Arabic 102: 10 phrases to know when living in Qatar!

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By Sarah Schroeder

Images courtesy of iStock by Getty Images

How advanced are your Arabic skills? If you’ve lived in Qatar for some time, you probably use the occasional ya3ni or insh’allah, but do you know how make small-talk? Do you know how to order something, or how to say ‘good morning’? If you’re in Qatar for a visit, you may find it handy to know a bit of the local language. We all know that your ability to speak English is sufficient for getting around in Qatar, but life isn’t really about being ‘sufficient’ – is it? If you feel like going the extra mile, to share kindness, fun, be polite, and impress others, keep reading! 

Maybe it’s time for your second lesson of Arabic! In Arabic 101, we learned Arabic words for greetings, a ‘thank you’, and fun expressions – but why stop there? Have a look at ILQ’s fun Arabic phrases to start revising. Knowing a handful of phrases can really make a difference, whether it’s in the office, at your fave karak shop, or when visiting your local friends!

1. Shinnu akhbarik/akhbarak  شينو أخباراك

What’s up? A simple way of asking how a friend is doing, or what they’ve been up to is by asking shinnu akhbarik! When you come into the office on Sunday, ask your Arabic coworkers what’s up in Arabic! It’s shinnu akhbarik if your colleague is female, and shinnu akhbarak if your colleague is male.

2. Yislamu ideeki/ideek  يسلمو إيديك

Next time you’re invited to a friend’s house for dinner, let them know you’ve enjoyed their cooking in Arabic! This is a very sweet way of saying that their food is delicious. Yislamu ideek can be translated to ‘God bless your hands’. Your friend has simply outdone herself!

3. Min fadlik/fadlak  من فضلك

What’s the magic word? You’re thinking of please, but it’s min fadlik in Arabic! It’s magical indeed, because it makes you instantly more polite and respectful. Say min fadlak to the Monsieur and min fadlik to the Mademoiselle.

4. Sabah al-khair/Sabah an-nour  صَباح النور - صباح الخير

How you begin your day affects how you feel for the rest of it. Start your day off right by wishing someone a good morning in their mother tongue – sabah al-khair! Most appreciate your effort, and a good mood is definitely contagious! Their reply will be sabah an-nour, meaning ‘the day of light’.

5. Madri  ما ادري

When you practice your Arabic with the people around you, don’t be surprised when someone assumes you’re fluent. If you don’t know what to say, just tell them! Madri is a local expression for I don’t know!

6. Tasharafna ya Ahmed  يا تشرفنا

First impressions stick! If the person you’re introduced to is an Arabic speaker, and you want to let them know that it was a pleasure meeting them, say it in Arabic. It’s all in one word – tasharafna! For a personal touch, add ya and their name!

7. Ya’tik(i) al ‘afiah  يعطيك العافيه

Although you might know that shukran means ‘thank you’, it’s not the only way of saying it! Ya’tik al ‘afiah is a nice change, and often a happy surprise. It literally means ‘may God give you health and strength’. If you’re speaking to a girl, just add an i at the end of Ya’tik, and you’re giving her a special thank you.

8. Tafaddal!/Tafaddali  تَفَضَّلْ

When you present something to a person or physically give them something – such as a pen to write, tea, or money to buy something, you can say tafaddal! It means ‘here you go’! Tafaddal for guys and tafaddali for girls is a useful expression, especially when you’re in the Souq! 

9. Ana assif  أنا آسف

Apologies are much sweeter when they come from the heart. Try to say it in the mother tongue of the person you apologize to. Ana assif means ‘I’m sorry’. Easy!

10. Abee wahid karak  ابي واحد كارك

Finally, a very essential phrase in Qatar to learn by heart is abee wahid karak. It means ‘I want one karak’. (Although you’ll rarely need just one!) Start combining phrases and you can say ‘Abee wahid karak min fadlak’. Can you guess what it means?

Now that you’ve seen our Top 10 Arabic phrases, get to the books! After your first two lessons of Arabic, and a bit of practice with your friends, you should be near fluent very soon. Well… maybe not quite. But it’s fun, stimulating for your mind, and shows that you take an interest in people’s culture and language!

What other phrases do you know? Are there any super-crucial phrases you can’t live without? Let us know! Also don’t forget to give us a like and a share – you know it keeps us going!