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VISIT QATAR

An intro to Arabic and the Qatari dialect

A guide on the language of Qatar and important phrases and words



VISIT QATAR

An intro to Arabic and the Qatari dialect

A guide on the language of Qatar and important phrases and words


Qatar’s official language is Arabic; however, English is widely spoken too. Other languages that can be heard in the country are Urdu, Farsi, Tagalog and Malayalam.

Since there are many nationalities that live in Qatar, their dialects are prominent in the community such as the Levantine dialects or the North African dialects. Arabs can generally understand each other, even when they speak their own dialects, but some are more difficult than others.

The Qatari dialect falls under the Gulf Arabic variety and it holds a part of Qatar’s historical identity. Qatari dialect is from Nabati which means it is derived from classical Arabic that was reshaped by the locals. The dialect was revived as a reaction to the increase in the use of the English language in the country which helped formulate and strengthen the Qatari identity and further spread the practice of the Arabic language.

Ranking

The most powerful  languages

1. English

2. Mandarin

3. French

4. Spanish

5. Arabic

6. Russian

7. German

8. Japanese

9. Portugese

10. Hindi


Arabic Language

The Arabic language is spoken widely across the world, it is also the official or co-official language of 26 states. Arabic is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world and it is ranked 5th in the Power Language Index for its level of importance.

The language is read from right to left and its grammar rules that their nouns are either masculine or feminine. Arabic can be split into three categories:

The Quranic Arabic: The Arabic language in which the Quran was written.

The Modern Standard Arabic: This is used in education, the professional field and for legal documentation. It is also the most generally understood form of Arabic by all Arabs and is also referred to as “fusha”.

The Colloquial Arabic: This is the general and everyday Arabic speech. This includes the various dialects across the Arabic speaking word and is referred to as “lah-ja” which means dialect.

DID YOU KNOW

It is a Semitic language

The Arabic language influenced various languages, including European, Asian and African languages

There are no capitalisations in the Arabic language

The Arabic language has sounds that are not found in any other language

Arabic has a word for the loss of reason after falling in love — al-huyum.


Where to learn Arabic in Qatar

It is common for expats living in Qatar to learn Arabic and the country is implementing laws to ensure the preservation of the language. For people who already speak Arabic, they may struggle to understand some of the slang or the Qatari dialect but there are ways for them to learn the most common words.

For people who want to learn Arabic, there are many resources available online and in local schools, even at a post-grad level at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. Other places in Qatar where you can learn Arabic include: Berlitz Qatar, the Educate Learning Centre, the Excellence Training Centre, and the HBKU Translation and Interpreting Centre.

Online classes can be found at the Shakespeare Language Centre, the Sheikh Abdulla Bin Zaid Al Mahmoud Islamic Culture Centre, and Tutor Me Now. All the details for the mentioned places can be found here.

Qatari Phrasebook

For those interested in the dialect, a handy phrasebook app was launched by Georgetown University in Qatar’s Arabic Programme.

The app contains over 1,500 words that are commonly spoken in the dialect and it also has an audio component to help people with the pronunciation of words.

Download App

Phrases to know in Arabic

Although all the signs in Qatar are written in both Arabic and English, there are some common phrases that are handy to know to help you navigate during your time in the country. Here is a list to get started with


Hello or Hi

There are multiple ways to say this, Marhaba, Salam, or Hala (used informally when you are close to someone) are the simple ones. For a more formal and Islamic greeting, people say As-Salam wa‘alaykum (this translates to “peace be unto you”). The response to this would be Wa-‘alaykumu-ssalām.


Good Morning

Sabah Al Khair

Good Evening

Masa’ Al Khair

Good Night

Tesbah Ala Khair


How are you?

In the Qatari dialect it’s Shlo-nik? (Male) and Shlo-nich? (Female). In another dialect its Keef Halak? (Male) and Keef Halek? (Female).

I am fine, thank you

Be-kheir, Shukran!


Thanks to Allah

Alhamdulilah, this is another way of saying that you are doing well, but is also used in many contexts, like after finishing a challenging task or after a meal. You are likely to hear this often.

Allah willing

Inshallah, this can be used when making plans for the future. For example, if you plan to meet up with someone tomorrow they may say “Inshallah” meaning if Allah (God) wills it, we will see each other tomorrow. It can also be used when in doubt about something happening.

Mashallah

This is used to show appreciation, express joy, praise a person or be believed to protect from evil eye. For example, if someone shows you their new car, you can say “Mashallah! I love it,” or if someone you know has graduated, you can say, “Mashallah, that’s amazing. Congratulations.”


Nice to meet you

Tasharafna be ma’reftak (Male) Tasharafna be ma’reftek (Female)


What’s your name?

Ish ismak? (Male) or Ish ismek? (Female). In the Qatari dialect, you would say, Ish Ismek? (Male) or Ish ismitch? (Female).


Where do I go?

Wen Arouh?

Where is…?

Ayna…?

What is the price?

Kam Al Se’er?


What time is it?

Kam Al Sa’ah?

What is your phone number?

Ish raqam telefonak? (Male)

Ish raqam telefonek? (Female)


Thank you

Shukran

You’re welcome

Afwan

Please

Itha-Samaht (Male)

Itha-Samahte (Female)


Yes

Naam or Sah

No

La

Ok

Tamam or Hasanan


Left

Yasar

Right

Yameen


I’m sorry

Ana Asif

Congratulations

Mabrouk

Come on

Yallah!


Hospital

Mustashfa

Airport

Al Mataar

Embassy

Safaara


Hotel

Al Funduq

Bank

Bank

Restaurant

Mat’am


When addressing an elderly person, there is a formality which is expected in the Qatari society. They are called Ybah (father) and Yumma (mother), or Haj (elderly man) and Hajeh (elderly woman) although they are not your parents it is a sign of respect among the Qatari community.