The State of Qatar is a West Asian country with a population estimate of 2,672,522. The population varies widely in culture and origin, with different groups using different languages. Apart from the ethnic languages of the native inhabitants, there are several foreign languages, as well as ethnic languages, from other immigrant communities spoken by the expatriate community. Some of the languages spoken in Qatar include Arabic, English, French, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, Malaysian, Nepali, and Baluchi. Arabic is designated as the country's official language.
Arabic: The Official Language of Qatar
Arabic is an Afro-Asiatic language spoken in several countries in parts of Asia and Africa. Arabic is the official language in Qatar, with a majority of the population using Arabic as a mother tongue. The Arabic spoken in Qatar is of two distinct and mutually intelligible dialects: standard Arabic and native Gulf Arabic. The dialects used are affected by the migration and interaction of citizens of Qatar with other Arab-speaking foreigners. Qatar is used for official purposes, in business, daily communication, and as a method of instruction in Qatar’s institutions of learning.
English: The Most Popular Foreign Language Spoken in Qatar
English is the second most commonly used language in Qatar, with its roots in the colonial era. Since Qatar is a former British colony, English was used for official purposes during their rule. While English is not an official language, it is widely accepted as the second language in Qatar. English has been introduced as a second language in schools and has gained prominence among the business community. The presence of expatriates from English speaking countries has also contributed to the growth of the language in Qatar.
Sign Language of Qatar
The Qatar Unified Sign Language is used among the country's deaf community. The language is native to Qatar and is thought to be part of the Arabic sign language family. The government first recognized the language in 2001, with the first institution supporting the welfare of the deaf being established in 2005. While a large community of the deaf exists in Qatar, the language has not developed in equal measure, especially in education. The creation of the Qatar Unified Sign Language is an effort towards uniting the Qatari deaf community with the rest of the Middle East, by creating a common language. However, efforts have yet to bear fruit, as a standard sign language has not yet been established.
Minority and Immigrant Languages Spoken in Qatar
Immigrant communities within Qatar have continued to speak their native languages. Some of these languages include Farsi, Urdu, Malayalan, and Sinhalese. Farsi is an Indo-Iranian language of the Persian dialect spoken by natives of Iran and Iranians living in Qatar. Around 30,000 people in Qatar currently speak Farsi. Urdu is a widely used Hindustan language spoken by more than 100,000 people in Qatar. Most of these speakers are immigrants who moved to Qatar in search of better economic opportunities. The Filipino community in Qatar has introduced the Tagalog language into the country, with more than 200,000 speakers. Most of these Filipinos are immigrants or descendants of former immigrants. About 37,000 people in Qatar speak Sinhalese, a Sri Lankan language of the Brahmic family.
What Languages are Spoken in Qatar?
Arabic is the official language of Qatar and Qatari Arabic is the country's local dialect.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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