Arabic 101: Top 10 words to know while living in Qatar!

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By Sarah Schroeder

Images courtesy of iStock by Getty Images

Most of the time, when we move to a different country, we expect to learn the language within a couple of years of living there. In Qatar however, things are a little different! Because of educational opportunities and the country’s incredible diversity, the majority of people speak English. Therefore, you might even be able to go without speaking any Arabic for the entirety of stay in Qatar. But where’s the fun in that?

For many expats, Qatar becomes home. Now, speaking the language makes many things easier – even if you can survive with your English skills. Learning a new language is not just a new adventure, but it makes it easier to connect with people whose first language you’re learning, understand the local culture, and have fun with the people you encounter! Arabic has got to be one of the most beautiful, expressive, and poetic languages. Case in point – ever heard an Arabic song?

While it would be marvelous to be able to understand a song by Fairuz, we’re not going to teach you Arabic in one day. Instead ILQ has compiled a Top 10 of the most useful and fun words to know while living in Qatar. Practice a few and impress your friends and colleagues!

 

1. Hala   هلا

‘Hello!’ ‘Welcome!’ Hala is a more casual way of greeting someone compared to marhaba or salam alaikum. Give a warm welcome to your colleagues at work on Sunday with hala!

 

2. Mashallah    ماشاعالله

Formally pronounced ‘Ma sha’ allah’, this word is an expression of joy, appreciation, and thankfulness. It literally means ‘God has willed’, and can be said when you admire something or someone’s achievement. If, for example, you really love your friend’s new shoes, you can add mashallah to your compliment. In this use, the word mashallah also avoids an impression of envy to the one receiving the compliment.

 

3. Khalas   خلاص

When enough is enough, the word khalas is used. When you want something to end like a discussion with a friend, or your son to stop drawing on the walls just say ‘khalas’. Place a ‘t’ at the end to indicate you’re finished with something, whether it’s work or your dinner – ‘khalast!’ 

 

4. Ma’assalama   معالسلامه

 This is a beautiful way of saying goodbye. It’s a parting ‘with        peace. ’Ma’assalama’ is sweet, respectful. and polite!

 

5. Shukran (jazeelan)  شكراًجزيلا

Shukran means ‘thank you’. Expressing one’s thankfulness means twice as much when you’ve made the effort to say it in the receiver’s mother tongue. And, if you want to give special thanks, just add ‘jazeelan’ at the end. Easy!

 

6. Afwan   عفواً

Similarly, if someone thanks you, you can say ‘you’re welcome’ in Arabic. Afwan may also be used to express ‘excuse me’ when you need to ask for directions for example.

 

7. Yalla   يلّاWhen you live in Qatar, you hear this word a lot! ‘Yalla’ can mean ‘let’s go’, 'come on’, and ‘hurry up’. Live long enough in Qatar and you’ll find yourself using the word when a     friend or family member is taking their sweet time. What         will feel natural to you will leave your guests or friends from       back home puzzled

Yalla, let’s continue!

 

8. Ajeeb    عجیب

Ajeeb is a great word. Its origins mean ‘strange’ in Arabic, Urdu, and Hindi, but it’s since become a way of saying ‘amazing’, ‘cool’, or ‘magical’. We at ILQ are very ajeeb!

 

9. Habit’tayn    حبتتين 

Another fun word to use is habit’tayn, meaning ‘two meals’. In Qatar, locals may use it if they’re especially impressed with something. If your friend does something really spectacular you may want to tell them ‘Habit’taaaaayn’! Wow, that was incredible!’

 

10.  Insha’allah   أنشاءالله 

Finally, one of the most important words for living in Qatar (or anywhere in the Middle East really) is insha’ allah! Patience might come from within, but I believe the act of saying inshallah helps us be calm and patient. While it literally means ‘God willing’, it can also be translated as ‘hopefully’, or ‘with God’s help’. If you wish for something to happen, or don’t know when something will happen, you can add insha’allah. The word is also used if you wish for someone to get better when they’re sick, or if you hope   they’ll arrive safely from their travels.

Things in life don’t always go your way or have a clear path. Insha’allah may help restore some faith – especially when times seem very rough. Insha’allah things will get better!

 

Yalla, let’s practice some Arabic! This list is in no way exhaustive – there are many more beautiful, useful, and fun words you can learn!

Do you know any you want to share with us? Let us know what your top Arabic words to use are by dropping us a line in the comments section below. Also don’t forget to give us a like and a share – you know it keeps us going!