21 Arabic phrases you need to know

Most expats don’t need to learn Arabic to live in the Gulf, but it’s polite (and fun!) to learn at least a few phrases. My Arabic is extremely limited, but while locals get a good laugh out of my attempts to speak their language with an Irish accent, most appreciate the effort.

Here are some of the most common phrases you’ll hear and what they mean.

Salaam alykum: The literal translation is ‘peace be upon you’, but this is primarily used as a greeting.
Alykum a-salaam: Used in reply to the above
Maa salaama: Goodbye

Ahlan wah sahlan: This is a less formal way of saying hi to friends

Marhaba: Welcome
Marhabtain: In reply

Kayf halik: How are you?
Tamaam: Fine

Sho ismek?: What’s your name?
Ismii: My name is…

Inta min wayn?: Where are you from?
Ana min…: I’m from…

Aywa/Sah: Yes
La:
No
Na’am:
Yes (As in, in reply to someone calling your name)

Ams: Yesterday
Alioum:
Today
Bukhara:
Tomorrow

Wallah: I swear/Really! (Depends on context)

Khallas: Stop/ Don’t/ I’m finished (Depends on context)

Inshallah: God willing/ Maybe/ Not a chance (Depends on context)

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Comment (4)

  • Dark Hunter| August 24, 2015

    All time favorite – everyone must know this!

    • Only in Doha| August 24, 2015

      Hahahahahahahahahahah. Brilliant. Best comment ever. I actually knew that one too, I got me some foul-mouthed Arabic teachers 🙂

  • Daniel| August 28, 2015

    Czekam na kontynuacje

  • The Ultimate Guide to a Weekend in Morocco - Katie Harrington| July 10, 2017

    […] READ: 21 Arabic phrases you need to know […]

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