Our series of basic Arabic words continue! In this article, we will approach the days of the week. After reading this you might notice that the name of the days in Arabic is in close relation to the number system (link here). Maybe you will want to arrange a meeting with someone on a specific day, or you want to tell someone what you did last Wednesday. Actually, this is one of the basic lessons in any language. By the day, day in Arabic is yoom – يوم, days is aiyaam – أيام, week is usbuu3 – أسبوع and weeks is asaabii3 – أسابيع.
In the Arab world, the week normally starts with Sunday. Also, the days are derived from numbers. So, technically speaking, Sunday is the “first day”, Monday is the “second day” and so on. So, the only 2 days that are an exception from this are Friday and Saturday, as they have their own meaning. We’ll explain this later below.
|Sunday in Arabic
|Monday in Arabic
|Tuesday in Arabic
|Wednesday in Arabic
|Thursday in Arabic
|Friday in Arabic
|Saturday in Arabic
Now, as you see, Friday in Arabic is not related to any number. It derives from the verb “to gather” (aljuma3a). In the Arabic-speaking regions, Islam has been the dominant religion historically speaking. Friday is the day of prayers and meeting with family and friends.
Interestingly, Saturday actually means “day of the sabbath”, and it’s actually from where we get the English word Sabbath. To clarify, Saturdays are the Sabbath day for Jews, where there is an abstinence from work or labor. It does not hold much meaning for the Muslim majority countries. The weekend consisted of Thursday and Friday in the Arab world. However, due to globalization and needing to interact with the western world for business purposes made a few countries shift the traditional Thursday – Friday weekend to Friday – Saturday.
There are still a few countries that practice the traditional weekend, like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. However, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, the Sudan, Syria, and the UAE use the Friday-Saturday weekend. What is interesting is that Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia actually use a Saturday-Sunday weekend. Lebanon actually used to be a Christian majority at some point (now it’s a 50-50 population), so having Saturday and Sunday makes sense.
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