What Languages Are Spoken in the United Arab Emirates?

The flag of the United Arab Emirates.
The flag of the United Arab Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of 7 Arab states often abbreviated as the UAE. The country lies along the Persian Gulf, and is neighboured by Oman and Saudi Arabia. The nation is home to slightly over 10 million people. However, the native population in the UAE consists of only 1.4 million people, and close to 84 percent of the population in the United Arab Emirates is made up of expatriates. Standard Arabic is the official language used in the country. As a result of the high immigration into the country, other foreign languages such as English, Hindi, Farsi, Urdu, and Malayalam are often spoken in the United Arab Emirates.

Official Language of the United Arab Emirates


Numerous variations of the Arabic language are spoken in the UAE. Modern Standard Arabic is the language used in official documents, as well as government departments. It is also used in books, newspapers, and magazines. The language is based on Classic Arabic, which is more complex. The other version of Arabic spoken in the UAE is Gulf Arabic. Gulf Arabic is often spoken in neighboring Gulf States, including Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Shihhi Arabic is a less popular version of Arabic spoken in the United Arab Emirates. However, the language is widely spoken in the neighboring state of Oman. UAE’s laws require foreigners to be fluent in Arabic in order to attain citizenship in the country.

The Most Popular Foreign Language Spoken in the UAE


The land that United Arab Emirates occupies was a British colony until 1971. Therefore, English is a popular language in the region. The language is mainly used in the educational system, where it is taught as a second language. English is also commonly used in shops, hotels and most commercial businesses. As a result of the large community of western expatriates living the United Arab Emirates, English is more commonly used than Arabic in the country.

Minority Languages Spoken in the UAE


Persian, also referred to as Farsi, is a minority language mainly spoken by the small community of Iranians who live in the United Arab Emirates. Iranians are said to be the earliest immigrants into UAE due to the country’s proximity to Iran. The Iranians make up more than 5 percent of the total population in the United Arab Emirates. Most Iranians live in Dubai, where they operate close to 8,000 businesses.


Hindi is the other minority language spoken in the United Arab Emirates. It is widely spoken by the many Indian immigrants living in the country, who make up close to 30 percent of the UAE’s population. The Hindi language is taught in Indian schools, which are primarily run by wealthy Indian expatriates. Dubai is a favorite city for the Indian community in the UAE.

Importance of Foreign Languages Spoken in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates has one of the most diverse populations in the world. The country is endowed with numerous languages spoken by the broad range of immigrants. This diversity of languages has made the country a cultural hub, and tourists flock to the country to sample the different cultures available there. Additionally, the diversity of languages makes the country an attractive location for business people.


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