What Countries Speak Arabic? (Full List Of Arabic Countries)

Nora Nasr


Nora Nasr

What Countries Speak Arabic? (Full List Of Arabic Countries)

Arabic is one of the largest living members of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers.

In most of the Arabic-speaking world, Modern Standard Arabic is still preferred in most media, workplaces, professional translation, and in the law, and Arabic is taught at all levels of school.

You can see why having a background in MSA might be important.

That said, nobody speaks it as their native language.

Arabic speakers today have their own native dialects, which are believed to be as many as 30 different dialects! However, the most common Arabic dialects are Egyptian, Moroccan, Maghrebi, Gulf, Saudi, Levantine, Iraqi, and Sudanese.

Today we’re going to give you a comprehensive list of all the countries where Arabic is spoken.

1. Algeria

Algeria's official languages are Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Berber, but the majority of people in Algeria speak Algerian Arabic , or Darja (دارجا) .

Algerian Arabic, like other Maghrebi Arabic dialects, has a Semitic vocabulary and initially originated in northern Algeria. It is part of the Maghrebi Arabic linguistic continuum and shares some mutual compatibility with Tunisian and Moroccan and is also highly influenced by French and Berber borrowings.

2. Bahrain

In Bahrain, the majority of Bahrainis speak Arabic, and over 55% of the population uses Arabic in their day-to-day communication. The ancient Aramaic, Syriac, and Akkadian languages have all had a considerable influence on the Bahrani Arabic dialect.

Here’s an interesting fact:

The name ‘Bahrain’ is derived from the Arabic term al-baḥrayn, which means “two seas.”

3. Chad

In Chad, Arabic and French are the official languages.

Chadian Arabic, sometimes called Shuwa Arabic, Baggara Arabic or Western Sudanic Arabic is a dialect of Arabic that a whopping 1.6 million people speak as their first language!

The Arabic language has become a lingua franca in Chad because of how important Arab traders and merchants who stay in one place are to the local communities.

4. Comoros

In Comoros, Arabic is one of the official languages spoken in the country, along with French, and Comorian.

For the people of Comoros, Arabic is a popular second language because the Quran is written in Arabic, and Sunni Islam is the most popular religion, with as many as 99% of the practicing believers.

5. Djibouti

Djibouti is an African country in the Horn of Africa and it is home to many different ethnic groups and languages, but Arabic and French are the two official languages spoken there.

About 59 thousand people in the area speak Djibouti Arabic, and about 3% of the people in Djibouti, or about 30,000 people, speak Arabic every day. Like in Comoros, the Arabic language is of great religious importance, as Djibouti's population is predominantly Muslim.

6. Egypt

In Egypt, sometimes called ‘Um al-Dunya’ (ام الدنيا), or ‘Mother of the world’ by Arabs, Egyptians, speak in Egyptian Arabic, or Masri  (مَصري). The Egyptian Arabic dialect is in the Afro-Asiatic family of languages that came from the Nile Delta in Lower Egypt.

Modern Standard Arabic and Egyptian Arabic have a lot in common! This makes Egyptian Arabic a great pick for those looking to learn Arabic, as it’s not hard to learn due to an abundance of online resources, and also other Arabic speakers generally have no trouble understanding the dialect.

7. Iraq

In Iraq, Arabic is the official language and the first language of about 30 million people.

Iraqi Arabic, sometimes also called Mesopotamian Arabic, is a group of related Arabic dialects that are spoken in the Mesopotamian basin of Iraq and the Iraqi diaspora communities.

Because Iraq is a multicultural country and has a long history, Aramaic, Akkadian, Persian, and Turkish words have made their way into Iraqi Arabic.

Historically though, before the Arab conquests brought Islam to Mesopotamia, the main languages were Aramaic and, before that, Akkadian. Both of these languages are Semitic, like Arabic.

8. Jordan

In Jordan, the official language is Modern Standard Arabic. However, Jordanianians, like other Arabs in the Levant region, speak Arabic in the Levantine dialect, or Jordanian Arabic to be more specific.

Jordanian Arabic comprises several varieties of Bedouin Arabic, and the Bedouin varieties of Arabic are further divided into two groups: Najdi Arabic and Shawi Arabic.

9. Kuwait

Kuwaitis speak Kuwaiti Arabic, which is a Gulf Arabic dialect, also known as Khaleeji, and it’s the main dialect that most people speak and use in Kuwaiti Arabic every day. It is very similar to the eastern Arabian coastal dialects spoken in neighboring countries. Kuwaiti Arabic is also close to the Iraqi dialect.

Did you know that because of immigration and trade in its early history, Kuwaiti Arabic borrowed a few words from Iranian dialects like Larestani, Khonji, Bastaki, and Gerashi, which also changed its vocabulary.

10. Lebanon

In Lebanon, most people in speak Lebanese Arabic, but like most Arabic countries, Modern Standard Arabic is used in the law, the media, and schools.

Lebanese Arabic belongs to the Levantine dialect group, the dialect is also known as Shami (اللهجة الشامية) and is spoken throughout the Levant region, which includes Syria, Jordan, and Palestine.

Arabs in the Levant region started speaking Arabic when the Levantine dialect was brought to the Levant in the 7th century AD, and these dialects slowly replaced the Northwest Semitic languages that were spoken there before!

11. Libya

In Libya, Libyan Arabic is mostly spoken in Libya and nearby countries, and the local Libyan Arabic dialects are spoken alongside MSA.

The Hilalian-Sulaimi migration and the migration of Arabs from al-Andalus to the Maghreb after the Reconquista are two of the most important historical events that have shaped the Libyan dialect. Also, Italian and, to a lesser extent, Turkish have affected Libyan Arabic.

