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What Language is Spoken in UAE


Page update - Sep 13, 2022

What language is spoken in the United Arab Emirates? What language is comfortable for vacation? What dictionary or phrasebook to take? Read the answers in this review.

UAE Official Language

The official language of the UAE is MSA (Modern Standard Arabic), a commonly used modern version of the Arabic language. All official documents are written in MSA, the government office work is done only in MSA, most of the media works in MSA.

All court sessions are held only in MSA. And before, the authorities were not obliged to provide parties with interpreters. Foreigners, unless they hired an interpreter, were just spectators in the courts. Fortunately, on November 8, 2020, amendments to the laws went into effect, and now the defendant has the right for interpreter at the state's expense.

However, the natives of the UAE themselves do not speak MSA at home, but their own dialect. And this is the situation in most Arab countries.

Gulf Arabic

Gulf Arabic is one of the three most widely spoken dialects of Arabic in the world, along with Egyptian Arabic and Lebanese Arabic. It is spoken in the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The Arabic dialect Al Shehkha (also known as the Omani dialect) is less popular and is spoken in the eastern regions of the country, neighbor to Oman, i.e. Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.

Native Arabs in the UAE do not speak MSA from early childhood. They first learn to speak their dialect and then they learn MSA, usually at school or while watching TV. In high school they learn English.

The difference between dialects

It is not so large. Now all the dialects of Arabic are mutually understandable. That is, a resident of the UAE will understand a Tunisian or an Egyptian, but some words will be unclear. It takes some experience to adapt to the features of the grammar and to learn new words.

Two such native Arabic speakers will generally understand each other, but will have to explain to each other the meanings of new words and clarify details.

Accordingly, if you already know some Arabic words and expressions in other countries, be mentally prepared that the Arabs in the UAE will not understand them.



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English is the lingua franca in the UAE

Among the UAE's 10 million people, only a little more than 1 million are native Arabs (citizens). The rest are expats, guest workers from various countries on work visas. We talked about this in detail in the review "Population of the UAE".

Naturally, all these people need some kind of joint language. The language that play this role is commonly referred to as "lingua franca". Until 1971 the United Arab Emirates was a British protectorate and English has been in wide use ever since.

If one wants to work in the UAE, knowledge of Arabic is not required, but knowledge of English is. Road signs and signboards, cafe and restaurant menus and Internet sites are always duplicated in English. An example is pictured nearby, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

If you know English you won't get lost in the UAE! English is used there much more often than Arabic.

What to do if you don't know English? (we consider in this case you read this page with auto translate)

There is no need to be afraid, because many things are clear even without knowledge of languages. You can choose dishes from the menu by pictures, most stores are automated and you do not have to explain yourself to the salesmen. You can haggle and change currency using the numbers on your calculator or smartphone. For example, in the picture below everything is clear without knowledge of languages. You can make an order just by pointing a finger at an interesting offer.

Many services are available in other languages. You can order a transfer with your language speaking driver, hire your language speaking babysitter for your child, tours in other languages are available. You can find all such services on the Internet.

If you still have to communicate, then use a translator on your smartphone. The good thing is that they are now available in large quantities and free of charge. You just install the application on your smartphone, and it will not only translate the phrase, but also voice it in a pleasant female voice. Many of the applications require Internet access, and this is also no problem in the UAE. Read our page "Internet in the UAE".

Interaction with the authorities

Going on vacation in the Arab Emirates is possible in such a way that the Arabic language is not required. Of course, this is true if nothing extraordinary happened during the vacation.

It is even possible to make a verbal appeal to a police officer in English. However, once it comes to bureaucracy, only the MSA is used. It is only possible to write an application in Arabic. There are interpreters at police stations who will write the statement from the applicant's words, but it is still uncomfortable to sign a document in which you have no idea what is actually written.

In case of trouble with the police, we strongly advise tourists not to say anything at all and not to sign anything without the presence of a lawyer and an interpreter. A lawyer and an interpreter are either provided free of charge, or you can use the services of your embassy or consulate.

Or it is better not to get into trouble at all. Read our page "What is not allowed in the UAE".



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Other languages in the UAE

Farsi, also called Persian language. It is spoken by people from Iran, of which there are about 500,000 in the United Arab Emirates.

Hindi, also called Indian. There are about 3,000,000 Indians in the United Arab Emirates. However, not all people from India speak Hindi. India is a huge country and there are dozens of languages in India.

Malay. It is spoken by people from Malaysia and Indonesia. There are about 1,000,000 of them.

