Posted by: englishdubai | September 11, 2006

A Bluffer’s Guide to Arabic


In the office in Dubai unsurprisingly there are a large number of Arabic speakers – they were all keen that I picked up a few “essential” words and phrases that I should know. This was great as I like to know at least the hello, goodbye, thank you and please in any country I am in. I did spend a year learning Arabic when I was small but that was long forgotten. So in essence here is the little cheat sheet that my colleagues agreed would get me going:

Shoukran – thank you

As-Salāmu `Alaykum – peace be upon you – quite a formal greeting but very common in Dubai

wa `Alaykum As-Salām – and on you be peace – the response

Shou? – What?

Yalla – hurry up/come on

Khalas – finished!

Habibi – my darling – but used when you might want something from someone

ya’nni – a filler word – “that means” – I originally wondered if this was the name of someone! I was hearing things like “ya’nni…my cousin”

You can also combine these to:

Yalla Habibi – hurry my love!

Shoo Habibi – what’s up darling? (which I saw used to a crying baby – very cute)

This is never going to get me an A-Level in Arabic but people certainly appreciate the effort – even though it is small- and has me helped immeasurably in my day to to day life in Dubai.

I think I need to compile a similar list for Tagalog…


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