12. Mauritania

Mauritania is an African country that is part of the Arab world in both culture and politics, it’s also a member of the Arab League, with Arabic as its official and national language.

In Mauritania, Hassaniya is the local spoken language, and it has many Berber words, which makes it very different from Modern Standard Arabic, which is used for formal communication.

13. Morocco

Moroccan Arabic, also called Darija (داريجا), is a dialect or group of dialects of Arabic that are spoken in Morocco. Moroccan Arabic is also a form of Maghrebi Arabic, and about 20 million people speak it in Morocco.

When it comes to government, education, and business, MSA and a mix of French and Moroccan Arabic are used. This is because Morocco has been ruled by a lot of different empires over the years, including the French and Spanish in the 20th century. Due to this, Darija has had a lot of different influences! This is also partly why many Arabs tend to find the Morrocan dialect intelligible.

14. Oman

In Oman, the official language is Arabic and there are several dialects of Arabic that are spoken, all of which are members of the Peninsular Arabic family.

Gulf Arabic is spoken in areas bordering the UAE, whereas Omani Arabic, which differs from Gulf Arabic spoken in eastern Arabia and Bahrain, is spoken in Central Oman, though with recent oil wealth and mobility, it has spread to other parts of the Sultanate.

Did you know that many terms and phrases from standard Arabic have found their way into Omani?

15. Palestine

In Palestine, Palestinians speak in Palestinian Arabic, which belongs to the Levant family.

Since Palestinian Arabic is spoken in the area where most Semitic languages are spoken, it has kept many typical Semitic words. Because of this, it is easy to figure out how Modern Standard Arabic words translate to Palestinian Arabic words.

Some even argue that Palestinian Arabic is the most like Modern Standard Arabic today!

16. Qatar

In Qatar, the official language is Arabic and the natives speak in the Qatari Arabic dialect, which is part of Gulf Arabic.

The Qatari dialect is derived from Nabati, a variety of classical Arabic that was influenced by the people who spoke it, and this makes the Qatari unique amongst the other Gulf dialects.

17. Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, nearly 500 million people speak Arabic, and it is the official language of the Kingdom.

There are three main groups of Saudi dialects: Hijazi, which is spoken on the western coast, in Jidda, Taif, and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina; Nijdi, which is spoken in and around Riyadh in the north-central part of the country; and Shargi, which is spoken in the oil-rich eastern part of the country. Also, some people speak Hijazi Arabic in parts of Jordan and Yemen.

18. Somalia

Along with Somali, Arabic is Somalia's official language.

The Somali language, which is mostly spoken in northern Somalia and along the coast, has taken a lot of words from Arabic, just like other African languages like Hausa and Swahili.

The Somali language is written with the Latin alphabet, though the Arabic alphabet and several Somali scripts like Borama, Osmanya, and Kaddare script are also used.

19. Sudan

In Sudan, before 2005, Arabic was the only language that could be spoken in the country.

Today though, the constitution says that Arabic and English are both the official languages of Sudan.

Sudanese Arabic is the name for the many different kinds of Arabic that are spoken in Sudan, Egypt, and parts of Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Chad. It is a very diverse language, and Sudanese Arabic sounds different in every part of the country and among almost every tribe. Researchers put Sudanese Arabic in this larger group of languages sometimes called Egypto-Sudanic Arabic.

20. Syria

Syrian Arabic is spoken across Syria and is part of the Levantine Arabic family.

The two most common dialects in Syria are Levantine in the west and Mesopotamian in the northeast.

Most Syrians speak a variety of dialects of Levantine Arabic at home, with Damascus Arabic being the most prestigious dialect in the media. The dialects of Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Tartous are more similar to one another than those of Aleppo's northern region. In the coastal mountains, you’ll find that various dialects are spoken.

21. Tunisia

Tunisian Arabic, or Tunisian, is a group of Maghrebi Arabic dialects that are spoken in Tunisia.

Along a continuum of dialects, Tunisian blends into Algerian Arabic and Libyan Arabic at the country's borders.

Modern Standard Arabic and Classical Arabic are very different from Tunisian Arabic in terms of morphology, syntax, pronunciation, and vocabulary. Like other Maghrebi dialects, its vocabulary is mostly Arabic, but it also has a lot of words from Berber and Latin.

22. United Arab Emirates

The main language of the United Arab Emirates is Arabic.

Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools, and the majority of Emiratis speak Emirati Arabic, a Gulf Arabic dialect similar to the dialects spoken in neighboring countries. These dialects have similar core features and some variation within each dialect, which is mostly due to geography.

Because Emirates is attempting to become more global, they have had to develop a more uniform style of communicating with foreigners. As a result, different Arabic dialects and foreign languages have affected Emirati Arabic.

23. Yemen

Last, but not least, the Yemeni language is a set of Arabic dialects spoken in Yemen, and Arabic is the country's main language. Yemeni Arabic is also spoken in Somalia and southwestern Saudi Arabia.

The Arabic of Yemen was influenced by Himyaritic, Modern South Arabian, and Old South Arabian, and has a lot of words from these languages in it. Most people think of it as a very traditional group of dialects because it has many classical features that aren't found in most Arabic-speaking countries!

Which Arabic dialect is the easiest to learn?

The truth is, there is no one answer to this question because everyone's learning talents, pace, and preferences vary.

However, the Egyptian and Levantine dialects are the easiest to learn for non-natives because of the abundance of resources available online.

That being said, which Arabic dialect to learn should be determined by you, your needs, and your interest! And not necessarily which will be the easiest to master.

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