Posts Tagged ‘Arabic Speaking Countries’
The global recession has had as much impact on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as anywhere else in the world, but there have been some recent signs of recovery. Of course, when most of us think of the Middle East economy, we tend to immediately associate it with the oil industry, and rising prices have certainly proved to be a boost for these areas, it’s going to take a little more to ensure the recovery continues.
The oil industry does, obviously, have a significant impact on the entire area by generating most of the wealth and moving the labor. Most of these countries have realized that this isn’t enough, though, and they are looking into ways to really start diversifying their economies.
How Much Of It Is Oil?
In the Middle East, particularly in the Arabian Gulf, the reliance on one sector (oil) still remains high. In Saudi Arabia, oil makes up about 80% of the budget revenues and 90% of their export earnings. Kuwait is even higher, and oil is 95% of their revenues and export earnings. Since this leaves economies open to the fluctuations in supply and demand, it can make economic planning something of a challenge. This is why some countries have really started to invest more in developing other sectors, like finance, tourism, reconstruction, and education.
Change and Growth
There have been a number of social and political events in this region over the past few years that have had an impact on the economies in the region. This, though, has led to some political and economic reconstruction that is believed to boost the region as a key player in the international arena.
The windfall from the higher oil prices has given many of these countries the revenues they need to fund some ambitious infrastructure programs, and even some of the non-oil exporters in the region have been able to attract more foreign direct investment to accelerate their current economic growth. The medium to long term outlook is good, but it depends a lot on how the structural reforms are implemented.
What Does the Future Hold?
The recent changes in the region have really had a huge impact on the region, politically, socially, and economically. The Arab Spring has dawned and the global financial crisis had weighed as heavily on the region as anywhere else in the world, but there are still strong indications of recovery. As these countries start to diversify their economies, there will be some new opportunities even more growth.
Really understanding what’s going on in the region will require understanding more than the numbers behind the economic projections. An understanding of the social and cultural factors will also be important. Effective Arabic lessons are an effective way to start getting into the culture, but it’s also important to look at the region’s history and track the reforms that are happening all the time.
A trip to Egypt!!
It’s no wonder why one would want to visit Egypt. Between the ancient temples and monuments, the world- famous Pyramids, the beautiful red- sea and a unique culture and language, Egypt is one of the world’s great marvels. Here are some things to consider before you embark on your journey:
Climate: Egypt is hot, like Las Vegas or Arizona which is why it’s not recommended to go from June- August. If you plan to visit in the spring, temperatures are nice; however it can be very windy. September- February is quite possibly the best time to go, but it’s also high season for tourists.
Passports: A passport and visa are required to enter Egypt. Tourists can obtain a renewable 30-day tourist visa on arrival at an Egyptian airport for a $15 fee. For more information, visit the Arab Republic of Egypt Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Money: The conversion rate is $1= 6.03 Egyptian pounds. ATM cards can also be used in major cities, as can Visa and Mastercards. Carry some extra cash at all times for tipping. Keep you money close to your body or in a safe area to avoid getting pick pocketed at all times.
Culture: Egypt is a Muslim country, so naturally there are things you need to respect about the people and culture before you go. Public Affection is a no- no. No kissing in public. If you are a woman, don’t be over- friendly to men and wear sunglasses to avoid direct eye contact with men so you aren’t receiving unwanted attention. Also women’s shoulders and upper arms should be covered. Loose pants or long skirts are your best bet and high heels are not recommended (mostly because of all the walking you’ll be doing).
Shopping: Use bartering skills. Many of the items people will try to sell you will be 3 times the amount they are worth. Be okay with walking away and saying “no thanks.”
Taxi: Ask the front desk at the hotel/restaurant for a taxi. These people know taxi drivers they trust.
Water: Drink bottled water and drink a lot of it.
Language: Arabic is the official language of Egypt. You can learn the Arabic alphabet through our website or simply brush up on common phrases. Egyptians will appreciate you trying to speak their language.
Hi! ……. Salam!
How are you? ……. Kaifa haloka/ haloki ( female)
Good bye! ……. Ma’a salama
I’m lost ……. Ada’tu tareeqi!
How much is this? ……. Kam howa thamanoh? (th as in bath)
Laws: Like in America, it’s illegal to drink in the streets and you can only drink at places that have the equivalent of an Egyptian liquor license. Don’t take any photos of military sites or officials and respect the Muslim culture.
The great thing about traveling to other places, especially Egypt is that you’ll learn a whole new way of life, habits and a different mentality. While respecting the differences from your own culture you will gain a great appreciation and passion for life.
Arabic is now the 6th most spoken language in the world and is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide. Arabic started off as a language that was only spoken by a small population. Nomadic tribes would travel around the Arabian Peninsula and speak Arabic, a language they were very proud of. Prose, poetry and oral literature were common ways to communicate through Arabic in those times.
