15 Must-Know Words When in the Middle East

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Communication, in my opinion, is a powerful tool for connecting with people. It can bring us closer together. I spent three years and counting in the Middle East as an ex-pat based in Dubai, UAE. At first, it was a challenge to communicate with people of different nationalities. Apart from Arabs, the majority are Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Nepalis. These nationalities have common words and phrases that bond them.

Surprisingly, I picked up some of their common phrases and words, which proved extremely useful when communicating. Using these words can also help you build rapport with people from the Middle East and Asia. They are definitely entertaining, one-of-a-kind, and timeless!

Bringing you 15 Must-Know Words When in the Middle East

15 Must-Know Words When in the Middle East - 52stirs.com
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1. Yar

It’s a Persian, Arabic word that means ‘friend’.  It’s normally used to address a pal or buddy in a friendly manner. Example: “Can you help me, Yar?!”, “What is this, Yar?”

2. Habibi

It’s an Arabic word that means ‘my love’, ‘my dear’, or ‘beloved’.  It’s normally used to express sweetness and tenderness to someone when speaking to them.  I use this when I want to ask for help or a favor from a colleague and it usually works! Lol. Example: “Please Habibi, help me with my report.” “Habibi, help me get approval”. “How are you, Habibi?”

3. Yalla

This is a colloquial Arabic word that can be used in different kinds of situations.  I use this when I want to say ‘Let’s go’ or if I want to push someone away so they will go wherever they need to go.  It’s a magic trick that works too! Example: ‘Yalla, Habibi!’

4. Khalas

It’s an Arabic word which means ‘Done’, ‘Finished’, or sometimes, ‘Enough’.  I usually use this word when my boss asked me if I’m done with my work.  I will reply with confidence! “Khalas!”

5. Xalli Walli or Khali Wali

This is an Arabic phrase that means “Who cares?”. I usually use this to tease someone when they ask for help from me. Their reactions are superb funny! Friend: Help me finish these documents. We need to file them before the end shift. Me: Khali Wali, you can do it on your own.

6. Insha’Allah

Insha’Allah is one of my favorites, an Arabic (Islamic phrase) that means “if Allah (God) wills it.” The word reminds us to be humble and put our fate in God Almighty. Example: “I will finish my report on or before Thursday, insha’Allah!”

7. MashAllah

MashAllah, is another favorite word of mine. An Arabic word that means “God has willed it.” It is also used to express happiness in favor of our God Almighty. For example, I saw a cute baby: “Ohh, MashAllah! She’s so cute!”

8. Yani

Yani is an Arabic Interjection word that may mean ‘you know,’ ‘so,’ ‘like,’ or ‘kind of.’ Example, Me: “yes, yani?”, “Yani, this is not right…”

9. Shuhada

It’s an Arabic word that denotes someone who is always complicated and bipolar with a friendly atmosphere.  Example, Me: I don’t have lunch today, give me 10 dirhams to buy food (in full demand with a smile).  Friend: Shuhada, Mafi Fulus! Yalla, drink water!”

10. Mafi Mushkila

It’s an Arabic phrase that means ‘No problem’ or ‘I got this.’

11. Mafi Fulus

It’s an Arabic phrase that means ‘No money’; it’s the best answer when someone wants to take a treat from you! Lol.

12. Aiwa

An Arabic word for ‘Yes’.  For example, I saw a well-formatted and informative report done by a colleague: “Aiwa!! It’s an excellent report!”

13. Kharaban

An Arabic word means ‘something is broken’ or ‘someone is crazy’.  Example, Me: “Ohhh this POS machine is kharaban, please change it.”

14. Theek Hai, Bhai

It’s a Hindi/Urdu phrase that means ‘it’s okay, brother’.

15. Acha and Nahi

Both are Hindi/Urdu words, Acha means Yes while Nahi means No.

15 Must-Know Words When in Middle East - 52stirs.com
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There you have it, Lounger! If you find yourself visiting or working in the Middle East, those are the common and useful phrases you may bring. These phrases will help you quickly blend with the people and connect with them. Bonus: Bilkul is a Hindi/Urdu word for ‘sure,’ ‘absolutely,’ or ‘exactly, correct.’

I hope you enjoyed the list and learned something new! Let me know other phrases and where they’re from. Indeed, they will come in handy in the future!

15 Must-Know Words When in Middle East - 52stirs.com
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