The official language of Dubai is Arabic, though English is even more widely spoken. With the exception of some local Emiratis, who make up a small percentage of the total population, almost everyone living in or traveling to Dubai speaks at least passable English. Street signs and public documents are written in Arabic and English. In hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, beach clubs, sports facilities, entertainment complexes, and other public places, information is usually posted in both Arabic and English (or just English), and the staff invariably speaks English. In some of the city's more traditional areas, particularly Deira and Bur Dubai, you will also hear Hindi, Urdu, and Farsi.
Emiratis (sometimes referred to simply as "locals") speak a Gulf dialect of Arabic. It is similar to the Arabic spoken in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and parts of Oman. Gulf Arabic tends to be more guttural than classic Arabic and has been influenced by some Persian words. Unique features of Gulf Arabic include pronouncing "k" as "ch" and "j" as "y." The most likely place you will hear it spoken is on television, unless you travel outside Dubai where Arabic is much more common.
Note: When "M/F" is used below, it refers to whether you are speaking to a male or female.
English-Arabic Phrases -- Although you don't need a word of Arabic to get along in Dubai, some familiarization with this rich language will enhance your cultural understanding of the destination. Emiratis will appreciate your efforts to greet them or thank them in Arabic, and it is polite to say "Salam alaykoom" to a local before continuing a conversation in English, or "shukran" to express appreciation.
Thank you Shu-kran
No thanks La shu-kran
Please Min fadlak/min fadliki (M/F)
Let's go Ya-llah
God willing In-sha-la
Sorry, excuse me Af-wan, muta'assif
Hello Salam alaykoom
Hello (response) Wa alaykoom salam
Good morning Sabahh el-kheer
Good morning (response) Sabah in-nuwr
Good evening Massa' el kheer
Good evening (response) Massa' in-nuwr
Welcome Ah-hlan wa sah-hlan
Response Ahh-lan beek/beeki (M/F)
How are you? Kay fah-lak?/Kay fah-lik? (M/F)
Fine, thank you Zayn, shu-kran/Zayna, shu-kran (M/F)
Praise God Al hum-duleh-la
Great Zay al foll
What's your name? Shuw ismak?/Shuw ismik? (M/F)
My name is Is-mee [your name]
No problem Mish-mishkella
Where are you from? Inta min-ayn/Inti min-ayn? (M/F)
I'm from Anaa min [country]
India Al hind
It's a pleasure to have met you Forsa sai-eeda
I'm honored (response) Ana as-ad
Days of the Week, Periods of Time
The week starts on Sunday, and the weekend is Friday and Saturday. You'll notice if you compare the names of the days to the numbers that they are simply numbered sequentially. Days of the week are usually preceded by the word yom, meaning "day."
Sunday yom al had
Monday yom al itnayn
Tuesday yom al talaat
Wednesday yom al arba'
Thursday yom al khamees
Friday yom al goma'
Saturday yom as-sebt
Week/weeks isbu- a'/asabee-a'
Statements of Fact
I understand Ana fahim/ana fahma (M/F)
I don't understand Ana mu fa-him/ana mu fahhma (M/F)
I'm sick Ana ay-yan/Ana ay-yana
I like Ana beheb
I don't like Ana mabeh-bish
I want . . . Ana areed
I want to buy . . . Ana areed an ashtaree
I'm looking for Ana badowar
May I? Mumkin?
Could you please? Mumkin min fadhlak?
Where is Wayn al [thing]
the grocery store ba'ala
the gas station mahattat betrol
What does that mean? Yanni eh?
Where's the nearest . . . ? Wayn aghrab?
How do I get to Ana unzil [place] zay?
the Corniche? corniche zay?
What time is it? Sa' kam?
It is . . . Sa' [number]
behind -- wara'
go -- khush
go right here -- khush yameen min henna
here -- henna
in front of … -- uddam al
middle of nowhere -- wara es-shams
straight -- ala tool
to the left -- ala shi-mel/ala yassar
to the right -- ala yameen
up or above -- fo'
air-conditioning/air-conditioned -- takif/mukae-yif
air-conditioned room -- ghurfa mukae-yifa
date -- tareekh
fan -- marwaha
hotel -- funduq
one night -- leila wahada
room -- ghurfa
today -- an na-harda
toilet -- hamam
Can I see it? -- Mumkin atfarag-ha?
How much? -- Bikaam?
Simply tack these adjectives after nouns (for example: Cheap room = fundu' arkhees).
big -- kabeer
cheap -- arkhees
empty -- faadi
expensive -- ghalee --
free -- hali
small -- sagheer --
That's expensive! -- Ghalee giddan!
Other Useful Nouns
airport -- mataar
bed -- sareer
beer -- beera
bill/restaurant check -- hes-sab
bike -- agala
cafe -- magha
car -- arabeya
door -- bab
entrance/main door -- bab al reisi
embassy -- saffara
American embassy -- saffarat Ameriki
Canadian embassy -- saffarat Canadeya
British embassy -- saffarat Braitani
gas/petrol -- betrol
gas station -- mahattat betrol
hospital -- moustashfa
money -- fallous
museum -- methaf
nothing -- walla haga
pharmacy -- sayidalaya
restaurant -- mat'am
room -- ughfa
taxi -- taks
thing -- haga
water -- maiya
mineral water -- maiya madaneya
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.