Arabic belongs to the Semitic language family and the earliest records of this language date back to as early as the 6th century BC. Arabic now ranks 6th in the world’s league table of languages, with an estimated 250,000,000 native speakers in 2005. There are 6 official languages used in the United Nations, and Arabic is one of them.
The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, Arabic: كتاب ألف ليلة و ليلة Kitāb ‘Alf Layla wa-Layla, also known as The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night, 1001 Arabian Nights, Arabian Nights, The Nightly Entertainments or simply The Nights, is a medieval Middle-Eastern literary epic which tells the story of Scheherazade, a Sassanid Queen, who must tell a series of stories to her malevolent husband, King Shahryar, to delay her execution. The stories are told over a period of one thousand and one nights, and every night she ends the story with a suspenseful situation, forcing the King to keep her alive for another day. The individual stories were created over many centuries, by many people and in many styles, and they have become famous in their own right. Notable examples include Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.
If you are willing to make business in the Middle-East, it is important to understand Arabic business culture. No matter how good your Arabic language skills, neglecting the customs of the region can be just as detrimental to your business. In Arab culture, people are conservative in front of others. Unlike American culture, you aren’t expected to bring a gift of food or drink for your host. One of the major differences between American and Arabic business transactions is the idea of “saving face”. Business dealings in the Middle East tend to carry a more sensitive and humble tone.
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Here is a list of 26 countries where Arabic is spoken:
Basic Arabic Phrases:
Assalaam Alaikum – Peace be up on you
To which the reply is:
Wa Alaikum assalaam – And peace be upon you
This phrase will be used in many different contexts when meeting people.
Marhabbah – hello
to which the reply is:
Marhabbteen – hello
This is probably the equivalent of saying hi in the UK
Naam – yes
Aywa – yeah/ok
La – no
Min fudluk – please
Shoo? – what?
Shoofi mafi? – what’s up? or what’s the matter?
Shoo hada? – what is this?
Mafi mushkil – no problem
Itfudul – by my guest / my pleasure
0 – siffr
1 – wahid
2 – tnain
3 – thalatha
4 – arba
5 – khumsah
6 – settah
7 – sabaa
8 – thamaaneeya
9 – tissaa
10 – asharah