Adopting Saudi language and culture


Expatriates  are reluctant to adopt the language and culture of the host country. My friend  studying at a medical college in Xhanghou, China has become fluent in Chinese in less than 2 years.  I have come across expatriates who have been around for more than 10 years have no inclination towards learning Saudi language and culture.  This is  unusual.

I am an ESL lecturer at Taiba university, Madina. My Saudi colleagues who are graduates from UK, speak fluent English.  They lived, played, talked and dined with Englishmen who conversed with them in Standard English and often corrected their mistakes. These ‘Saudi expats’ soon became part of the culture as they mingled freely with the English. ‘Why aren’t we adopting Saudi language and culture?’

I have friends in who have studied abroad and speak French or German quite well. I do not find the same enthusiasm in Saudi Arabia, with an expatriate population of more than 25%. The reason lies in the social structure. Society is operating as two parallel streams and there is very little socializing. It is very rare to see Saudis and expats socialising at coffee shops or sports clubs, the main venues for interaction and incidental learning.

There are numerous advertisements at shopping malls and colleges that read ‘ English tuition offered.’ It is so rare to find a notice that reads ‘Private Arabic classes.’ In China, France, Italy there is a  tremendous market for learning the local language and culture. In Saudi Arabia we find an  apathy – to teach as well as to learn the language – just the basic words to get the job done. ‘Khalas’. Even Saudi employers are content with communicating with their employees in a polluted form of Arabic.

Arabic is a magnificent language, rich in nuance and rhythm. Its beauty is lost by the level that it is being relegated to. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the locals to market a love for Arabic art and culture to the expatriates. I would like to see more advertisements that read ‘Arabic classes’ Arabic calligraphy lessons’ and ‘learn about Saudi traditional food and customs.’ A realistic and worthwhile 2020 vision!

  • 阿理西都

    Yes, there is a great need not only to introduce Arabic language but also the Arab culture for expatriates who spend years and years in this holy land but are unable to learn the richness of this beautiful language and culture.
    As per my personal experience, even the evening classes at Islamic University Madinah which are offered for free, the techniques are so primitive that the learner just has to memorize the lessons with some given exercises from the text books.There are no developed methods or techniques like other languages. The focus is always on grammar only and the student has just to memorize it. No conversational practices at all. No cultural introductions and no other educational or social interactions through these courses, which makes a new comer and a beginner boring.
    On the other hand the expatriates working in Saudi Arabia hardly speak correct Arabic language as the locals also do not correct them. May be its because the locals also don’t know the actual and right Arabic language in common, or they are just reluctant and don’t have interest in their own heritage to introduce it to the foreigners as other nations do.

    I’ve learnt more than 5 languages with the natives living in those countries and developed excellent and long-lasting relationship with the locals with full command on the language but for Arabic it is totally different. Hope to improve my Arabic language in future as an expatriate In Shaa Allah.

    • Syed Abdul Shakoor Qadri – Ome

      Yes they must Introduce easy way to learn Arabic by any website, similar to
      Thank you.

  • Muhammad Rizwan

    I have recently landed in saudi arabia 3 months before. The writer is some how right in his complain but during this short time i have experience that the local are not at all friendly or courtiest to expats even in shopping malls or in the office like mobile service centres the arabs behave very roudly with expats. The reason may be they dont like the expats or donot know the engkish language at all. Further the expats are in such a high numbers that they have made thiet own communities and they find thier native speaker every where.

  • Muhammad Rizwan

    Secondly, no opportunity or institue for arabic language.

  • Yaseen Baig

    Yes, I do agree that people living in Saudi Arabia for years and years, yet they dont speak fluent Arabic. For the last 7 years Alwafi Program have started the weekend courses in Riyadh for boys between 11-13 years to teach Arabic language and Islamic studies (in Arabic) by Arab Teachers who are specialized to teach non Arabs. Beside living in Arab it is the language of Quran and it is a must to learn Arabic to understand the words of the creator well.
    Over 220 students are presently studying from 23 different countries at Alwafi whereas about 50 students already graduated. Getting inspiration from Alwafi program with its remarkable results, Many other institutions started in Riyadh and Dammam.
    – Al Kafi Program (for Girls between 11-13 years
    -Mubeen Program
    – Al Misbah
    – Al Rajhi
    – Nibras (in Dammam)

    For guidance may email at [email protected]