Basic Arabic

Basic Arabic Phrases

Although English is increasingly used in business relationships, in many situations Arabic is the key language, as you would expect. Having a little bit of Arabic to start with is a great way to talk to the locals and converse with some of the people. It also shows that you have made an effort for their culture which is always beneficial. What we have provided below are a few phrases that will give you the basics. Arabs will be particularly impressed that you have at least made an effort to learn their language, and will score you some brownie points in a business situation. We have deliberately tried to spell the words to help you pronounce them correctly. Arabic is a difficult language to learn – so the next step up from this would be to take actual lessons.


Assalaam Alaikum -Peace be up on you

To which the reply is:

Wa Alaikum assalaam -And peace be upon you

This phrase will be used in many different contexts when meeting people.

Marhabbah - hello

to which the reply is:

Marhabbteen - hello

This is probably the equivalent of saying hi in the UK

Or you could just say Salaam


Sabah al khair - good morning

To which the reply is:

Sabah al noor


Masah al khair -good afternoon / evening

To which the reply is:

Masah al noor


Shukran (jazeelan) -thank you (very much) To which the reply is:

Aafwaan -you're welcome

An alternative to Shukran is Mushkoor

La Shukran  - no thank you


Ahlan wa sahlan -Welcome

To which the reply is:

Ahlan beek - welcome to you (to a male)

Ahlan beech (to a female)

Ahlan beekum (to a group)

This is usually used in introductions


Afwan – sorry/excuse me

Keef haluk? -How are you?

Sometimes shortened to Keefak

To which the reply is:

Al hamdu lillah (bi khair) - praise be to Allah (well)

This should be the usual reply.

Or Zayn which means Fine

You could use:

Ana bikhayr, shukran - I am fine, thank you

Weyn inta - Literally, where are you?, but probably equivalent to Long time no see

Occasionally you will hear:

Shu-ukhbaarak -what's your news?  - which you would reply to in the normal way


Aysh ismuk or Shu Ismuk -what is your name?

Ismi Jason -my name is Jason


Titakellem ingleezi -do you speak English?

Ana la atakellem al arabi -I don't speak Arabic

Terrref arabi? -do you know Arabic

Schway shway – a little bit

Atakullum inglieezi -I speak English



Inta min weyn? -where are you from?

Ana min ingliterra -I'm from England

Umreeka -USA

Oostraaalia -Australia

Al imaraaat -UAE

Wa inta? -and you?


Yaallah – come on / let’s go

Mafi Mushkil – no problem, sometimes mish mushkila or mu mushkila


Yani is a phrase thrown in to mean “like” or “you know” see glossary


Maasalaamah -Goodbye

To which the reply is:

Fi aman allah or Maasalaamah


Wayn al hammam – where is the toilet?


Miscellaneous Words


Inshallah -If Allah wishes

This phrase is used in reference to a future, since all things are at Allah's will. So if you say, see you tomorrow, you might be replied with Inshallah. Indeed, it is used in numerous contexts. You'll send me the report tomorrow? -Inshallah.

Maashallah -What Allah wishes

This is used when complimenting something, usually in the context of family or health.

Mabrook - Congratulations

This is used in any congratulatory context, more so than you would use in English.


Naam - yes

Aywa - yeah/ok

La - no

Min fudluk - please

Shoo? - what?

Shoofi mafi? -what's up? or what's the matter?

Shoo hada? - what is this?

Or you could just use “shoo” and in context it means “what’s happening or what’s going on?

Mafi mushkil -no problem

Itfudul -by my guest / my pleasure


When you sneeze you say

Al hamdu lillah

To which someone will say

Yer humkullah

And you will say again

Yer hamna wa yer humkum


Tamaam - perfect

Baadin - later

Dilwaati - now

Ilyoum - today

Bukra - tomorrow

Ashoofook bukra - see you tomorrow

Aadhi - it's normal

Jebli shai - bring me some tea  / can I have some tea please

Kallemni - call me/talk to me

Ma adhri - I dont know

Maa-i-khussni - its not my problem

Inta kida - thumbs up

Intaa tabaan thumbs down

Areed areef - i want to know

Mumken asaduq - can i help you


Useful for taxis


Sida - straight

Yasar - left

Yameen - right

Shwey Schwey – slow, drive slower. Shwey also means a little bit, perhaps in the context of food.

Khalas –finish or stop

Awwul  - first

Thanee - second

Thalith - third

Rabbea - forth

Muffruq – turning

Shariya – road

Ishaara - Traffic light / signal

At – fee

Min - From

Fouq – up

That - down


Tabaan - of course

Andi - i have

Kam -how much

Affwaan -excuse me

Kull -everything

Wayn- where

Maata - when

 Keyf – how

shoo – what

leysh – why

meen – who




0 -siffr

1 -wahid

2 -itnain

3 -thalatha

4 -arba

5 -khumsah

6 -settah

7 -sabaa

8 -thamaaneeya

9 -tissaa

10 -asharah

11 -ihda shaar

12- ithna shaar

13 -thalatha shaar

14 - arba ata shaar

15 -khamsta shaar

16 -sitta shaar

17 -saba ata shaar

18 -tamantha shar

19 -tis ata shar

20 -ishrin

21 -wahid wa ishrin

22 -ithain wa ishrin

23 -thalatha wa ishrin

24 -arbaa wa ishrin etc

30 -thalath een

40 -arba een

50 -khamseen

60 -sitteen

70 -sabeen

80 -thamaneen

90 -tiseen

100 -miyya

200 -mittain

300 -thalatha miyaa

400 -arba miyya etc

1000 -alf

2000 -alfain

3000 -thalaathat aalaf

4000 -arbaat aalaf



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