There are many written and spoken Arabic dialects in the Arab world. Those dialects are mainly classified into three dialects: Classical Arabic (fus-ha), Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), and Colloquial Dialects. What are the differences between these dialects?

  1. Classical Arabic (fus-ha) is the ancient Arabic language used in the Qur’an and ancient literary texts from the seventh century AD to the ninth century AD. Learn Classical Arabic is the perfect choice for anyone who wants to learn the language to study the ancient Arab father or understand the Qur’an.
  2. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the language of reading and writing. It is the official language of the Arab countries, that is taught in schools and universities, and is used in books, magazines, media, legal documents, etc. Thus, all Arabs understand it, regardless of their cities, countries, and local dialects. Learning Modern Standard Arabic is the best choice for those who want to learn Arabic in a school or study modern Arabic arts and literature.
  3. Spoken dialect: It is the regional dialect that people speak and communicate within Arab countries. The dialect spoken varies from a country to another and from a city to another. The following are the main spoken dialects in the Arab World.
  • Egyptian dialect: It is the dialect spoken in Egypt. It is spoken by about 100 million people. It is a common and understandable dialect for most Arabs because of the considered influence and historical presence of the Egyptian media industry. Be it music, movies, theater, or drama. Egypt has dominated Arab cinema since the mid-1920s, and its artworks have been widely disseminated in Arab countries. Many non-Arabic speakers desire to learn the Egyptian dialect for tourism and communicate with a wide range of speakers of this dialect.
  • The Gulf dialect: It is the spoken dialect in the Arab countries bordering the Arabian Gulf (known also as the Persian Gulf), which are seven countries: Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iraq. The Gulf dialect is spoken by about 57 million people, with a slight difference in dialect from one country to another. Non-Arabic speakers would like to learn this dialect for tourism or job opportunities in the Gulf countries.
  • Levantine dialect: It is the dialect spoken in the countries of the Levant, namely: Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine. The number of speakers of this dialect is about 50 million people. It is a very common and understandable dialect for most Arabs due to the spread of Levantine people in other Arab countries. Also, this dialect is popular because of the spread of Levantine media such as TV shows, broadcasts, songs, and dramas. Many non-Arabic speakers desire to learn this dialect because it is an easy and popular one, to get job opportunities in organizations located in the Levant region, or for tourism in the countries that speak it.
  • The Moroccan dialect: With some differences, it is the dialect spoken in the countries of the Arab Maghreb (the western part of North Africa and the Arab World), which are Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Mauritania. The Moroccan dialect contains a lot of non-Arabic vocabularies such as French, Italian, Spanish, and Imazighen, so this dialect gets not understood by many Arabs who speak other dialects. Non-Arabic speakers learn the Moroccan dialect of tourism.

Which Arabic dialect is optimal for learning?

To choose the optimal language to learn, you need to determine the learning objective. If the goal is tourism in an Arab country or to obtain a job opportunity, then the ideal, in this case, is to learn the dialect of the intended country for tourism or work. While if the goal is to learn about the history of Arab countries, read Arabic literature and learn about Arab culture through documentaries and books, or have a desire to discover, then the ideal, in this case, is to learn Modern Standard Arabic. For communicating with Arabs in a non-Arab country, learning the dialect of the majority of the Arabs in that region is the ideal option.

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Arabic Teacher & Writer

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