The Role of Arabic and English in the UAE



Arabic is the native and official language of the UAE, but how many of its residents are actually proficient in the Arabic language and what does proficiency really mean?

The UAE is home to a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural population, and with Emirati citizens making up less than 20% of the total population. It is perhaps then not surprising that English is now the most spoken language, closely followed by large percentages of Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and Tagalog speakers. With such an international work-force, English has become the language to bridge the communication gap between its residents.

Similarly, with the UAE’s ongoing international development and new found place in today’s globalized world, the UAE has witnessed the use of English spread to every domain of life, whether it be in business, education, government or at home. However with the dominance of English, many are worried that the role of Arabic as the national language and its place as the language of Arab culture, tradition and religions is being sidelined and national identity being threatened.

In response to this, many language policies and initiatives have been undertaken by the government to tackle Arabic’s marginalisation. These include things such as the Arabic Language Charter and the Arabic Language Protection Association (ALPA) in Sharjah that works to enhance the use of Arabic in the country, and a government decision to make Arabic language classes compulsory in all private and international schools.

But to what extent are such initiatives working? It seems until now non-native Emirati’s are still struggling to learn and become proficient in Arabic, and without Arabic being adopted by non-native speakers, Arabic will continue to be a linguistic minority.

English speaking expats on beach in dubai

If you are resident in the UAE and want to improve or learn more about the Arabic language, why not pay a visit or get in touch with the following establishments:

In Abu Dhabi:

Kwintessential Arabia 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

+971 4 313 2832

British Council T: +971 800 225522

In Dubai:

Kwintessential Arabia

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

+971 4 313 2832

Arabic Language Centre : +971 4 308 6036

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

+971 4 353 6666


Latest Post

© Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved