Useful Arabic Greetings and Etiquette Practices While Vacationing in Dubai

Dubai is an exciting and ultra-modern city where visitors from all over the world are welcome. Although English is among the languages spoken by Dubai locals, it is beneficial to learn Arabic greetings and phrases to help connect with the people. Arabic etiquette should also be observed in order to respect the Islamic culture of Dubai locals.

Arabic Greetings and Phrases

Arabic Greetings and Phrases

Saying hello

The formal and common Arabic greeting for hello is as-salam alaykum. This translates to “peace be upon you”. The response is wa’alaykum as-salam, meaning “peace be upon you too.”

Ahlan is another common Arabic greeting used to say hello. Traditionally, two people greet each other by putting their hands together with a kiss on the cheeks as they say Ahlan. This mostly depends on the relationship between the two people.

Ladies only kiss ladies, while men only kiss men. While arriving in Dubai, you might hear Ahlan uttered as well, which means “welcome.” Another word used to mean welcome is Marhaba.

Another Arabic greeting is the phrase Kayf halak (said to a man) or Kayfa halik (said to a woman). The phrases translate to “how are you?” The response to this is Ana bekhair, Shukran, which translates to “I’m fine, thank you.”

Time Specific Arabic Greetings

You can change your greeting according to the time of day. For “Good morning?”, the Arabic greeting is Sabah al-khayr. The common reply is Sabah an-noor. This translates to morning or light. The speaker can also alter their reply to other phrases like “morning of beauty” or “morning of joy”.

To say good evening, the Arabic greeting is Misa’al-khayr, to which the reply is Misa’an-noor or simply an-noor.

To wish someone a good night, the Arabic equivalent is Tisbah ‘ala khayr. The translation is “wake up to the good”. The response to this is wa Anta or anti min ahloo, which translates to “and may you be one of the good”.

Conversation Phrases

For daily conversations, you will need to learn phrases to say words such as ‘please’ or ‘thank you’. Below are other Arabic phrases to use for your trip to Dubai:

When trying to shop for something, you might want to know how much the items cost. The phrase for ‘how much does the item cost’ in Arabic is kam yukalif?

When agreeing or disagreeing, you will need to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The Arabic word for yes is naam while the word for no is la.

To say ‘please’, the Arabic phrase while addressing a man in min fadlak and min fadlik while addressing a woman.

To excuse yourself, the Arabic phrase is alma’derah and for ‘sorry’, the Arabic word is aesef.

To say ‘thank you’, the Arabic word is shukran.

Arabic Etiquette Practices

Arabic Etiquette Practices

To avoid any unpleasant incidents, it is necessary to adhere to Arabic etiquette practice so as not to offend the people or break the law. Below are some of the etiquette practices observed in Dubai:

Arabic Manners

Manners are an essential part of any society and in the Emirates, courtesy and hospitality are highly valued. In Arabic culture, it is considered rude to point at someone. Among other practices include using the right hand to offer greetings, accept, or give something.


Swearing is intolerable in Dubai and can result in fines of up to AED 10,000 or jail time. This also applies to swearing on social media. Rude hand gestures are not acceptable as well.

Clothing in Dubai

Dressing conservatively is highly recommended especially when visiting public places such as shopping malls or government buildings. Wear clothes that cover the cleavage, knees, and shoulders.

At swimming pools or beaches, bikinis are allowed, but not G-strings. For men, going topless is only allowed at the beach.

When visiting the mosque, both men and women must wear long trousers and cover their arms. Women are also required to wear a headscarf.

Couple Behavior

When visiting Dubai as a couple, public displays of affection are frowned upon. These include kissing and holding hands. You and our partner must be mindful of how you conduct yourselves in public.

Drugs and Alcohol

Drugs are prohibited in Dubai, with a jail sentence of between 4 to 20 years. Although it is okay to drink alcohol in Dubai, being drunk and acting rowdy is not acceptable.

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While visiting Dubai, make use of the Arabic greetings and phrases to connect with the people. Also, remember to observe etiquette for an overall great time in the city.

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