Arabic Language

Caravan-Serai Traveler’s Handbook

The Arabic Language & Alphabet

Arabic is the language of most of the countries we visit. Classical Arabic is used in all writing and is understood and spoken by all Arabs. Newspapers and TV news use Classical Arabic. Colloquial Arabic is only spoken (not written) and varies from country to country. In North Africa Arabic is influenced by native languages. For instance, in Egypt, the accent is changed. Therefore, spoken communication can be difficult between people from different Arab countries.

Arabic is read from right to left. Listed below are some common expressions in Arabic spoken in Yemen. Words are gendered, having different endings for “male” and “female”.

Arabic alphabet


ah-len wa sah-len: welcome, formal greeting

salaam aleikum: hello (peace be upon you)

wa aleikum as-salaam: hello (and to you peace) — response

ma sa-laa-ma: good-bye (“Go in Peace”)

sa-bah al hair: good morning

sabah-an-noor: good morning — response

kee-fik: how are you

aiwa: yes

la: no

shu-kran: thank you

af-wan: you’re welcome

wain ___?: where is _______?

wain ha-mmam?: where is the bathroom?

kit-eer gha-li: too expensive

ashti ah-roo-h (illa) ____: I want to go (to) ____

dok-tor: doctor


1: wa-hid

2: ith-nain

3: tha-la-tha

4: ar-baa

5: kham-sa

6: sit-tah

7: sa-ba-ah

8: tha-man-i-ah

9: tis-sah

10: ah-sha-ra


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