Guide to Essential Arabic Phrases

A Traveler’s Guide to Essential Arabic Phrases


Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable trip to one of the best cities in the world?

Well, then you better come prepared if you’re heading out to Dubai!

Learning the local language can make your trip a whole lot better – it will certainly impress and warm the hearts of the locals. With that being said, we’ve made a guide of some essential Arabic phrases that you can take on your trip! 

Arabic Greetings

Arabic Greetings
Image source: Arabia Horizons

Like any other language, it’s best to start with basic Arabic greetings that will help you show respect to Dubai’s culture and gain connection with the locals:

  • Marhaba 

Marhaba, which means “hello” or “welcome,” is a simple but heartwarming greeting that anyone in Dubai would love to hear from a tourist. 

You can say Marhaba to hotel or restaurant staff, local sellers in souks, taxi drivers and locals you interact with.

Marhaban Bik, Marhaban Biki and Marhaban Bikum are the most common responses to this greeting depending on whether you’re talking to a man, woman or a group of people.

  • Ahlan wa Sahlan

Ahlan Wa Sahlan, which means “welcome”, is used to greet people in a more formal setting in Dubai.

If you observe the locals, they’ll traditionally greet someone Ahlan Wa Sahlan or Ahlan by putting their hands together and kissing the other person.

But only similar genders perform this gesture of welcome since men are not allowed to hold or kiss women.

Ahlan Bik, Ahlan Biki and Ahlan Bikum are the common replies to this greeting.

  • As-salaam ‘Alykum

As-salaam ‘Alykum is considered the most popular Arabic greeting because it means “peace be upon you.”

In Dubai, the greeting is used mostly by people who already know each other and the common response would be Wa’alaykum as-salaam, which means “peace be upon you too.”

  • Maasalaamah

Maasalamaah is the Arabic greeting for “goodbye.” It also means “with peace” and you can use this to say goodbye to someone in a casual manner.

Time Specific GreetingResponse
Sabah Al-Khayr – Good MorningSabah An-Noor – Morning of Beauty or Morning of Joy
Misa’al-Khayr – Good EveningMisa’an-Noor or An-Noor – Evening of Beauty or Evening of Joy
Tisbah ‘ala Khayr – Goodnight or Wake Up to the GoodWa Anta or Anti Min Ahloo – And May You Be One of the Good

Arabic Phrases for Asking Questions

Arabic Phrases for Asking Questions
Image source: Klook

Although most people in Dubai speak English, it would come handy to learn basic Arabic phrases that will help you communicate with locals when asking questions.

Basic Questions

  • Shenu Ismak?

Shenu Ismak means “what is your name?” and it’s useful when you’re trying to get to know a local or you just want to politely ask someone’s name.

  • Tetkallam Engleezi?

This phrase translates to “do you speak English?” and it’s a good way to ask a local if he can converse with you in English. 

A lot of tourists use this phrase when talking to sellers and staff they meet while exploring the city.

  • Kaeef Halak?

Kaeef halak? means “how are you?” and it’s usually asked after greeting someone Marhaba.

This question is a great way to strike up a conversation with anyone in a polite way and locals usually respond positively to it.

  • Shu or Meen?

Shu or Sheno? means “what?” and Meen or Meno? means “who?” These words come in handy when you’re trying to engage in a simple conversation with a local.

  • Leysh or Wain?

Leysh translates to “why?” while Wain translates to “where?” These words will help you ask basic questions when talking to locals.

Asking for Directions

  • Kaif Awsal Le…?

This Arabic phrase means “how do I get to…?” and it’s useful when you’re trying to ask for directions to a place that you’d like to visit.

Locals in Dubai are known to be helpful to tourists who ask them for directions. So, if you come across someone who doesn’t speak English, you can use this phrase to ask the question.

You can also use the word Wain…?, which translates to “where is…?”

  • Hath El Tareeg Ywassel Le…?

Hath el tareeg ywassel le…? translates to “is this the way to…?” This phrase is another useful way to ask for directions when you’re trying to go somewhere in the city. 

  • Wain Alhamam?

This phrase translates to “where is the bathroom?” and it’s quite useful when you’re out and about in the city.

  • Ayna Arab Ma-Hatet?

Ayna arab ma-hatet? translates to “where is the closest petrol station?” This phrase is very useful if you’re planning to rent a self-drive car while you’re in Dubai.

  • Ayna Arab Saraf?

This phrase means “where’s the nearest ATM machine?,” so it’s easier for you to get cash if you’re shopping around Dubai.


  • Wain Agdar Ashtri…?

Wain agdar ashtri…? is the Arabic phrase for “where can I buy…?” This is useful when you’re looking for a specific product to buy while in Dubai.

  • Sheno Hatha?

Sheno hatha? translates to “what is this?” and it’s a good phrase to use if you’re trying to learn about a product that’s unfamiliar to you.

  • Kam?

Kam means “how much?” and it’s useful when asking about prices, especially if you’re shopping in flea markets, souks and local shops. 

Some people also use the phrase Kam el se’er?, which translates to “what is the cost?”

  • Kam Al Ijar?

Kam al ijar? means “how much is the rent?” You can use this phrase when looking for a place to stay while you’re in Dubai.

Simple Answers for Conversations
Na’am – YesLa – No
Shukran – Thank YouMa-azera – Excuse Me
Min Fadlak – PleaseKhalaas – Stop
Laa-Aref – I Don’t KnowAnnee Food – I Think I’m Lost
Mosa-Ada – HelpMabrook – Congratulations
Yallah – Let’s Go

Arabic Phrases for Emergencies

Arabic Phrases for Emergencies
Image source: MBRU

No matter how careful you are, you can never predict emergencies while you’re traveling around Dubai.

So, it’s very important to learn these basic Arabic phrases that will help you communicate with locals during these times:

  • Sayaratee Taatalat

This phrase means “my car has broken down” and it would be useful if you encounter this problem while driving in Dubai.

  • Ahtaj Tabib

Ahtaj tabib simply means “I need a doctor.” This phrase will help you seek medical help in case you or a member of your family gets sick during your holiday.