The Arabic language is complex and has many surprising facts you may be unaware of. Arabic is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, with approximately 290 million native speakers and 132 million non-native speakers. It is spoken by Arabs across the Middle East and in some countries in Africa and Asia, where it is an official language. It is listed as one of the top languages to learn in order to be hired internationally.
Below, I have compiled a list of facts about the Arabic language and Arab culture.
Arabic Language Facts
- Arabic contains many words that have more than one pronunciation and meaning. Use diacritic marks to denote the right pronunciation and eliminate ambiguity.
- Arabic is spoken in more than 20 countries.
- Arabic is classified as a member of the Semitic family of languages.
- Arabic’s spoken dialects include:
- North African Arabic: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya
- Hassaniya Arabic: Mauritania
- Egyptian Arabic: Egypt
- Levantine Arabic: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine
- Iraqi Arabic: Iraq
- Gulf Arabic: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman
- Hejazi Arabic: Western Saudi Arabia
- Najdi Arabic: Central Saudi Arabia
- Yemeni Arabic: Yemen & Southwestern Saudi Arabic
- Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the language used in all written work, such as printed material and customer and corporate communications across Arabic-speaking regions.
- Words are written from right-to-left.
- Numbers are written from left-to-right.
- One big difference between the English and Arabic languages is that Arabic letters are only written in cursive.
- Arabic doesn’t use abbreviations or capitalization.
Arab Culture Facts
- Respect is highly regarded.
- Men hold the dominate roles in families and society.
- Arab people prefer to start and end their requests by saying “please”.
- Arab culture is very conservative. If you are marketing to Arab audiences, use appropriate images and graphics that appeal to your audiences’ conservative values.
- There are many Arabic folk dances, but one of the most popular ones is called “Dabka”. Dabka combines circle dance and line dancing and is performed at weddings and other celebrations.
- Arabs are known by their good hospitality and generosity.
- Arabian business owners prefer to take time to “break the ice” and get to know the people they are doing business with to establish respect and trust before any business is discussed in meetings.
- Attire for men varies from the traditional robes in KSA and Qatar to western business suits and casual clothes in Egypt and Lebanon.
- The favorite drinks of Arabs are tea and coffee. They like the tea cup to be filled to the top and it’s considered an insult if it’s not filled to the top.
- Arabs represent many dialects, religions and regions. Arab is not a race, it is a cultural term that describes people whose mother tongue in Arabic.