next day. Your goal is to be the most comfortable speaking out loud and to easily create sentences. Once you feel comfortable talking to yourself start consciously thinking in your head about your daily activities and what is going on around you throughout the day.

With ArabicPod101.com you start speaking right away, not only this, but they have you repeat words and conversations after a native Arabic speaker. This makes your pronunciation very accurate! With this help, you are on the fast path to making clear and complex sentences and then actively thinking about your day.

4. Practice daily

If you don’t practice daily then your progress will be greatly slowed. Many people are tempted to take the 20-30 minutes they should be practicing a day and practice 120 in one day and skip the other days. This isn’t nearly as effective because everyday you practice you are reinforcing the skills and knowledge you have learned. If you practice all in one day you don’t retain the information because the brain can realistically only focus for 30 minutes at most. If you’re studying for 120 minutes on the same subject little of the information will be absorbed. Studying everyday allows you to review material that you went over previous days and absorb a small amount of information at a time.

It’s tough to find motivation to study everyday, but ArabicPod101.com can help. It’s easy to stay motivated with ArabicPod101.com because we give you a set learning path, with this path we show how much progress you’ve made. This makes you stick to your goals and keep going!

Conclusion

Following the steps and having patience is the hardest part to achieving your goals, it’s not easy learning a new language. You are essentially teaching your brain to categorize the world in a completely new way. Stick with it and you can do it just remember the 4 tools I taught you today! With them, conversations, reading, and understanding will become much easier. The most important thing to remember is to use the tools that ArabicPod101.com provides and you will be on your way to being fluent!

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The 5 Review Tactics that Will Sharpen Your Arabic

top 5 review tactics to boost your arabic

Have you ever returned to ArabicPod101 lessons you’ve completed?

Accessing a lesson once is enough to learn more Arabic. But to master what you’ve learned, to understand Arabic the second you hear it, to read with just a quick glance, and to speak smoothly, without thinking… you need to review.

In this blog post, you’ll learn the 5 review tactics and learning tools that will truly sharpen your Arabic (all of which I’ve been able to resources for on ArabicPod101.com).

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1. Listen to lines over and over again!

One of the best ways to learn Arabic (or any language) is to listen to native speakers over and over again until you understand what they are saying. By listening closely and often, you start to pick up the rhythm of a language and pronunciation from a native speaker. It’s not surprising, then, that Innovative Language offers a great line-by-line feature that lets you listen (and read along!) as many times as you’d like. I really recommend taking advantage of this feature— aside from moving to Egypt or another Arabic speaking country, it is the best way to immerse yourself in the language.

2. Use a voice-recording tool to perfect pronunciation.

No one likes to hear themselves recorded, but it is a great way to perfect your pronunciation! Record yourself and compare against a fluent speaker. If you sound different, repeat after the fluent speaker until your pronunciation matches. Innovative Language has a great voice-recording feature that makes recording super easy. Never hesitate or be shy about your pronunciation again.

review tactics

3. Master recorded conversations.

Another excellent way to review your Arabic is to record conversations and go over them again and again until you have the entire conversation mastered and can repeat it line by line. Now, it might be kind of awkward trying to explain to someone why you are recording them speak so it is fortunate that Innovative Language has dialogues available for download right off of their website. I found these also come with transcripts of the entire conversation, which is great if you don’t want to spend tons of time translating the conversation yourself.

4. Use mobile devices to reinforce previously learned conversations.

It might sound redundant at this point, but constant review is the best, and only, way to perfect Arabic. In that spirit, I strongly recommend downloading the recorded dialogue to your mobile device and incorporating it into your music playlist. You’ll be amazed how effectively quick reviews throughout a day can reinforce what you’ve learned.

review tactics

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5. Read with line by line notes.

The guaranteed accurate transcript of the recorded dialogues is one of the most useful features Innovative Language offers. You can read along with a fluent speaker to really master pronunciation and natural conversation. You should start slow at first, then slowly increase the speed with each pass through. Every time you read through, your pronunciation will become more intuitive and your ability to understand fluent speakers will greatly increase.

