Every expatriate in the Middle Eastern countries, of course who do not understand Arabic, may have faced a situation at least once where there were communication problem with the locals during their stay in the Middle East.
You never know when you’ll find yourself in a situation where you need some Arabic.
So it is always better that expatriates should learn at least some phrases that may be handy at times.
There are as many Arabic dialects as countries where Arabic is spoken.
Levantine Arabic, spoken in Lebanon and Syria, tends to be quite sing-song, Egyptian Arabic is a bit slang-driven, and Gulf Arabic is much more guttural.
Some of the most often used words are yalla, meaning 'Let’s go!'; khalas (pronounced halas), meaning 'done'; and Insha’Allah, translating as 'If Allah wills it', which is a valid answer to anything from 'Could you come over for dinner?' to 'Could you fix my toilet this week?'
The same is true for the term mafi mushkila, which means 'no problem'. If you hear this, you are safe to assume there is a BIG problem.
Some other Arabic terms you may notice thrown into everyday English are habibi (when addressing a man) and habibti (when addressing a woman): men use this with each other all the time!
English-speaking Arabs may also pepper their language with yanni, meaning 'you know'.
We have compiled a list of Arabic phrases that can help you in need of time.
Click next to read the commonly used Arabic phrases in the gulf
(In this photo, First Lieutenant Essa Ahmed helps a man, who stopped to ask for directions. Image credit: The National)