Whether you’re planning to travel or move to a new city, you need to learn how to communicate easily and properly with the area’s residents. This is so you can navigate and ask for help if necessary.
You don’t have to learn an entirely new language, especially if you’re just going to visit a new area for a short period of time. However, it would be useful to learn some common phrases and greetings.
How do I greet people in Dubai?
Tourists and visitors can talk or greet people in the city by saying marhaba, which means “hello.” Alternatively, you can also say maasalamah to bid a person farewell or end a conversation, as this greeting translates to “goodbye” or “with peace.”
There are plenty of other phrases and greetings that you can learn while you’re in Dubai. Scroll down to learn more and the best situation to say them in!
Most spoken languages in Dubai
According to Britannica, Arabic is the most spoken language in Dubai. It’s usually taught in schools, and native residents speak a dialect of Gulf Arabic.
|Number of People Who Speaks the Language
|Others ( English, Malayalam, Urdu, Pashto, Filipino)
Data from Imminent
As seen from the table above, aside from Arabic, there are also other dialects and languages being spoken in the city. This is because Dubai is actually home to a lot of expatriates, making up 89% of the city’s total population.
With that being said, you’ll be hearing a lot of different languages in the city as well.
These include dialects of Pashto, Persian, and other languages such as Hindi, Urdu, English, and Filipino. If you speak any of these languages, there’s a chance that you can converse with other expatriates while in Dubai.
Common Phrases Used in Dubai
Aside from saying hello and goodbye to people in the city, there are also some common Arabic phrases that you can utilize to greet or start simple conversations with others.
The table below lists some of Arabic phrases you might need while traveling in Dubai:
|mar-ha-ba or mar-ha-ban
|Goodbye or With peace
|Kayfa halluk (to a man) and Kayfa halluki (to a woman)
|Kai- fal- hal
|How are you?
|Sorry or Excuse me
Any city or residential district will develop its own slang. These phrases are informal, and commonly used by people residing within the same area or sharing the same culture.
While it isn’t necessary to learn these phrases to have an easy experience going around the city, we believe it’s best to give you an overview of some things you might hear as you travel to Dubai.
What’s interesting is that some of the slang in the city are a combination of different languages. We noticed that people tend to combine words from English, Filipino, Hindi, and Arabic to make phrases that became popular with the locals as well.
Additionally, there might be an instance where a local would use slang to answer your question, and you might not know what that means. Here’s a table showing some of the common slangs used in the city:
|Can I get your good name?
|Your name, please (usually used as the polite way of asking someone’s name)
|The catch-all phrase used by staff to address customers regardless of gender
|Refers to the rich
|Um or you know (usually a means a filler word or a trail off )
Phrases to use for specific situations
Now, there will be situations where you might need to say or understand some local dialect to help you navigate your way around the city during your travels.
For going to a new location or looking for a place
While there is Google Maps to help you, sometimes a local’s help can be easier to understand than trying to squint your eyes at the application for a direction.
|Phrases in Arabic
|I am lost
|Hal beemkanik musaea’adati
|Can you help me?
|Kam kiloometre ila….?
|How far is it to…?
Buying things at a market
At some point during your stay in Dubai, you’ll need to buy a few things. The city is home to many different establishments such as malls, outlet stores, and souks where you can purchase what you want or need.
Here are some of the phrases you might hear while going out shopping in Dubai :
|How much does it cost?
Can I still speak in English in Dubai?
Yes, you can. English is one of the languages you can definitely hear in Dubai, as the city is also filled with expatriates.
Additionally, since Dubai is a modernized and global city, people and residents tend to try and learn to speak or understand the language to cater to tourists and immigrants to their city.
If you’re a tourist, you can certainly spot signs, directions, menus, and other information written in English. Additionally, workers in the service industry usually speak the language, so you can certainly ask them for help during your stay.
What if I can’t speak English or Arabic?
If you don’t speak any of the languages we’ve mentioned, don’t worry as the city still aims to cater to different people from all parts of the globe.
There are different companies and services that offer tours and guides with staff members that can help you navigate and tour around the city.
Whether it’s just to make small talk or ask for help, there are different phrases you can utilize during your stay to make things a little bit easier! You don’t even need to learn an entire language either, so we hope this small primer helps you out when you visit Dubai.