Arabic is a fascinating language with a history that dates back centuries. It is also a very popular language, with more than 300 million native Arabic speakers around the world, mostly in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Arabic is the official language of the 22 the countries that form the Arab league and the 5th most common language globally.
This article will share the history of the Arabic language and offer some interesting facts on Arab culture. We’ll also help you understand why Arabic is essential for doing business in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
A short history of the Arabic language
Arabic is a Semitic language that is related to both Hebrew and Aramaic. Historians believe the Arabic language first emerged during the Iron Age, somewhere between 1300–300 BC. Its name comes from the term Arab, which was used to describe the people living in Mesopotamia (Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria), Anti-Lebanon Mountains (Syria, Lebanon) and Sinai Peninsula (Egypt, Israel).
Classical Arabic is considered the formal version of the language. It originated in the 6th-Century and is the language in which the Qur’an was written. It is considered the syntactical and grammatical basis for the Arabic. Classical Arabic is still taught in many schools around the world, but it is mostly used as a written language.
Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is similar Classical Arabic, but somewhat easier to learn. It is the most commonly spoken variant of Arabic and used all across the Middle East and Africa. It is the form of Arabic spoken by most television presenters, reporters, and politicians. It is also used in nearly all modern newspapers and books.
There are many other Arabic dialects throughout the Arab world. They are so diverse that a person speaking one form of Arabic might not be able to understand another person speaking Arabic in a different dialect. However, both parties could communicate if they use Modern Standard Arabic.
Arabic has become the 5th-most commonly spoken language in the world. The countries that use Arabic as their official language include Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudia Arabia, Qatar, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Here are some interesting facts that you may not have known about Arab culture. They will be useful for anyone staying in an Arabic country for the first time.
Body language is different in Arab culture
Arabs prefer to shake hands longer but more gently than people from other cultures. They often greet close friends and colleagues with a hug and kiss on each cheek.
Arabian culture is incredibly diverse
The term Arab describes many different countries with a shared culture, language and history. However, Arabs are actually a diverse group of people that includes Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Arabs in different countries dress differently, eat different foods, and have very different traditions.
Family is very important
Arabs have a strong focus on the family unit. The patriarch of the family is the most powerful person and has the last say when there is a debate.
Arabs in different countries dress very differently
Arabs in different countries wear everything from robes to business suits and casual wear. Fashion is ever evolving in most Arab countries.
Honour is very important for Arabs
Treating people with respect and honour is very important in Arab culture. You shouldn’t mock other or treat them with disdain as they will be deeply offended. This is particularly true when it comes to older people.
Arabs have been “foodies” for centuries
Arabs are love food and have many celebrations focussed on food. Many famous Arab dishes are beginning to find their way into Western culture, including shawarma and bakhlawa.
They enjoy large celebrations
You haven’t seen a grand wedding until you have seen one in Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, or another Arab country. They have massive celebrations that run for days.
A very young demographic
About 32% of the people living in the Arab world are between the ages of 15 and 29 years of age. This is much higher than Western countries, which are dominated by the baby boomer demographic.