Languages in Dubai - Which Languages are Spoken in Dubai?

Being one of the leading tourist destinations, Dubai is a multi-linguistic country. With Arabic being the popular choice among natives, expats converse mainly in  English, Hindi, Urdu and even Filipino. Due to its mission of being the world’s most exquisite tourist destination, it attracts many labourers from Asian nations which further adds to the diversity of the spoken languages in Dubai.

Official Language of Dubai 

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Taking into account the pride of Emiratis on their culture and to preserve the originality, the Sultanate declared Arabic, the authoritative language of Dubai. Though many different vernaculars are used throughout the nation. WIth 3 quarters of all people living here as expats, English is the favourite choice among its population. Immigrants and labourers from South Asian countries have made Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu and Malayalam the common languages in Dubai.

Native Language in Dubai

Undoubtedly, Arabic is the native’s mode of expression but there is a catch. It is not the Arabic used in official places or the type found in Koran. It is significantly different from those, it is known as the Emirati dialect. Dialects can be treated as shades of the same vernacular. Moreover, the Emirati dialect is spoken in numerous forms by people of varying regions. Differences can be experienced in Abu Dhabi, the Eastern coasts and the Northern parts. Over the past few decades, Dubai has transformed into a closely knit multi-ethnic country. Due to these strong impressions of English and some other Asian languages can be observed in Emirati Arabic. For example, 'Hala' is inspired from the English word 'Hello', ‘Seeda’ meaning straight has come from Urdu while spices are called 'Abzar' has its roots from the Persian word 'Afzar'. These adaptations speak off the diversity of the in the Emirati version.

English – The Most Commonly Spoken Language

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The awe-inspiring transformation of a desert into a land of engineering marvel has attracted several multitudes of tourists from around the world. This made English a widely accepted language. Most official delegates can speak in fluent English. You may have a hard time while talking to drivers, delivery guys, etc. The simple reason being the direct translation of their mother tongue to English. Many government and private institutions including schools, colleges and hospitals have English as their second language. Though you might need a Public Relation Officer to get your work done in some public institutions.

There are many tourist guides who can converse in English since its one of the most commonly spoken languages in Dubai. Signboards, hoardings and hotel names are written in Arabic as well as English. English also has influences on many of the endemic languages. To sum it up, English can be rightly described as the dominant voice of Dubai.

Languages by Immigrants 

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The ever-changing landscape of Dubai would not have been possible without the hard-working labourers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other South Asian countries. This greatly adds up to the gauntlet of speeches in Dubai. Hindi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Bengali, Chinese, and Urdu are some of the few out of the multitudes of the spoken languages in Dubai. There are several institutions for Arabic learning as it is a tough nut to crack. Even if someone learns some phrases, he may have difficulty because of tremendous irregularities among various dialects.

Useful Words and Phrases

Dubai is compatible with a plethora of languages. Asian tourists have higher chances of speaking in their mother tongue while their stay in Dubai. While European and American visitors will always have English to fall back on. But the sweet little gesture of trying to speak in their words will win the hearts of many. While there are several institutions to teach you Emirati Arabic, you can kick off with our collection of Arabic words and phrases with their meanings.

Common Phrases:
  • Marhaba - Hello
  • Kaeefhalak - How are you?
  • Sabah el Khair - Good morning
  • Asef - Sorry
  • MaAaes-Salama - Goodbye
  • Massa el Khair - Good evening
  • LaaAref - I don’t Know
  • Shukran-Lak - Thank you
  • NaAm/La - Yes/No
  • MinFadlak - Please
  • Tawaqaf - Stop
  • Kam al Aadad - How many?
  • Kamath-Thaman - How much?
  • Maza/Man - Who?/What?
  • Ayna/Lemaza - Where?/Why?
  • Do you speak English? - halTaTaKalamalanglizia
  • I don’t speak arabic - ana La ataKalam El Aarabya
  • Nice to meet you - sarertuLemuqabalatek
  • Can I drive here? - Hal yomkanany El qayadahona
  • Is this the way to..? - Hal hazahowa et-tareeqela?
  • I need a doctor - aHtajelaTabib
  • Where can I buy…? - Aynayomkananyshera?
  • Where is the bathroom? - Ayna Al Hamam
  • Do you have a phone? - Hal Ladikahatef
  • Where is the nearest cash machine? - AynaaqrabSarafaalee
  • What is the time? - KamAlsaaa
  • Kindly repeat - A Ed min Fadlik
  • What’s up? - ShoofiMafi?
  • See You Tomorrow - AshoofookBukra
  • It is normal - Aadhi
One important thing to note is that, unlike English, phrases get a bit different while talking to men and women. To a great extent, pronunciation is the major pillar of Arabic. While also trying to learn the Arabic version used officially as natives of all regions can somehow connect to it. Avoid unnecessary chats with citizens of the opposite sex, you might get misunderstood. Natives are highly ethnocentric and might get offended by disrespect to their culture. But with millions of tourists pouring in every year, it is certain that you will enjoy its diversity at its core. Now that you are familiar with the languages in Dubai, when will you be visiting this magnificent country?

This post was published by Shaif Ahmad

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