In Saudi Arabia? Time to Learn More Arabic!



My earlier post on learning Saudi Arabic was both popular as well as stimulated some controversial discussion.  However it showcased to me that many readers do indeed have an interest in learning more about the Arabic language.  I am going to share some more arabic words and ph

rases but first I’d like to inform readers about a book that is very useful for those who are in Saudi Arabia and specifically working in the medical sector.  The book is “Arabic for Hospital Staff.”  It is written by Dr. M.F. Siddiqui who (at least at the time of publication) is the Chief of Surgery, Former Medical Director of Mohd. Dossary Hospital located in Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia.  This book was published in 1989 and has Ministry of Information number 1711 dated 24.5.1409 (hirji).  It also states that any correspondence in regards to this publication should be directed to:

Dr. M.F. Siddiqui FRCS (Eng.), FICS

PO Box 335

Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Tel: (03) 8945524


The book is broken down in chapters which cover Anatomical Diagrams; Dialogues for Nursing Staff; Dialogues for Doctors; Dialogues for Technicians and Auxiliary Staff; Common Non Medical Words and Phrases; and Medical Vocabulary.  Words and phrases are provided in English, Arabic and the phonetic transcription.


Now after introducing you to this unique book, let me share some additional words to add to ones arabic vocabulary: 

arabic_letters___design_by_artiebiboBody Parts:

Head:     Ra’as

Neck:  Onuq

Face: Wajh

Hair: Sha’er

Eye:  Ain

Ear:  Ozun

Nose: Anif

Lips:  Ash-sheftain

Mouth:  Fumm

Tongue:  Lisan

Abdomen:  Batin

Arms: Zera’

Leg/2 Legs/Legs:  Rejl/Rejlain/Rejool

Fingers/Finger:  Asabe’/Usba’

Toes:  Asabe al-qadam


Now for a few phrases/words that are useful to know:

Are you frightened:  Hal inta kha’ef?

I am fine:  Ana Bekhair

Pain:  Alam

Nausea:  Ghathayan

Will not hurt:  Lan to’zy

Medicine:  Dawa

Pill (tablet):  Habbah

Injection:  Huqneh

59 Responses

  1. Hi there …

    I think you have being doing a very good job in educating people about Saudi Arabia. I’m impressed at times!

    Since you are talking about Khobar, kinda, there is a great adult private Arabic school in Khobar. It started/owned by a young Saudi women who caters to non-Saudis (both men and women) living in the area and it has been a great success on a small scale ..

    Thanks again ..

  2. Great post and reference book!

    Now to study the vocabulary. (I only recognized 3 body parts and 1 phrase-too much beach vocabulary in my repertoire)

    How about a few psychiatry phrases anyone?:-) Like:

    What brings you here today?
    How do you feel about that?
    You want to kill your (insert family member)? Do you have plan? Have you chosen a weapon?
    Let’s meet next week at the same time.:-) :-) :-)

    Ana maboula shouiya:-)

  3. Carol, why don’t you do some of these as a video blog so we can hear the pronunciation? (:

  4. Saleh – thank you. Can you provide any more info on the school? It sounds very good.

    Chiara – can’t imagine those phrases commonly used in KSA…even in a psychiatrists office.

    Julie – okay, call me a neophytye…can you educate me on a video blog and how one is made?

  5. Very useful for people learning Arabic but can I comment on the word for “Neck”?

    Most saudis use the word رقبة (Ruqbah) for neck. There is nothing wrong with yours it’s just the dialect.

  6. Thanks Mohamed! I appreciate knowing specifically for the Saudi dialect.

  7. Mohamed is right. I first learned that one when my wife talked about “Ruqbah hamra”. lol Saudi words for an American term.

  8. LOL, that is funny Abu Sinan, especially given the color of your avatar:)

  9. yeah…a video would be good…then we can listen to Carol and see how well she has mastered the “back of the throat” sounds etc…hee hee. Come on Carol…let us hear.

  10. his reminds me how badly I want to learn Japanese and French.. wish I can attend to a school in the Eastern Region that can help me with them?

  11. nice list carol:)

    I’d just like to point out that there is no actual word for toes, they are foot fingers, so my husband uses the english word fingers for both his “hand” fingers and “foot” fingers. An endless source of irritation to me lol!

  12. Where do you live Dw?

    I’m sure King Saud University in Riyadh has Japanese and French language courses.

  13. A wonderful post again:)
    1. Neck: Onuq “raqabah” too. The majority of Arabs use “Raqabah”; however “Onuq” is Classical Arabic.

