Exploring Arabic speaking countries can be quite an adventure, but you need to know how to ask for directions in Arabic and to understand what you’re told. After all, if you don’t understand the directions, you might miss the very things you hoped to see. 

However, first you need to know how to ask for directions, as it is a very common situation for the foreigner abroad. To get help you can say men fathlek/fathleki (for male and female, respectively), which means “Excuse me”, or hal beemkanek mosa‘adati? which translates to “Can you help me?”. Another variation for “Excuse me” is a’afwan, and it can be used if you have to stop somebody and ask for the way. You can also use a’afwan, as a reply to shukran (“Thank you”). In this case it means “You’re welcome”. The following words can help you understand the directions you hear in Arabic-speaking countries.

The following words can help you understand the directions you hear in Arabic-speaking countries

North in ArabicShamalشمال
East in ArabicSharqشرق
West in ArabicGharbغرب
South in ArabicJanoobجنوب
Right in ArabicYameenيمين
Left in ArabicYassarيسار
Straight in ArabicMustaqeemمستقيم
Between in ArabicBaynبين
On top of in ArabicFawqفوق
Inside in ArabicDakhelداخل
Outside in ArabicKharejخارج
Under in ArabicTahtتحت
Up in ArabicA’laأعلى
Down in ArabicAsfalأسفل
Beside in ArabicBjanebبجانب
To the right in ArabicIla al-yameenإلى اليَمين
To the left in ArabicIla al-yasaarإلى اليَسار
In front in ArabicFee al-muqadimaفي المُقَدِّمَة
In the back in ArabicFee al-mu’akhiraفي المُؤَخِرَة
Go in Arabic (Imperative)Ez-habإذهب
Turn in Arabic (Imperative)Leefلف
Before in ArabicQabalقبل
After in ArabicBa’dبعد
Next to in ArabicBejanibبجانب
In front of in ArabicAmamأمام
Around in Arabichawlحول
Near in Arabicqareebقَرِيْب
Close in Arabicqareebقريب
Far in Arabicba’eedبَعِيْد
Distant in Arabicba’eedبعيد
Lower in Arabicadnaأَدْنى (this works for “bottom” or “closer”)
Bottom in Arabicasfalأَسْفَل (this works for “below” or “lower”)

Now that you learned how to ask for directions, it’s very polite to use any phrase of gratitude whenever you have received any help from anybody. Thus, a useful phrase to remember would be /shukran jazeelan a’ala-l-musa’ada / شُكراً جَزيلاً على المُساعَدة, which means “Thank you so much for the help.” Likewise, you could use the shorter form shukran jazeelan – “Thank you very much!”

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