Arabic is a “Semitic,” language and is most closely related to Aramaic and Hebrew. Other Semitic languages include Maltese, Mehri, Phoenician and Tigrinya. Semitic languages are based on a consonantal root system. Every word in Arabic is derived from one or another root word (most likely a verb).
By the 7th Century A.D., Arabic started to spread to the Middle East as many people started to convert to Islam. During this time of religious conversions, Arabic replaced many South Arabian languages, most of which are no longer commonly spoken or understood languages.
Arabic is the official language of many countries in the Middle East such as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
There are three forms of Arabic; Qur’anical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and Colloquial Arabic. Qur’anical Arabic is not used in conversation or in non- religious writing and Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of the Arabic world. Colloquial Arabic refers to Arabic that is spoken with a dialect.
There are more than 30 different forms of Colloquial or Spoken Arabic. Some of the dialects that are the most common are Egyptian Arabic, Algerian Arabic, Sudanese Arabic and North Levantine Arabic. Some dialects can be so strong that although people are speaking the same language it’s hard to communicate. When this happens, Arabic speakers revert back to speaking the Modern Standard Arabic. Modern Arabic is used for TV, films, plays, poetry and in books. Arabic Courses learnt at the Arab Academy is taught in the Modern Standard form.
Arabic is a language that can be transformed to adapt to new words that need to be created because of science or technology. However, the written Arabic language has seen no change in the alphabet, spelling or vocabulary in at least 4 millenniums.
What are the main Arabic Dialects?
Students wishing to learn Arabic -especially colloquial Arabic- are faced with so many options and dialects. Whereas Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the same throughout the Arab world, the dialects vary according to the geographical location. The further away the countries, the greater the variation between the dialects. In a broad sense there is a wide difference between the dialects of eastern countries (Arabian Peninsula) and dialects of western countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and western Libya). Dialects in the Middle East, may be broadly classified as follows:
- Dialects of Egypt and Sudan
- Dialects of the Arabian Peninsula
- Dialects of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine
- Dialects of Iraq
- Dialects of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and western Libya
Within each category, further sub-classification takes place, depending amongst other factors – on the location, level of education, and degree of urbanization.
- How Many People Use Arabic Today?
Arabic is the native language of 220 million people living in 22 Arab countries. It was declared an official language of the UN in January 1974. The 6 official languages at the UN are: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Arabic is also the language in which Islam’s holy book, the Quran, was revealed. Hence, it is the liturgical language of the nearly one billion Muslims around the world, who comprise 20% of the world’s population. Muslims today are spread across more than 60 countries.
- What is Classical Arabic?
- What is Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)?
- What is Colloquial Arabic?
- What Has Made it Possible to preserve Classical Arabic for so Long?
The fact that a language has survived for fourteen hundred years, over such a vast area of land, and spoken by so many different people is a miracle in its own right.
What has stood against the fragmentation of Classical Arabic into different languages?
The presence of the Classical Arabic ‘model’ document – the sacred Quran. The Quran has driven Muslims to learn Arabic; it has been read, recited, analyzed and studied by all Muslims throughout the centuries. The establishment of codified rules for Classical Arabic and the great emphasis given to mastering these rules were instrumental factors in the continued survival of the language.
Holidays in Arabic Countries
There are a number of holidays and traditions throughout the Arabic world that have a history going back many centuries. Different countries may have different ways to celebrate these occasions, but the meaning and purpose is generally the same. Whether there is a religious or spiritual element of the holiday or it is a time to enjoy being with family and friends, these festivities and traditions are a great way to experience the Arabic culture.
Two of the major holidays (Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha) follow some of the most important traditions in the year. The celebrations are a time to reflect and develop spiritually, and take the time to be close to loved ones.
In the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast Breaking) is celebrated after spending the previous month of Ramadan fasting. While celebrations may be different from region to region, it is usually a three-day period that begins on the first day of the month Shawwal. On the day of Eid people will get together in the morning, either in a nice outdoor location or at a mosque, for the Eid prayer. After that they will head off to meet with family and friends for some wonderful meals and some gift-giving.
Ramadan directly precedes Eid al-Fitr with a month of fasting and spiritual reflection. If a person is physically able (there are special rules for those who may be infirm or have other medical needs), they are required to fast from sunup to sundown every day of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Evening meals are usually held with the family or the community where you can also share prayers and spiritual reflection, and many cities decorate their streets with lights or other ornaments to celebrate the month.
The fasting during Ramadan is about more than just going without food and water, though. It is about purifying both body and soul. It is an opportunity to refrain from speaking ill of others, listening to obscenities, and seeing the wrong things. This is also a great chance to do charitable acts for others, and go out of your way to help people in need.
The Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) is a religious holiday that commemorates Abraham and Ishmael’s trial of obedience. It is held on the tenth day of the last month of the year, just after the end of the Hajj. This is also generally a three-day celebration that starts with the Eid prayer in the morning. During the holiday people will visit friends and family, but mostly it is a time to show that you are also willing to make sacrifices.
Hajj takes place in the 12th month of the year, and it is the time for the pilgrimage to Mecca. This is one of the more famous traditions in the Arabic world. Millions of Muslims make the journey to Mecca every year, and the sheer enormity of it is fascinating. Pilgrims have the opportunity to examine and renew their spiritual lives and take part in a tradition that is centuries upon centuries old. While access to Mecca is restricted to Muslims only, there are some great documentaries that can give others an impression of what it’s really like.
Experience for Yourself
Participating in some of these holidays and traditions is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you find yourself with a chance to experience something like this, don’t pass it by. If you have to learn Arabic online before going, or if you have to start a special savings account, it will all be worth it. These cultural traditions and holidays have an incredible history, and this is a chance to see what they are really like.
Trip to Umm Kulthum Museum
Last November, our on-campus students had a memorable trip to Umm Kulthum Museum located in one of Cairo’s most prominent districts, Zamalik. This small museum is solely dedicated to the legendary icon Umm Kulthum (1898 – 1975). Most Arabs share a deep attachment to the voice of “Kawkab elSharq” or “Voice of the East” as she is called; she is arguably the Arab world’s most treasured singer from the 1940s through the present and regarded as the greatest female singer in Arab music history.
Umm Kulthum’s stardom peaked during the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, where listeners all around the Arab World used to avidly wait for her 6-hour concerts, broadcast on the first Thursday of the month. These concerts cleared the streets of Cairo as people made their way home and to cafes to listen. She died in 1975 of heart failure and her funeral was packed by millions of mourners who carried her body to the mosque of al-Sayyid Husayn.
Learning the Arabic Language through music is a great method to pick up the proper pronunciation and get to know the Arabic culture. Listening to Arabic songs and singing along them is a fun and amusing way to widen from your vocabulary list. You can download one of Umm Kulthum’s epic songs like Enta Omri – (“You Are the love of my life”), Sirat el Houb (“Tale of Love”) or Alf Leila wa Leila (“One Thousand and One Nights”), learn its lyrics and enjoy!
Arabic Speaking Countries of the World
Learning Arabic can open up doors for you all over the world. Currently, Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world, and is the official language of over 20 countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Some estimates say that more than 200 million people call Arabic their first language and each of their countries are home to a fascinating cultural heritage.
Just of few of the countries that list Arabic as the official language include:
- United Arab Emirates
There are also many countries that don’t list Arabic as the official language, but large portions of the population still speak it as their first language. Beyond those countries, Arabic is also an official language of groups like the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the African Union.
Seeing It for Yourself
These countries all have an amazing history, and their cultural influence is felt throughout the world. When you start taking Arabic lessons, a major part of the world can open up for you. Many of these nations are fast-growing market for international trade and travel, and when you can speak the language, you will find that your entire experience with the country will change. You will be able to speak with real people and see for yourself what it’s like in these countries.
Where would you go if so many options were suddenly open to you? Would you see the pyramids in Egypt, or would you tour some of the famous locations in Israel? The people, art, music, food and entertainment in these countries are very diverse, and you could spend a lifetime just becoming familiar with one of those cultures. The first step to immersing yourself in these countries and their cultures is to build a foundation with the language, and the next one is to go there and see it all yourself.
Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat was the third President of Egypt, serving from 15 October 1970 until his assassination by fundamentalist army officers on 6 October 1981.
As president he led Egypt in the October War of 1973 to liberate Egyptian territory occupied by Israel. Afterwards he engaged in negotiations with Israel, culminating in the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. This won him the Nobel Peace Prize but also generated considerable domestic opposition, especially among fundamentalist Muslim groups, that eventually led to his assassination.
While learning Arabic, you will learn more about the history of the Arab nations and their leaders. You will be able to explore the Arabic culture and politics through interactive Arabic lessons tutored by native Arabic-speaking teachers.
Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, community centers, etc. or at mosques. Gifts are frequently given to children and immediate relatives; it is also common in some cultures for children to be given small sums of money by adult relatives or friends (3idiya). Children will wear their new clothes and go out to amusement parks, gardens or public courtyards. Family gatherings involve cooking and eating all kinds of Egyptian food, but the item most associated with Eid al-Fitr are Kahk, which are cookies filled with nuts and covered with powdered sugar.
On such occasions, students learning Arabic abroad (in Egypt) usually get to indulge into Arabic culture. They live those traditions themselves and have the chance to eat the yummy Kahk. For those who take Arabic lessons online, they will get to explore more the Arab communities and their people.