You Say Goodbye: Parting Ways in Arab Culture

Parting Ways in Arab Culture

You Say Goodbye: Parting Ways in Arab Culture

One interesting aspect related to saying “goodbye” in the Arab world is that saying goodbye can take a very long time! For example, I was on a phone call with an Iraqi student of mine one day and the end of the conversation went something like this:

Me: “Okay, taalibee (my student), I will talk to you later.”
Student: “Okay, ustaazee (my teacher).  Hello. Hello. Goodbye. Hello. Goodbye. Hello…”
Me (confused): “Hello? Yes? I’m still here. Did you need anything else?”
Student: “No, teacher. I will see you tomorrow.”
Me: “Okay. Bye.”
Student: “Hello. Goodbye. Hello. Goodbye. Hello…”

I let his hellos and goodbyes continue until they faded and he closed the phone. I was confused about this because I didn’t understand at the time why he kept saying hello to me and then goodbye. Did he still want to talk or was he ending the call?


As non-native Arabic speaker, this way of saying goodbye was, indeed, a strange way (at least to me) of ending a phone conversation. However, it soon dawned on me that perhaps this way of expressing “goodbye” is really a reflection on how Arabs feel about parting ways. Using these constant hellos mixed in with the goodbyes is not actually expressing farewell, rather it is expressing the hope to soon see someone again in the future. In other words, Arabs have long goodbyes because they find it hard to actually part ways, especially with one whose company they enjoy so much.

Perhaps another cultural reason goodbyes are longer than usual is because leaving abruptly can be seen as a little rude by the host; however, this is not true of all Arabs as most of them are aware of this stereotypical aspect and even joke among themselves about it.


Unfortunately, these little nuances aren’t often taught in when you are trying to learn Arabic language skills in the classroom or when trying to learn Arabic online, but don’t worry. We’ve got you covered as we now present to those learning to speak Arabic the most popular ways of ending a conversation in Arabic.


English Arabic Transliteration
Bye! مع السلامة! ma’a assalaamah!
Goodbye! وداعا!
مع السلامة!
wadaa’an!
ma’a assalaamah!
Goodnight! تصبح على خير tusbih ‘alaa khayr!
Sleep well! نم جيدًا! nam jayidan!
So long! منذ فترة طويلة جدا! Munthu fatrah taweelah jidan!
See you tomorrow! أراك غدا!, أراكِ غدا! araka ghadan! (m), araki ghadan! (f)
Farewell! وداعا! wadaa’an!
Until we meet again إلى اللقاء ’ilaa alliqaa’
See you later بشوفك بعدين Bashoofak ba’deen


In the end, it may seem that Arabs are loath to close conversations; however, this is not a negative aspect to their culture, but rather should be looked at as the positive fact that they really enjoy your company and the conversation that goes along with it.
Whether you’re learning Arabic for beginners or a seasoned professional of the language, Kaleela is also hesitant to say goodbye to you because we love you being with us so much, but let’s keep in touch at kaleela.com.