3 Types of Expatriates in Saudi Arabia – based upon Arabic Skills

Speaking the language of the country in which you are staying has its own charm. Same is the case with speaking Arabic in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is home to many expatriates and there are three types of expatriates in the country based on their Arabic skills.

Bedouin is a very difficult dialect in Arabic. According to a tradition which existed over 1400 years ago, parents used to send their children into the desert to live with a Bedouin family. They did this so that the child could have a stronger hold on the Arabic language and improve his language skills.[irp]

1-The first type is the ones who although have been living in Saudi Arabia for a long time but cannot speak Arabic although they might be able to understand some words. Most of these expatriates are the people working on high-end jobs as they don’t have to communicate with those Saudis who don’t speak English.

Many expatriates do not learn Arabic, instead, use English as a medium. This is because they do not try to learn Arabic or the natives are content with communicating in English with them even though it might be difficult for them.

This is rather disappointing as one would think that when the Saudi people go abroad they learn English to communicate with the people around them, then why should the people not learn Arabic when they come to Saudi Arabia to communicate with the people around them?

2-The second type is the ones who can speak some words and make the other person understand what they are trying to say in Arabic. These are normal people working in offices along with other Saudis. Since they need to communicate with Saudis, they learn some Arabic words to communicate with them.

3-The third type can shock even the natives when it comes to speaking in Arabic. They are fluent in speaking and have different dialects depending on where they have learned it from. Most of these expatriates are those who have been living in Saudi Arabia since ages.

Similar is the case of a Filipino worker who works at a gas station in Riyadh. The worker welcomes the customers with Bedouin phrases. On having a conversation with this man, one realizes that he speaks fluent Arabic in the Bedouin dialect which is quite impressive.

This Filipino worker learned Arabic in a similar way as the tradition of Arab families 1400 years ago. He used to work as a camel herder for a Bedouin in the desert and the Bedouin used to talk with him in Arabic for several hours. This made the Filipino master the language in two years.

Many expatriate workers learn Arabic in a similar way. They need to communicate with different people at all times and not many of them know how to speak English. The natives talk to the expatriates about different things in Arabic and this way they are able to pick up some words and with time they are pretty much used to the language and start speaking fluently.

We need to introduce our language to the people who visit our country. We need to speak our language with pride so that the people are impressed by it the way they are with English. Arabic is a beautiful language and people must at least try to learn it when they start living in the Kingdom.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Steve has vast experience in writing about Saudi rules, regulations, guides, and procedures.