    2. Nose: Anif. “Khushom” is more popular among Arab speakers. Anif is Classical Arabic. Some Arabs do say in their daily conversation “anif’ and find “Khushom” a weird word:)

    3. Lips: Ash-sheftain. The /ain/ suffix is always used as the marker for pairs when they are in the object position. ” In the subject position we add /aan/, so lips would be “Ash-sheftan”. Most arabs, though, colloquially speaking, say “Shafayef” which is the plural form. stylistically and grammatically speaking, this is completely wrong because a person has only 2 lips and not 3 or 4. However, most Arabs say the plural form when speaking. In writing, usually Arabs will use the correct form “Sheftain” or “Sheftan”. The /ash/ is just the definite article, and is not part of the word. It’s originally /al/ but do to assimilation it became /ash/

    4. Legs Legs/Legs:
    Again, Rejlain = 2 legs, and Rejool = more than 2 legs. It’s not uncommon for an Arab to say to a person “Rejoolk” whhen s/he actually mean “your 2 legs” The /k/ phoneme at the end of “Rejool” refers to the second-person singular pronoun (your legs)

    5. Arms: Zera’ . Actually the first sound is not /z/; the initial sound is /th’/ it is pronounced exactly as the English determiner “the”, so the word would be (the-ira’) This is in classical Arabic, and some Arabs also use it while speaking. We say also “ydd” for singular, and “ayadi” for plural. I mentioned a short note in the previous post about the phonological differences among Saudis; it might help in clarifying the difference between /z/ and /the/ sounds.

    P.S. Where are you, Aafke?:) LOL, perhaps studying AmericanBedu’s curriculum (Class 2). I’m wondering, what do you think AmericanBedu of giving tests to your Arabic learners? (I’m willing to write the tests for you:) )…

    Peace & Fun to all.

  14. Mohammad, I live in Al Ahsa. Being entangled with work doesn’t leave me with a lot of time to spare to accomodate to Riyadh. I really hoped for something in the Eastern region because it would be feasible to attend to every other day.

  15. Khalid,

    I accept your offer and challenge you to prepare a quiz which I can either add to our quiz page or upload as its own post!

    Perhaps I should create a separate page titled “Arabic Language?”

    Aafke can have her Creme of the Crop and I’ll have Language (smile)

  16. I used to study at the women’s community college in Riyadh. It had four or five levels of Arabic (Modern Standard). The courses were excellent.

    Maybe the place is still in operation. It was located acros the street from the TV tower, on the north side, I think.

    I still recommend as an on-line learning tool for MSA.

  17. Ah sorry to hear that Dw. My uni (KFUPM) is technology oriented so the only language course you’ll get there is English. ;(

  18. American Bedu-oh oh -if these stock phrases are not used in psychiatry I’d better brush up on standard medical language-back to the anatomy vocabulary for me :-) :-) :-)
    or maybe I should contact Dr. Turki Mohammad for his phrases :-) :-) :-)
    A language page would be a great way for us to keep up on our monthly lessons and progress!

    Khalid-more brilliant linguistic analysis, plus I love languages that have a separate plural for 2-your quizzes would be welcome even if intimidating:-):-)

    DW-maybe you could arrange language lessons/exchange with an expat eg. through work contact, Aramco, or a nearby university. Or perhaps one of the teachers or older students at these institutions would be interested in teaching you:

    for French
    Ecole française d’Al-Khobar
    Al-Khobar, de la maternelle à la seconde.
    Chef d’établissement : M. Jéry CERISIER
    Adresse : B.P. 1498, Al-Khobar 31952
    Téléphone : 00 966 3 887 08 96 – 887 12 16
    Télécopie : 00 966 3 887 08 91
    Mail :[email protected]
    Site de l’école

    for Japanese
    Al Dhahran Intermediate School

    or an online program

    Marahm-thanks for the online recommendation.

    back to vocab list:-)

  19. DW there are plenty of Japanese around khobar I know they have a school for kiddos not that you want that:) But I’m thinking they should have something, I’ll ask around and see if anyone knows of a place for either language.

  20. Oh for Arabic in Khobar you can go to Euro Village they have classes there. I’ll try to get a contact number. And for women expats it is really easy to find a private tutor to teach you the must know words. The good ones will take you out and about and make you converse, ask directions, shop in a market ect. Not that Khobar it is really needed but it is good to know if you venture out in different parts of the Kingdom, even Dammam you’ll find use for Arabic if your out shopping.