Imagine a child who just learned how to read. At first, they slowly struggle through a sentence, but on the second try, they know what the most of the words sound like and so they read a bit faster and easier and on the third try, they read that sentence at normal, native speed.

review tactics

Improve Now your Reading Skills by Learning More Vocabulary

Using these five simple review techniques the most challenging parts of learning Arabic will become your areas of comfort. Conversations will no longer be excruciating and embarrassing, but rather offer a chance to show off your new skills and communicate with someone from a different culture in their natural language. You will be able to casually listen to Arabic and understand everything. Reading, too, will become natural and enjoyable.

Learning any language takes time and dedication. With the right focus, however, you can ensure the maximum impact of your efforts. Consistently listening to fluent speakers, recording your own voice and comparing it against fluent speakers, mastering conversations, listening to them on go, and following along with written transcripts will put you on the path to becoming fluent in Arabic. Learn from the mistakes that so many have made, myself included, don’t let what you’ve already learned slip away.

Review, review, review!

How to Overcome the Top 4 Arabic Learning Fears

Every Arabic learner will have these fears“I’m not good enough yet.” “I don’t think I’m making any progress.” “What if I never reach my goals?” Arabic learning fears – we all get them from time to time. What are yours? And are they worth being scared of?

how to overcome learning fears

In this blog post, we’re killing the top 4 Arabic learning fears – 1) what are the fears learners tend to have the most and 2) how you can overcome them!

Here are the top 4 language learning fears according to our users:

1. “I’m not good enough to start speaking yet.”

Do you feel like you’re not good enough to start speaking yet? It’s a pretty common fear or misconception that most learners have. Here’s how you overcome it:

  • The best way to get good at speaking is to start speaking from day 1.
    So if you’re holding yourself back, because you think you’re not good enough, well, that’s exactly why you’re not good enough. You need to open your mouth and start talking!
  • If you think you’re not good enough, just learn Arabic lines you want to say!
    In our lessons, you get the exact phrases and scripts for introducing yourself making small talk, ordering food, expressing opinions, and much more! So if you think you’re not good enough, the lessons will give you the exact lines to say.
  • learn arabic

    Want to speak Arabic with confidence? With Learning Paths, get your personalized courses based on your goals and interests. Check it now!

    2. “I’m afraid I’ll never be fluent.”

    Many successful Arabic learners worried about that, only as a beginner. They started learning Arabic and, it’s funny because the better their Arabic got, the less they were worried about that. So, how can you overcome this?

  • You’ve got to set small, specific goals.
    Fluency is a big vague goal. Arguably, we don’t even speak fluent in our native language. There are over a million words and we use about 2,000 words only. So you should focus on smaller goals like being able to introduce yourself or having a 5-minute conversation. Or 10 minutes. Something you can measure so you know you reached it because you can’t really measure fluency. It’s a pretty vague goal! But you can measure small goals like having a 5-minute conversation. And as these small goals add up, you’ll be speaking very comfortably!
  • learn arabic

    Discover now 10 Monthly Goals that will help you on your way to Arabic fluency!

    3. “I’m afraid that I’m not making any progress.”

    In other words, getting stuck. If you’re afraid you’re not making progress, there are two things you can do right now.

  • Use the dashboard to track your progress.
    If you need numbers to believe it, our dashboard tracks all the lessons you’ve completed and shows how much you’ve accomplished.
  • Try a harder lesson on the site.
    It sounds crazy and you might not understand it but you will in minutes. Our lessons come with line-by-line translations and the lesson hosts explain everything. THEN, you’ll be making progress because you now understand something you didn’t minutes ago.
  • learn arabic

    From Beginner to Advanced, get the lesson that is perfect for you! Start learning Arabic now!

    4. “I’m afraid of not understanding anything I hear”.

    This is very common. You hear advanced grammar and vocabulary and it goes completely over your head. To beat this…

  • If you’re taking an advanced lesson, simply read along.
    Reading along with our line-by-line tool is the best way to instantly understand advanced conversations. The translations and scripts are right in front of you.
  • For real-life situations, learn useful phrases.
    Like “Can you say it more slowly?,” “Can you use simpler words?” or “I don’t understand what that meant.” There’s nothing wrong with saying that you didn’t understand something or with asking for help. And our Survival Phrases lessons cover must-know phrases like this.
  • learn arabic

    So, these are the top 4 fears and how to overcome them. And if you want to have the perfect tools to overcome them, don’t forget to create your Free Lifetime Account at ArabicPod101.com!

