Arabic is the official and national language of Oman and the language heard most often within the country’s borders. The variant of Arabic spoken in Oman features several dialects, representing the nation’s diversity. Omani Arabic is prevalent in the Al-Hajar mountains as well as some neighboring coastal areas, and is regarded as the easternmost Arabic dialect. Omani Arabic was previously spoken by the colonialists in Kenya and Tanzania. The sub-dialects of Omani Arabic include Shihhi Arabic, heard in the Musandam Governorate of Oman, and Dhofari Arabic, used in Oman’s Dhofar Governorate. Another dialect of Arabic native to Oman is Bahrani Arabic.

Apart from Arabic, English is the unofficial second language of Oman and the most widely spoken second language in Oman. English is used as an instruction medium in schools from the earliest grades, and is especially popular in the business circles in the country. It is easy for expatriates and tourists to get around in Oman, given that many road signs, notices, and posters are in both Arabic and English. The usage of English is experiencing an upward trend due to the growing size of the expatriate community of English speakers in Oman.

Balochi Arabic or Baluchi is another main language of Oman, native to the Baloch community which inhabits Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Arabian Peninsula. Oman is home to approximately 312,000 Baloch people speaking the Baluchi language, which is recognized as a Northwestern Iranian language. It is communicated with the Urdu Arabic script in its written form. Baluchi is closely related to the Semitic languages spoken in Eritrea and Ethiopia, and there are slight differences between the dialects used by the Mandwani and the Mazari tribes.

There are several other native languages of Oman. Mehri, another South Arabian language, is used by the Mahra people in Oman, as well as Yemen and Kuwait. Mehri’s Nagdi dialect is the most popular variant of this language in Oman. Furthermore, the Shehri language, which is indigenous to Oman’s Dhofar region, had 25,000 speakers in 1993. Since then, most of the speakers have adopted Dhofari Arabic instead. The Harasis people of the Harasis Mountains situated in the province of Dhofar, use the Harsusi language. Other native languages of Oman are Bathari and Hobyot.

There are also a number of immigrant languages spoken in Oman, such as Urdu, brought by the Pakistani migrants who came to the country in the 1980s and 1990s. Hindi, spoken by Indian workers in Oman, is another immigrant language spoken in the country, as well as Somali, Gujarati, Sindhi, and Portuguese. Swahili is another language present in Oman, which is a result of Oman’s trade relations with Zanzibar in Africa.


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