  21. American Bedu—oh oh, if these stock phrases are not used in psychiatry I’d better brush up on standard medical language—back to the anatomy vocabulary for me :-):-):-)
    Or maybe I’ll contact Dr Turki Mohammad for his phrases :-):-):-)
    A language page would be a great place for us to keep track of our monthly lessons and progress.

    Khalid—more brilliant linguistic analysis, and I love languages with a dual plural—your quizzes would be most welcome, even if intimidating:-):-):-)

    DW—maybe you could find an expat for language lessons or exchange, eg. through work, Aramco or a nearby university. Or try the following schools which might have faculty or older students looking for tutorial work/ exchange: Ecole francaise d’Al-Khobar (look online for contact details my computer doen’t want me to post them), or the Japanese school in Damman (that the computer won’t let me reference).

    off to study vocab lists and fight with computer

  22. M’enfin, cette espece d’ordinateur penible m’a laisse poster ce commentaire redige a mille reprises depuis une heure. :-l

    Finally, this painfully annoying excuse for a computer has let me post this comment I have rewritten multiple times for an hour this am. :-l

    Fortunately Khalid taught me to save and paste!:-):-)

  23. Ha! two in a row, how about:

    for French
    Ecole française d’Al-Khobar
    Al-Khobar, de la maternelle à la seconde.
    Chef d’établissement : M. Jéry CERISIER
    Adresse : B.P. 1498, Al-Khobar 31952
    Téléphone : 00 966 3 887 08 96 – 887 12 16
    Télécopie : 00 966 3 887 08 91
    Mail :[email protected] Site de l’école

    for Japanese
    Japanese School in Bahrain (probably know about resources in Eastern Saudi)
    PO Box 30084,
    Saar, Bahrain

    quitting here while I am ahead

  24. Ha! two successes and many further aborted attempts:

    How about

    for French
    Ecole francaise d’Al-Khobar/Lycee francais MLF d’Al-Khobar

    Lycee francais MLF d’Al-Khobar
    Nesma Village
    P. O. Box 1498
    31 952 Al-Khobar

    for Japanese
    Japanese School in Bahrain (probably know about resources in Eastern Saudi)
    PO Box 30084,
    Saar, Bahrain

    Like Nzingha said there are Japanese schools for kids in the Eastern Province but my computer has decided to withhold this
    information as it definitely has a mind of its own today.

    quitting while I am ahead :-)

  25. Emboldened by success I have tried many times to include the school’s contact info and the info for a Japanese school in Bahrain (might know about Eastern province) but the computer selectively deletes these two bits of innocuous information. Sorry.

    quitting while I am ahead on this one

  26. I’d like to ask if anyone in Riyadh can recommend an arabic tutor or classes? I’d love to get back into more formalized lessons myself but thus far the only two I have found have difficult timings for me. And I’m not interested in enrolling at Berlitz or another one of the language institutes.

  27. You probably already know about this one:

    Maybe if you don’t like the classes you could find a tutor from among the faculty.

  28. Yes! Arabic language is really once of the most poetic languages I have heard…it is somehow built in it’s structure,,,,
    Carol, I think they have been advertising lessons at King Saud University in Riyadh,,,,have you checked it out?
    I think that there are also tutors that advertise on , but they can be expensive…..

  29. @Chiara: I’m glad you love dual plurals. Most non-arabic friends of mine find it retarded?

  30. Mohamed S-your friends are so wrong-dual plurals are so much more specific and enriching to a language.
    Old English (Anglo-Saxon 450-1100 the language of the epic Beowulf, well before Chaucer) had “we” but also “wit” (we two)-infinitely better than just “we”.

    I had no idea/memory that Arabic had dual plurals-more inspiration to study the language further.

  31. Carol,
    Try I had a lot of responses from Saudi who were anxious to teach Arabic and learn english.

  32. Sorry about the double comments above. The mysteries of the computer which kept disappearing/rejecting the more detailed ones, and now chooses to reveal them will never cease to amaze me:-)

    Warning: one more version of the first comment may yet come spewing forth:-)

  33. Thank you for the leads which in fact I had pursued all of those. It is challenging with working full time to find someone willing to teach evenings or over a weekend. I actually did find a weekend class but it started at 0815 hours and it would take 40 minutes just to get there so that didn’t work.

    Conversation exchange will get a lot of responses but once someone learns I’m a female in Saudi Arabia it seems to switch to just wanting to get to know a foreign woman so I’ve shied away from it.

    However I am not going to give up. I will probably put a notice at the women’s center in my Saudi compound and see what response I get.