Bengali. It is spoken by people from Bangladesh and East India. There are about 350,000 of them in the UAE.

Tagalog. It is spoken by people from the Philippines, about 300,000 people.

Telugu. It is spoken in some areas of India, about 450,000 people speak this language in the UAE.

Also useful and interesting to know

- Arabs have their own digits. On dirham coins the denomination is written only in Indo-Arabic digits. However, to learn these sticks, dots and circles is not difficult, instructions in our review "What is the money in the UAE";

- What else to take on vacation, except a smartphone with an interpreter, read our review "What to take on vacation in the UAE".

Have a great vacation in the UAE and read our interesting pages about this country (see list of pages below).

TIPS

Tips for Tourists in the UAE

IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach

GENERAL INFORMATION

The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE

GIFTS AND CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from the UAE

What You Can and Not Bring In the UAE

What You Can and Not Take Out the UAE

VAT Refund in the UAE

Shopping in the UAE - Why is Cheap

Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud

MONEY AND EXPENSES

Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

Currency Exchange in the UAE

How Much Money to Take to the UAE

Food Prices in the UAE

Tourist Taxes in the UAE

Alcohol in the UAE

Cigarettes and Smoking in the UAE

Vape and iQos in the UAE

TRANSPORT

Dubai Metro - Fares and Map

Taxi in the UAE - Fares and Guide

NOL Transport Card Dubai

Dubai Tram

Dubai Monorail

Buses in the UAE

FROM AIRPORT TO CITY

From Dubai Airport (DXB) to City

From Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) to City

From Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) to City

From Sharjah Airport (SHJ) to City

TRIPS BETWEEN EMIRATES

From Dubai to Abu-Dhabi

Free Buses Dubai - Abu-Dhabi

From Sharjah to Dubai

From Ras Al-Khaimah to Dubai

From Ajman to Dubai

From Fujairah to Dubai

From Umm Al-Quwain to Dubai

TELECOM

Internet in the UAE

Cheap Calls from the UAE

Free SIM-card in Dubai

UAE Phone Codes

EMIRATES

Dubai

Deira

Bur Dubai

Dubai Marina

Jumeirah

Downtown

TOP Attractions in Dubai

Beaches in Dubai

Abu Dhabi

Al Ain

Yas Island

Beaches in Abu Dhabi

Sharjah

Beaches in Sharjah

Ajman

Ras Al Khaimah

Umm Al Quwain

Fujairah

ATTRACTIONS IN THE UAE

Best Attractions in the UAE

Free Attractions in the UAE

DUBAI

Burj Khalifa

Dubai Fountain

Excursions in Dubai

How to Save on Entertainment in Dubai

DUBAI MALL

The Best in Dubai Mall

Dubai Aquarium

Candylicious in Dubai Mall

Waterfall in Dubai Mall

DUBAI DEIRA

Gold Market in Dubai

Al Mamzar Beach and Park

Deira Clock Tower

City Centre Deira Mall

JUMEIRAH DISTRICT

Burj Al Arab

Wild Wadi Water Park

Jumeirah Mosque

Dubai Marina Mall

Madinat Jumeirah

Jumeirah Beach

PALM JUMEIRAH

Aquaventure

The Lost Chambers

Dolphin Bay

Palm Fountains

The View at the Palm

DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS

LEGOLAND

MOTIONGATE

LEGOLAND Water Park

BLUEWATERS ISLAND

Ain Dubai

Madame Tussauds

BUR DUBAI

The Dubai Frame

Dubai Dolphinarium

Al Fahidi Fort Museum

Museum of the Future

DUBAI - SOUTH-EAST

Global Village

Miracle Garden

Butterfly Garden

IMG Worlds of Adventure

MALL OF THE EMIRATES

Mall of the Emirates

Ski Dubai

ABU DHABI CITY

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace

Observation Deck at 300

Sheikh Zayed Memorial

Heritage Village

Corniche Waterfront

Sir Bani Yas

YAS ISLAND

Ferrari World

Formula Rossa

Galleria Ferrari

Warner Bros Park

Yas WaterWorld

Yas Marina & Formula 1

Yas Mall

SHARJAH

Sharjah Fountains

Sharjah Aquarium

Museum of Islamic Civilization

Al Noor Mosque

Mega Mall

AJMAN

Ajman Fish Market

Ajman Fort and Museum

City Centre Ajman Mall

UMM AL QUWAIN

DreamLand Water Park

NATIONAL CUISINE

Emirati Cuisine - What to Taste

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