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A guide to learning the Arabic language

Adapting to a new country is often an adventure filled with numerous exciting opportunities and challenges. One aspect that greatly facilitates this transition is mastering the local language. For expatriates in Saudi Arabia, understanding Arabic is invaluable. This language is not only a communication tool but also a gateway to a culture steeped in rich history and tradition. This article aims to guide you through the process of learning Arabic, focusing specifically on its relevance and application in the Saudi Arabian context.

Why Learn Arabic?

As an expatriate in Saudi Arabia, learning Arabic can significantly enrich your experience. Being the fifth most spoken language worldwide, Arabic is spoken by over 300 million people across 22 countries, and Saudi Arabia is at the heart of this linguistic expanse.

Arabic is also the liturgical language of Islam, understood by nearly 1.8 billion Muslims, including the vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s population. Learning Arabic allows you to engage meaningfully with locals, comprehend cultural nuances, participate in Saudi traditions, and navigate everyday life with greater ease. Furthermore, proficiency in Arabic can open up numerous career opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

What Are The Different Types of Arabic?

Arabic generally falls into two categories: Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and colloquial Arabic. MSA is a universal form used in official documents, news broadcasting, and literature. It is the version taught in most language schools and is widely understood by Arabic speakers.

On the other hand, colloquial Arabic varies from one region to another. Saudi Arabian colloquial Arabic, known as Najdi Arabic or Hejazi Arabic, differs from the Arabic spoken in other Arab countries. As an expatriate in Saudi Arabia, familiarizing yourself with the local dialect alongside MSA will significantly aid your social interactions and overall comprehension.

What Are The Benefits of Learning Arabic?

Apart from practicality, learning Arabic can stimulate cognitive development, improve problem-solving skills, and foster cultural empathy. Arabic’s unique script and phonetic system, written from right to left, can enhance cognitive flexibility and creativity. More so, for expatriates in Saudi Arabia, learning Arabic fosters a sense of belonging and facilitates deeper connections with the local community and workplace.

How To Learn Arabic

Choose a Method That Works For You

The most effective learning method depends on individual preferences. This might be structured courses, online learning, self-study through textbooks or apps, or language immersion. For expatriates in Saudi Arabia, participating in local language exchange meetups could be a useful way to practice conversational Arabic.

Set Realistic Goals

Learning a new language is a marathon, not a sprint. Setting achievable targets such as learning a specific number of words each day, being able to order food in Arabic, or understanding Saudi TV shows can make the process enjoyable and less daunting.

Find a Good Teacher or Tutor

Having a proficient teacher can be very helpful, especially when navigating the complexities of Arabic grammar and pronunciation. Look for local tutors who can provide personalized lessons and offer insights into Saudi colloquial Arabic.

Immerse Yourself in the Language

Incorporate Arabic into your daily life. Listen to Saudi music, watch local TV shows, read Saudi newspapers, and interact with your Saudi colleagues and neighbors in Arabic. This immersion approach will familiarize you with the rhythm and sound of the language, making learning more natural and enjoyable.

Resources For Learning Arabic


For beginners, “Alif Baa: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds” is a great start. For a deeper understanding, “A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic” is a comprehensive resource.


Duolingo and Rosetta Stone offer structured Arabic courses.


Language learning apps like Memrise, Anki, or HelloTalk can assist with vocabulary building and practice. They provide interactive learning experiences, making the process enjoyable and flexible to suit your schedule.

Language schools

Consider enrolling in language schools offering Arabic courses in Saudi Arabia. Not only do these institutions provide structured learning, but they also offer a valuable opportunity to meet other expatriates on the same language journey.


Learning Arabic as an expatriate in Saudi Arabia is an invaluable skill, enriching both your professional and personal life. Remember that the process of mastering a new language is a gradual one, filled with small victories and occasional setbacks. But with consistent effort, immersion, and the right resources, it’s an attainable goal.

Above all, learning Arabic is not just about understanding words and grammar; it’s a journey into a culture and a way of life. Whether you’re ordering a traditional Saudi dish in Arabic, engaging in a friendly conversation with a local, or understanding a Saudi song, each interaction will contribute to your experience in Saudi Arabia, making it more enriching and enjoyable. So, embark on this linguistic journey with an open mind and a readiness to embrace the surprises along the way. Happy learning!

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