How to Say "Hello" in Arabic

by Contributing Writer
A teacher demonstrating positive encouragement while her student solves a problem.

A teacher demonstrating positive encouragement while her student solves a problem.

As peaceful relations grow in the Middle East, it's becoming more important to be able to communicate effectively. Whether you're traveling there for business or pleasure, knowing even the most simple phrases in Arabic can make your travels more convenient. What better way to endear yourself to a new culture than by speaking at least a little of their language?

Take note of the gender of the person to whom you will be speaking. Greetings and etiquette differ greatly depending on whether you are speaking to a woman, a man, an adult or a child.

Say, "Hello" by looking the person in the eye, smiling and saying the Arabic word, "Marhaba." This means"hello" in Arabic.

Consider introducing yourself. Say, "My name is _______" by continuing the eye contact, and saying, "Ismee _______". Insert your name into the blank.

Initiate physical contact, such as a handshake only if prompted by the person you're speaking with. Many traditional Arab speakers view certain types of physical contact as taboo and you don't want to risk offending them.

Tip

  • Always take cues from the person with whom you are speaking. If they speak more loudly, or more slowly, follow their lead.

Warning

  • Many people that speak languages other than English are at least able to speak a little of it. They may do so with a heavy accent, or get things wrong completely. Feel free to correct them, gently, by offering suggestions as to what they can say. Never tell them they're wrong; simply offer alternatives.

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