United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates, with one of the most diverse populations in the world, is home to numerous languages spoken by immigrants from all over the world. Standard Arabic is the official language used in the country, but as a result of high immigration into the country, there are many other foreign languages spoken in the UAE, such as: English, Hindi, Farsi, Urdu and Malayalam.

There are numerous variations of the Arabic language which are spoken in the UAE, but Modern Standard Arabic is the language used in official documents and among the government departments, as well as in books, magazines and newspapers. Modern Standard Arabic is essentially a more simplified version of Classic Arabic, which is more complex. Gulf Arabic is the other version of Arabic spoken in the UAE. Another variant of Arabic, Shihhi Arabic, is a less popular version of Arabic spoken in the country. The laws established by the UAE require foreigners to be fluent in Arabic if they wish to attain the country’s citizenship.

Apart from the various versions of Arabic which are predominant in the United Arab Emirates, English is also a popular language most commonly heard among the large community of western expatriates living in the United Arab Emirates. English is the most popular language in the region due to the fact that the land today occupied by the UAE used to be a British colony until 1971. English is mainly used in the educational facilities, where it is most often taught as a second language. Furthermore, English is commonly used in shops, commercial businesses and hotels.

The most commonly heard minority languages spoken in the UAE include Persian and Hindi. Persian or Farsi is a minority language mainly spoken by the small community of Iranians living in the UAE. Iranian immigrants are regarded as the earliest immigrants into UAE due to the close geographical proximity of the two countries. Most Iranians live in Dubai, where they operate around 8,000 businesses. Another minority language in the UAE is Hindi, which is mainly spoken by the many Indian immigrants residing in the country. Indians make up around 30% of the UAE’s total population, which is why the Hindi language is taught in Indian schools. Indian schools in the UAE are primarily run by wealthy Indian expatriates. The vast majority of the Indian community members in the UAE reside in Dubai.


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