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Languages spoken in Dubai

02 March 2020

Dubai is a cosmopolitan city with different cultures, and it attracts more tourists with every passing year. Therefore, speaking multiple languages becomes all the more important for residents in Dubai.

Do you need to speak Arabic language in Dubai?

Arabic is the official language of the UAE, while English is the most spoken language. Arabic is used for both written and verbal communication in Dubai. Government offices and government affairs are conducted in Arabic, and the rules and laws of the country are also published in Arabic. The natives of the UAE, called Emiratis, mostly speak in Arabic. Although you can carry on by just speaking in English, you will be more welcomed by the Emiratis if you learn Arabic.

You will find most of the road signs boards etc., in both Arabic and English. But, you should know that other than in Dubai, if you plan to visit other cities or towns in the UAE, English is not so common, and most rural people do not understand English.

major languages spoken in Dubai

Public schools teach in Arabic usually, with English being the second language. But, most private schools teach in English or other foreign languages.

Do people speak English in Dubai?

English is the most widely spoken language in Dubai, particularly for the purposes of business, trade and tourism. About 75% of the population in Dubai are expatriates, majority of who speak in English or in their native language. Some important contracts like employment contracts or rental agreements are written in both Arabic and English languages. So English is used in written documents too. Also, most private schools in Dubai teach in English or other foreign languages.

What non-Arabic languages are spoken in Dubai, other than English?

There are several different nationals working in Dubai, so you are sure to find someone who speaks your language.

For instance, if you can speak a South Asian language like Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil and Urdu, you can easily communicate in Dubai. Majority of expats in Dubai are from South Asia, and they speak their native language.

With more than thirty percent of UAE’s population being from India, majority of the expatriates from India and Pakistan have made Hindi and Urdu as their local language, while several other languages from Philippines, Indonesia and Bengali are also common.

These are the most common non-Arabic languages spoken in Dubai apart from English:

Malayalam, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Gujarati, Sindhi, Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali, Pashto, Balochi, Tulu, Tagalog, Kannada, Sinhala, and Chinese.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries.

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