    3 Reasons Why Playing Games Helps You Learn Arabic Faster

    Discover 3 ways that Arabic learning games and video games can help you learn and master Arabic faster, retain more, and enhance your language skills.

    reasons why playing games helps you learn faster

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    Can You Learn Arabic Using Games?

    Yes, Arabic learning games and even video games can help you learn and master Arabic faster and improve overall comprehension. Research studies have concluded that video games enhance traditional learning methods and make mastering a new language like Arabic fun and exciting. Without the firm foundation in grammar and vocabulary provided by conventional learning programs, however, you will not be able to learn Arabic with games alone. But when you combine the solid educational foundation like you’ll get at ArabicPod101 with the benefits of Arabic learning games, you learn faster and retain more than with traditional learning alone.

    Let’s now take a look at three of the biggest benefits of using video games to learn Arabic:

    Video Games Help Improve Linguistic Skills and Cognitive Development

    When combined with a solid foundation in vocabulary and grammar, video games help students improve reading, comprehension, and even speaking skills. The results are even more pronounced in struggling students. According to a recent national survey, more than 78% of teachers noted that learning games, even video games, were effective in helping struggling students compensate for learning gaps in their traditional studies.

    So how do Arabic learning games, or even video games, help students improve their linguistic skills and cognitive development? The key is practice, practice, and more practice!
    Learning games and video games naturally require the integration of several linguistic skills including reading, listening, speaking, and even writing in some games. And by removing the fear of making mistakes so common in students in traditional classroom settings, students are free to practice the language and further develop their linguistic and cognitive abilities in the process.

    Do a compliment in Arabic? Break-Up Lines? Our Vocabulary Lists are Made for You!

    Learning Games/Video Games Provide In-Context Learning

    Students naturally learn faster and comprehend more when they are forced to use the information often and in real-world situations, even the fake ones created by Arabic learning games and video games. Essentially, this is immersion-based learning or contextual learning very similar to what one experiences when living abroad and being forced to interact with people in another language. So by providing both context and constant feedback, video games allow students to actually use the knowledge they gain in classrooms or conventional study to learn and master Arabic or any new language faster.

    Arabic Learning Games Make Studying Fun and Alleviate Stress

    Homework, quizzes, tests, and even in-class assignments can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety in students, particularly those who may be struggling to keep up. This stress and anxiety can actually derail a student’s progress and cause them to feel isolated from their more successful peers. But video games and even most learning games are the great equalizer because they help alleviate stress, increase social engagement, and yes, even help students have fun while learning Arabic or any new language.
    In fact, research recently published in The Washington Post shows a wide range of health benefits from video games and learning games including the fact that they:

  • Help Reduce or Alleviate Symptoms of Depression
  • Help Reduce or Alleviate Symptoms of Insomnia
  • Help Alleviate Transitory Stress Symptoms
  • Scientists have indeed discovered that not only can you learn Arabic or any new language faster thanks to video games, they can also provide a wide range of potential health benefits as well. However, learning languages through video games alone is not really a feasible alternative to progressive, structured learning like you find in classrooms or programs like ArabicPod101.

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    The Limitations of Learning Languages Through Video Games

    While great supplemental learning tools, video games and even more formal learning games are simply no substitute for structured learning programs for two reasons:

  • Learning Games Not Designed to Provide a Foundation in Grammar or Vocabulary: Without the foundation provided by structured Arabic learning (classroom or online), video games or even language learning games only teach specific phrases and concepts. Now within the context of the video game, these phrases and concepts make sense but most would have little practical value in the real world.
  • Lessons Are Not Structured or Progressive in Nature: Structured learning requires students to be provided with basic building blocks of knowledge (like grammar or vocab lessons) that are then expanded upon in a progressive fashion until mastery. Video games and even many language learning games really only quiz and reinforce what students already know instead of providing structured lessons that can be built upon for future learning.
  • Arabic learning games and even video games are great supplemental tools to help students learn and master a language faster. Scientific studies and recent research reveal that video games can help contextualize formal lessons from structured learning, enhance linguistic skills, alleviate stress, and even provide a wide range of potential health benefits. However, learning languages through video games (even learning games) has limitations and is no substitute for structured lessons that provide a firm foundation in vocabulary and grammar.

