Did you know that there are 85% more expats working in Dubai than there are workers from the UAE? For that reason, it should come as no surprise then that you can go days without hearing even one word of spoken Arabic basics in the UAE. Furthermore, it’s also not that shocking that expats and their families who have lived in the UAE for quite some time still don’t know enough Arabic basics to have a chat with native speakers.
That being said, however, most expats living in the Middle East do, indeed, learn a few common Arabic words and phrases in the Arabic language. Moreover, those that do learn it do so because they realize that by learning the Arabic basics of polite exchange, you put yourself and the person that you’re talking to at ease. As a result, everyone should learn basics in Arabic words and phrases before traveling to an Arabic speaking country. Surely, these words and expressions will come up in most everyday banter.
Moreover, being polite is just as crucial in Arabic-speaking countries as it is anywhere else in this world. Knowing some basics in Arabic words and phrases will cover most of the pleasantries required for polite conversation. After all, learning to say the expressions of common courtesy in Arabic before traveling is just good manners.
In the Middle East, “Yes” and “no” can be confusing for Americans. In many Arab countries, the gesture for “yes”— shaking the head side to side — looks like the American gesture for “no” “No” in those areas is indicated by throwing the head back and looking upward. You may be further confused if the Arab recognizes you as an American and is trying to use the American gesture. Rest assured, in any Arab country, laa means “no.”