Arabic is the official and national language spoken in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); however, a number of other languages are spoken within the UAE, such as English, Urdu, Malayalam and Hindi, to name a few. UAE has many nationalities, which offers a particularly diverse spectrum of languages.
Expats can get by with just speaking English in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the emirates biggest tourist areas and business hubs. Arabic and English are the main business languages.
Arabic speaking countries have different dialects, which might make it difficult for foreigners to understand everybody they encounter. A foreigner in Dubai should focus on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), as it is spoken by the majority of people. It is the better choice.
Although Arabic varies from country to country, the language spoken at international meetings and conferences, media and mosques is MSA. Even street signs and shop signs are written in Modern Standard Arabic. Even rules and laws are published in MSA.
However, there is true dialectal variation in Standard Arabic that is spoken among the Emirati people, which is the language of literature and education in most Arabic countries. Arabic speakers themselves do not use MSA, so it is best try to learn also the local dialect, when staying in the UAE or in other Arabic countries.
Though many Arabic words may be written the same, “the differences in vowel pronunciation, and use of particular consonants makes them almost seem like different words, “explains Benny Lewis in his language tips for expats and business travelers on the “Fluent in 3 Months” website.
Whether one is in the United Arab Emirates as an expat or fostering deeper business relations, it may be practical to learn Arabic right away. It is possible for people to learn while in the country or before online at myEasyArabic.com site where there is also the Learn Arabic Easy e-book; the first nine lessons are free. There are clickable audio files to hear and learn the correct pronunciation, as well as become familiar with vocabulary and style. Even a few phrases can help make a difference. Besides, knowledge of Arabic gives foreigners the opportunity to get closer to the locals.
There are many language schools in Dubai. The Arabic Language Centre (ALC), for one, aims to teach Arabic as a foreign language to adults. A self-study course on the Internet or books and CDs are also good options. GulfArabic.com has been mentioned as a comprehensive e-learning system for those looking for a place to start studying. The same is said about the Arab Academy’s online (arabacademy.com) Arabic lessons that provide students with a truly comprehensive experience. There are online courses that cater to students of all age groups, language levels, and areas of interest.
For people choosing to make Dubai, for example, their home or have become residents already, the Arabic language gives them the ability to travel within the country.
Other reasons why Arabic should be learned: Arabic, being the fifth most widely spoken language in the world, is spoken by several millions of people in the world. It is an official language of 22 states.
Moreover, Arabic is increasingly important for business people and travelers. Therefore, learning Arabic gives the learner the ability to communicate and understand a culture, background and traditions of the UAE.
Furthermore, with the growing importance of the Emirates, those that have any knowledge of Arabic at all are likely to get ahead in a thriving economy that is opening up numerous potential for new business opportunities. Consequently, learning Arabic (by taking a few Arabic courses in college or follow online course lessons) is beneficial for those who hope to negotiate and conduct trade with locals.