    ArabicPod101 is the world’s most advanced online learning system with tons of HD video lessons created by real Arabic instructors. With more than 500 million lesson downloads and 10,000’s of success stories, ArabicPod101 can provide you with a world-class foundation in vocabulary and grammar.

    Combined with Arabic learning games, our cutting edge online language system can propel you to mastering the language faster, more easily, and at far less expense than traditional classroom instruction.

    3 Reasons Why Successful Students Learn Arabic In the Car

    Not only is it possible to learn Arabic in your car, there are 3 great benefits that will help you master the language faster and with less effort.

    With everyone so pressed for time these days, it might seem like a daydream to believe that you could learn Arabic in your car—but it’s not! Thanks to a wide range of new technologies and resources, learning a language in your car is easier than ever. Not only is it easy to learn a language while driving, there are actually a number of benefits, especially if the lessons are part of a structured learning program like ArabicPod101. Here are three specific benefits to learning Arabic or any other new language in your car.

    3 reasons why successful students learn arabic in the car

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    1. Transform Downtime into Progress

    How much time do you spend commuting to and from work? Learning a language in your car transforms your commute time into tangible progress towards your dream. So instead of being stressed over how much time you are “wasting” on errands and daily commutes, you can decompress and have some fun while you learn Arabic in your car!

    2. Daily Exposure Leads to Passive Learning

    Practice makes perfect and learning a new language is no different. The daily exposure you get when you learn Arabic while driving helps improve listening comprehension, pronunciation, and of course helps build vocabulary and improve grammar. Don’t worry: You don’t need to memorize everything as you listen in Arabic while driving. Just having continuous exposure to a foreign language helps you improve your vocabulary, learn faster, and ultimately retain more through passive learning.


    3. Learning While Driving is Fun

    Learning a new language does require a serious commitment, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! When you learn Arabic in your car, you get to take some time away from the PC or smartphone and immerse yourself in the language instead of just “studying” it.

    Plus, there are a number of “fun” activities that you can do and still learn in your car, such as:
    – Singing Along with Arabic Songs
    – Playing Word Games or Trivia
    – Just Listening Along and Seeing How Much You Can Pick Up and Understand

    Want to Learn How to Get Angry in Arabic? Pick-Up Lines? Our Vocabulary Lists are Made for You!

    Yes, you can learn a language while driving and have loads of fun doing it. Now let’s take a look at some specific things you can listen to while driving to help you learn a new language.

    BONUS: 3 Ways to Learn Arabic in Your Car

    Listen to Podcasts: Typically designed to focus on one topic or lesson, podcasts are a great way to learn a language while driving. Unfortunately, podcasts are rarely at the same listening/comprehension level as the language learner so listeners may not get their full value. But at ArabicPod101, our podcasts are created for every skill level so you don’t waste any time on material that isn’t relevant or suited to your exact needs.

    Sing Along to Arabic Songs: Remember, just immersing yourself in a language can create passive learning and improve your pronunciation. Plus, with ArabicPod101, you can sing along and memorize the lyrics, and then look the words up and add them to your personal dictionary.

    Playing Word Games or Trivia: There are audio games available online that you can download to any media device and listen to on your commute. Although we recommend this option for more advanced users, games are a fun and productive way to learn Arabic in your car because they require listening and comprehension skills.

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    You won’t recognize or understand every word you hear in a Arabic song, podcast, or game—but that’s ok. The daily repetition and immersion in the language leads to passive learning that gradually increases your knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. And the greater your foundation in grammar and vocabulary, the more you’ll understand and learn from the audio lessons, podcasts, or whatever you listen to while learning Arabic in your car.

    Yes, you can learn Arabic while driving because it leads to passive learning via daily immersion in the language. Although you may not understand all or even most of what you hear at first, the exposure helps improve pronunciation, vocabulary, and even grammar over time. Learning a language while driving also helps transform your commute into exciting “exotic adventures” that secretly teach you Arabic in the process. Podcasts, songs, and even games can all help you learn Arabic in your car while eliminating the “boring commute” in the process!

    At ArabicPod101, we have more than 2500+ HD audio lessons and podcasts for every skill level that you can download and use to learn Arabic while driving!
    So don’t forget to sign up for a Free Lifetime Account on ArabicPod101.com to access tons of FREE lessons and features to become fluent in Arabic!