Arabic, the official language of Qatar, ranks sixth among the world’s major languages and is the native tongue of nearly 250 million people, as well as the written language of Muslims. It is one of the United Nations’ six official languages.
The Arabic Language
Classical Arabic has preserved the language of the Qur’an (pictured) for over 1,400 years. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is an adapted form of the classical language used in books, newspapers, on television and radio, and in conversation between educated Arabs from different areas. Classical Arabic and MSA are, to a large extent, learned languages and must be taught in schools, since nearly all Arabs grow up learning a colloquial form of the language. Local dialects vary with more than 30 different regional variations.
Arabic is written from right to left. There are 18 distinct letter shapes, which vary slightly depending on whether they are connected to another letter before or after them. There are no ‘capital’ letters. The full alphabet of 28 letters is created by placing various combinations of dots above or below some of these shapes. Other languages – such as Persian, Urdu and Malay – use adaptations of the Arabic script.
Taking a course in Arabic is an interesting way to learn more about the region’s culture and to meet new people. Arabic language courses in Qatar offer a choice of colloquial Qatari Arabic or MSA. Islam is the official religion in Qatar. Courses offer a chance to learn about the faith.