  34. Just out of curiosity AmericanBedu, why you are not interested in Berlitz! Perhaps I might be able to find someone to teach Arabic through Berlitz, will that be fine ?

    As for the test, don’t worry I accept the challenge even without anyone challenging me:). I already jotted down some ideas for fun before I went to bed last night:) Indeed it’s challenging, and this is for two reasons: 1. the AmericanBedu’s students of Arabic are only exposed to the Arabic words through English letters; they have no means to listen to basic conversations — or at least to these words pronounced. 2. most tests for beginners that I could think of (maybe someone can find better methods than me) require listening. Usually the first skill acquired is listening , then speaking / reading, then writing.

    I was thinking of a vocabulary test in which an English word appear on the screen, then in a box, the learner will write the Arabic equivalent . Unfortunately, such kind of test wouldn’t be accurate without using the Arabic graphemes.

    We can use a simple interactive website to accomplish this (perhaps Moodle will do the job) Let me give a simple example:

    The word “good morning ” will appear on the screen. below it “in Arabic the learner should write (Sabah Al-Khir). If the entry was correct, the screen will move to the next word, and if it wasn’t , then the learner can give it a second shot. in the 3rd attempt the program will correct the word, and move to the next word. At the end the wrong entries will be repeated for revision .

    I’m here only brainstorming BTW .

    Another possible way of testing, the learners would hear short simple conversations in Arabic (MP3 files would work in such activities) where some of the words appeared in lesson 1 & 2 will be mentioned in these conversations. The learner has to tick the words that was said in the conversations. This will help in comprehension, and in associating the single words given in this post with their use in sentences ..

    Happy Learning to all:)

    P.S. I might give up my current job and consider a career in teaching Arabic in the future — it seems there are lots of opportunities and many jobs available Hahaha:)

  35. Khalid – what you described is very much part of the interactive Rosetta Stone which I highly recommend to everyone.

    Berlitz is here in Riyadh but they are very pricey!!!!

  36. Then I should check it out . I guess I once so at a bookstore Rosetta Stone for English; so I assume they are having several languages. I might give Japanese a go then…

    As aside note, Japanese is a SOV language:)

    Yup, Berlitz private lessons are pricey. I guess it’s 150SR an hour. However most instructors take about 100SR a an hour; I don’t know about Arabic, but instructors who teach French/German/Italian take from 100SR to 150SR an hour.

    tosbaho ala khir (Arabic phrase)

  37. Sabah Al-Khir, Khalid, or, kunichi wa, Khalid-san. I was very busy, I’m doing a new course, and am AWOL now.
    I’m already worried about the quiz you’re going to come up with.
    (if you change professions and become a language tutor you will get to know a lot of foreign women… Hmmm, I doubt your intentions!? )

    Bedu you defenitely need to install a language page, I need to have a handy list af all the words to learn.
    And add phonetic! I have no idea how to pronounce all this!?

  38. Excellents points made and noted Aafke!

  39. One other suggestion for an Arabic tutor-any family members willing, able to do this in a formalized way (ie set a regular schedule, goals, program, willing to correct you, etc)?

  40. great suggestion chiara but simply did not work out — been there, done that.

  41. I still say:

    It uses actual newspaper articles, and has six different ways to study each article, using either Arabic script and/or transliteration. A free trial is available.

    Rosetta Stone is fine, but it has its limitations. Once you’ve learned the lessons, you’ve learned the lessons. With Natural Arabic, you see two new articles every week, and you are always learning new words, in context.

    Of course, there is no substitute for actual conversation. Ironically, that is the hardest thing to learn, even in the middle of Saudi Arabia!

  42. Congratulations, it’s a great blog you’re writing.

    On the subject of learning Arabic, I post a, ‘How to read and write Arabic’ every Thursday on my blog:

    I use road signs to explain the letters of the Arabic alphabet and as I’ve only posted three entries so far, alif, baa and taa, anyone who’s interested in learning to read and write Arabic should be able to catch up easily and join in. I will continue to post one letter each week until the alphabet is completed.

    Hope this helps. Best regards and once again, congrats on a great site.


  43. Shirley,

    Congratulations to you! I think you are fulfilling a wonderful need and thanks for letting us know!

    Best Regards,

  44. Hi Carol

    Did you find out from saleh, where the school was in al khobar? i’m moving to KSA, Al Khobar soon and would like to learn the language.

    cheers Tori

  45. Toriatsea,

    No but hopefully someone else familiar with Al Khobar can respond.

