How to Greet in Arabic

Published on 2022-11-26

Dubai is one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE's native language is Arabic, as the country's name suggests. If you're thinking about visiting Dubai, you might be wondering how you'd get around without knowing Arabic. That, however, will not be an issue. Dubai is a multicultural city where you can get by with a little English.


However, knowing the basic greetings is still useful if you are greeted in Arabic. Particularly since Arabs are known for welcoming visitors as well. Here are a few commonly used and important phrases you should know before you visit Dubai. It is important to remember that the words or types of welcoming phrases in Arabic vary according to the individual and the situation.


Marhaba is Arabic for “welcome”.This is also used to greet anyone at any time. To a male, female, or multiple people, the common response is "Marhaban bik", "Marhaban biki", or "Marhaban bikum".


Ahlan Wa Sahlan (or simply Ahlan) means “Hello” in English. This can be used to greet anyone, at any time of day. Ahlan is a shortened form of ahlan va sahlan. As you approach them, place your hands together and kiss their cheeks, saying “Ahlan”. Ladies traditionally kiss only ladies, and men only kiss men. This is also determined by the people's relationships. 

Men reply with “Ahlan bik” while women respond with "Ahlan biki." If you are responding to multiple people, say “Ahlan bikum”


You can also greet people based on the time of day. Say Sabah al-khayr in the morning, which is Arabic for “good morning”.Unlike English, there are several responses to this greeting, depending on the mood of the speaker. 


Misa Al Khayr translates to “good evening” or “beautiful evening”. This, like the English phrase good evening, is used in the afternoon.


"Good night," in Arabic, is expressed as “Tisbah 'ala khayr”. Which means to wake up to the good. The response is "Wa anta/anti min ahloo," which means "May you be one of the good.

All of the above greetings are standard Arabic greetings.  “Assalamu Alaikum” a phrase from the Prophetic traditions, is the most common greeting among Muslims. It means May God's peace be with you. The greeting expresses Muslims' religious identity and is intended to convey the message that the other person is Muslim. Non-Muslims should use it with Arabs they are familiar with. If you are greeted in this manner, the response is “Wa Alaikum Assalam” which means 'peace be upon you as well. 


Want to learn more about Arabic phrases? 

Arabic greetings contain far more than what has been covered here. Making use of a variety of greetings enhances your fluency. So try to recall as many as possible. Also, there are numerous ways to immerse yourself in UAE culture and heritage. You can go on our desert safari trip to experience the Bedouin heritage in the camp as well as many other things that can be found in the desert camp. For more information on useful Arabic words and phrases, click here.  

Ma’a salama !

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