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“There’s no one to practice with.” “Most of the people here are expats from India and Pakistan who don’t speak Arabic.” “I started a course in Modern Standard Arabic through work and found it to be too much after the first few lessons.” As I concluded after living in South Korea, it simply astounds me that so many people opt to live in a part of the world long term without reaching even a basic level in the local language. Now I get that when you look at the demographics of a place like Qatar, it’s easy to just stick with English, stay in your expat bubble and live the Friday brunch lifestyle.

The stats don’t offer much incentive either: Around of the population is non-Emirati.

As an example, I was just recently buying a shwerma (Syrian sandwhich wrap) near my apartment and got chatting with a Qatari and his Tunisian friend in Arabic here in Doha. After a while chatting, not only did the Qatari guy want to hang out with me later but he also went so far as to offer me a in his company and actually wanted to help finance and staff my own Arabic project as well. All because I took the first step and greeted him in Arabic (with a mouth full of shwerma)!

I’ve experienced this kind of welcoming generosity and kindness time and time again in random encounters throughout the Gulf (of course I’ve met a few rich arseholes too but they’re everywhere in the world so who cares).

The problem is that unless your company’s organizing it and picking up the bill, the courses tend to run in the thousands of dollars for short after-hours intensives and you can’t even be sure that you’re getting a quality teacher.

Also most courses in the Gulf that are run through universities, language institutes and religious groups will teach you Modern Standard or Classical Arabic (I explained why this is wrong here).

Learn Arabic in Qatar " data-medium-file="https://i0com/ Before I came to Doha I met expats who had lived here for many years and never learned a word of Arabic all the while making excuses for why they couldn’t.

fit=600,337&ssl=1" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-4696" src="https://i0com/ resize=600,337&ssl=1" alt="Learn Arabic in Qatar" width="600" height="337" srcset="https://i0com/ resize=300,169&ssl=1 300w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" data-recalc-dims="1" / *** One of the things I hear a lot from expats living in the Gulf (places like Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi) is that they really want to learn Arabic but that it’s too challenging here.

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This is very important for anyone serious about learning Arabic as there are a lot of dialects and it’s good to get that wide exposure to as many different varieties as possible while you’re learning.For this reason, I highly recommend you use italki if you’re an expat living in the Gulf and wanting conversational Arabic lessons.When you consider the hundreds or thousands of dollars you’ll pay for class tuition in Qatar or the UAE (not to mention the hassle of transport if you don’t own a car), the many Arabic conversation partners and teachers you can connect with via Skype for as little as an hour is a no-brainer.I’m getting back into my italki lessons for Moroccan Arabic this week and will be hitting up some areas of Doha where I know there are Moroccans to practice with. What’s experience been like trying to learn Arabic here?Check out my Arabic self-study resource recommendations here and here, and some great ways to improve Arabic listening skills here.If you live and work in Qatar or the UAE, I’d wager you almost certainly have Arab coworkers from places like Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon in your office.Many of the construction and hospitality workers in Doha and Dubai are native Arabic speakers as well who are always more than happy to practice Arabic with anyone (and would definitely welcome a few riyal for extra help).While it’s definitely a good idea to focus on just one dialect at a time, you’ll want to get used to the sound of the different varieties early on.There are loads of options for in-person study in Qatar and the UAE.I can understand that for many people it’s a harsh and frustrating place to live, making the expat bubble a very tempting comfort zone to stay in.When you do see local Arab nationals in these places, they’re usually speeding around in their enormous 4×4’s or shopping in expensive stores.


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