  46. I’ve heard Rosetta Stone is good …. isn’t there also Sakhr software for learning Arabic? How is that available?

  47. I have and continue to supplement with Rosetta Stone. I cannot address Sakhr software though.

  48. Hi Saleh,

    May you please provide the contact detail of the Arabic class in Khobar? I stay at Khobar and looking for a school which teaches Arabic.

    Thanks in advance….Ani 0540712729

  49. Hi Saleh,

    can you please give me more details about the great private arabic school for foreigners in khobar?



  50. Hi Mr. Saleh,

    As mentioned above, please provide details of that great private arabic school for foreigners.

    Thanks and regrds,


  51. Hi, I am a Muslim Saudi American woman who is giving Private Arabic lessons this summer. We do not have classes, only private sessions. We live in Al-Khobar, specifically in Dhahran.
    We charge 75 s.r /hour for one person

    Or if you have a friend/family member you would like to bring along it is 50 s.r/per hour (each)

    For more info call 0506840701

  52. hi, i just arrived in jeddah.
    i studied arabic before but never been really apply it over 4 years, and now i am thinking to refresh and advance my arabic during my stay here in KSA for about 5 months.
    do you have any reference of arabic class for non native in jeddah? i am used to mix (male-female) learning circumstances, and i can go with female learning long as i can study.

    thank you in advance for your shared information.

    kamiliyah basith

  53. @Kamiliyah,

    Welcome to the blog. I know I have some individuals following the blog who do live in Jeddah. If in the event they don’t know a place in Jeddah, I suggest you may wish to join the [email protected] forum which provides a wealth of information.

    Best Regards, Carol

  54. Hi saleh,

    i am an non-saudi living in al khobar. i love to learn arabic both writing and speaking. would u like to give me some info about arabic courses in al khobar.?
    thank you


  55. Dear all,

    who knows a good institute or school in Riyadh to learn arabic language (starting from beginner level) in small groups? I would really like to learn seriously this language. Thank you for your help.Marie

  56. Dear Marie,


    There are many venues for learning Arabic in small groups. There is a Berlitz school which teaches large and small classes located near PSU. Many of the Islamic Centers (WAMY) also give free Arabic classes. Last but not least if you are on a compound, there usually are notices on the bulletin boards for Arabic classes. If you email me directly ([email protected]) I’d be happy to have your request circulated.

  57. Dear all,

    I realize the last post is dated 3years ago. Nevertheless I’m going to give this a shot and ask if anyone has new info on Arabic classes for females in al-khobar. I live in al-Aqrabiah. Green belt area.
    So far I tried Berlitz, Fekker Academy , Canadian Language Centre.. All in vain… the former 2 places don’t offer Arabic classes “yet” … This I hear so often. I’m really dedicated to learning the language , so any suggestions are welcome.

  58. @AK,
    I will have to look again, but I do remember one place having a summer intensive Arabic language course (one of the universities, I think?) available to expats. I haven’t checked in a couple of years though since I got married. Also, there are online Arabic language courses and language exchange programs you could try, too. I’m not sure if they would require video chat or simply voice chat, but it’s worth checking out. You could also see if any of the women in the area would be willing to teach you Arabic via private lessons. I would also recommend searching more articles on AmericanBedu because there are more recent postings about learning Arabic that may contain additional useful information.

  59. @AK,
    Oh, and one suggestion I have is to learn the written Arabic alphabet first as well as the sounds that go with it. It makes it easier to understand the pronunciation of Arabic words in general. Sometimes, when I don’t understand the pronunciation of an Arabic word, I’ll try to see a written version of the word (in Arabic) and that helps a lot. Also, sometimes the same pronunciation can be written in 2-4 different English variations that all come close to the Arabic pronunciation (e.g. “chai”/”chay” OR just look at Arabic names spelled in with English characters). On an interesting note, in Arabic, Chinese, and at least one Indian language, the word for tea is roughly the same. How it came to be tea rather than some variation of “cha” is beyond me!

    Anyways, I recommend learning the Arabic alphabet first this because there are some sounds in Arabic that we don’t have in English or two sounds in Arabic that we wouldn’t differentiate between in English, but they do in Arabic. A reverse example of this would be that in Arabic, they have one letter to represent “b” and “p”. So one of the best ways to start learning Arabic, IMO, is to study the alphabet while you are picking up very basic everyday words and phrases like “good morning”, etc. I pretty much self-taught myself this with a good basic Arabic alphabet learning book, which means you can teach yourself this while you’re looking for a good Arabic class. (It’s not as hard as it seems because there is a pattern to the language.) Search online or in your local area to find a book on this that resonates well with you.

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