31 July 2013| Last updated on 5 September 2016
Language in Dubai
We are so lucky in Dubai that even though the official language is Arabic that English is very widely spoken and most signs are in English too!
However, even though English is a popular language here in the UAE, it wouldn't hurt to know some generic Arabic words and phrases.
Although it does not hurt to learn a few Arabic phrases and words- it is really nice to make an effort to be polite and you will see a great response when you try! Here are some of the most useful ones that you should add to your vocabulary as an expat… (excuse the spelling- we have written it how you would say it!)
Good Morning: Sabah al khair
Good Evening: Sabah al noor
How are you?: Shlonik?
Hi or Hello: Salam alay kum
If someone says the above to you the reply is: Wah lay kum salam
I’m good: Ani zein
Good Bye: Masalama
Thank you: Shukran
Your welcome: Afwan
Excuse me: lawsomatti
Slowly: Shwaih shwaih
Yes: Naam or sa
Ramadan Greetings: Ramadan Mubarak
Eid Greetings: Eid Mubarak
God willing: Inshallah
Let's Go: Yellah!
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- See the best of Dubai with AED 50
- Life after Dubai with Morgan Carver Richards
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Zero - siffer
Dinglish or Dubai English
Dubai really is a melting pot of cultures with over 60 nationalities living here! Language being the wonderful fluid thing it is has changed and absorbed some common phrases into it from the many people living here. Dinglish (Dubai English as it has been dubbed) is a proper mix of Hindi, Arabic, English and outmoded English phrases that everyone who’s been here for any time will inevitably start to use. You might feel a bit lost at first but our explanation of the words might help as you try to find your way around Dubai.
Backside= behind! So if you are in a taxi and want to be dropped behind a building- ask for the backside you will be better understood and no it's not rude!
Frontside= the front of something
Jeldi Jeldi= quick quick= used across many nationalities! Get's the job done faster!
Inshallah= means god willing in Arabic. So if you ask someone will I see you tomorrow the answer may be Inshallah meaning if god wills it yes they will be there. Also sometimes used to imply doubt about something happening.
Please do the needful= JFDI, please do your job. This is a personal favourite!
Gift i.e. to gift something to someone I gifted John a new toy. Somehow a gift has become a verb- just go with it!
Same, Same= the same- just use the word twice- it works!
SEE ALSO: 20 things you only experience in Dubai
Today itself= today… we don’t know why the reiteration on itself- maybe it means must be done today as opposed to maybe I will do it today
He is not in his station/ in his cabin= means someone is not at their desk or out of office
Mamsir= catch all phrase of address as in “Hello Mamsir”- saves people working out if you are a man or a woman
Real, genuine fake= a copy. Well we guess they are right sort of it- it’s a fake but it’s a real fake as opposed to a fake fake!
Can I get your goodname?= means your name… as opposed to giving them your bad name of course.
Tell me= Please explain I am listening to you. This one is found very rude by some- we guess it’s just a quick way of saying come on then spill the beans!
Britishers= British person- must be what they were called years ago
Habibi/ Habibti= My dear, my darling. You’ll hear this one scattered about a lot in multi- cultural conversations and find yourself using it- it’s a fab sounding word!
Maffi Mushkilla- no problem- we use this one a lot- it trips off the tongue
Turned turtle= means to totally flip over e.g. his car turned turtle in the accident
We will keeping adding to this handy “phrasebook” as we come across more phrases and words to share with you. If you are looking to go for language lessons check out our Further Education and Short Courses For Women sections.