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.

Basic Vocabulary

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.

Yes Ay-wa/naam

No La'

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)

Greetings/Welcome Mar-haba

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]

America Ame-ri-ki

Britain Brai-ta-ni

Europe O-ro-pi

India Al hind

It's a pleasure to have met you Forsa sai-eeda

I'm honored (response) Ana as-ad

Goodbye Ma-salama


0 sifr

1 wahed

2 itnain

3 talaata

4 arbaa'

5 khamsa

6 sitta

7 saba'

8 tamanya

9 tissa

10 ashera

11 hadaasher

12 itnaasher

13 talataasher

14 arabataasher

15 khamsataasher

16 sittaasher

17 sabataasher

18 tamantaasher

19 tissataasher

20 ashreen

30 tala-teen

40 arba-een

50 khamseen

60 sitteen

70 saba-een

80 tamaneen

90 tissa-een

100 mia

200 mee-tain

1,000 alf

2,000 alfayn

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

Day/days yom/ayam

Week/weeks isbu- a'/asabee-a'

Month/months shahr/shahour

Today an-nahar-da

Yesterday imber-ihh

Tomorrow boukra

Now dil-wa'atee/al-an

Later badayn

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

Asking Questions

What? Shuw?

Why? Laysh?

Who? Meen?

When? Mata?

Where? Wayn?

How? Kayf?

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]

Travel Tems


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'

Hotel Rooms

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.