Thinking of learning Arabic?
Not sure where to start?
Confused about what dialect to learn?
Let me save you some ALOT of time. I’ve traveled extensively in the Arab world and learned several versions of the language through immersion and university, from Egyptian to Levantine to Modern Standard—so listen up. But first, let me give you….
5 REASONS why you should take up Arabic
- It’s extremely useful. Nearly 300 million people speak Arabic as their native language! Furthermore, there are 25 countries that have Arabic as their official language, making it the third most widely spoken language (by number of countries), just behind English and French.
- Arab women are sexy! Arabic women come in all shapes and shades, but nearly all are vastly more feminine than their Western counterparts. Whether you’re looking for an exotic fling or a virgin bride who is wholly focused on taking care herself and her family—Arabia has it all on offer. From mixed French-Moroccans, to liberal Lebanese, to Haleeji princesses, you have quite a bit of variety.
- It’s f**king cool. Every player is learning a Latin language, be it Spanish or Portuguese. Even Russian and Mandarian are en vogue these days—but nobody is learning Arabic. Quite Bondesque, I may say. I’m not saying you should learn it just for props, but when girls hear me spittin’ Arabic, it gets a far more powerful response that the others linguas mentioned. Plus, Arabic feels great to speak. It’s masculine like German, expressive like Spanish, and can sound as sexy as French.
- It’s not as difficult as you think. It’s a little tougher than Russian but easier than Chinese. Arabic script is actually pretty easy to get your head around AND it’s phonetic! Many of the sounds like the rolling ‘rrr’ and the guttural “huh” are the same as in Spanish.
- Because…why not? How much time are you wasting everyday… playing video games, browsing SHIT online, or sitting on your arse. What if I told that just 30 minutes a day could have you conserving comfortably in Arabic in 12 weeks? YEAH!
OK, now before you start Goggling Arabic lessons, let me stop you right there! There is one very important thing you need to know.
ARABIC IS NOT A LANGUAGE.
HOLD UP! Yep, you read that correctly. Arabic is more akin to a proto-language group rather that a homogeneous entity, much like ‘Latin’ is to French or Italian. Forget the difference between Saudi and Moroccan Arabic, even when I went to learn Levantine Arabic after Egyptian (neighboring regions)— I couldn’t BELIEVE the differences. I might as well have started from scratch. To call them ‘dialects’ is a stretch. But thankfully, certain variants are universally understood. Here’s the score:
Broadly speaking, there are roughly five major regional strains of Arabic:
- Maghreb (North African)
- Levantine (Lebanon, Syrian, Jordan, Palestine)
- Khaliji (Persian Gulf)
- Mesopotamian (Iraq)
- ‘Modern Standard’ (Classical / Koranic / Academic)
So which Arabic should you choose?
First of all, let’s start with what NOT to choose.
DON’T LEARN Modern Standard Arabic
Let’s start with Modern Standard Arabic—or MSA for short. When academics or constitutions refer to ‘Arabic’, they’re usually referring to Classic Arabic or MSA. They are the same thing. There is nothing ‘modern’ about MSA. The ONLY time you will hear MSA is in mosques, in pan-Arab news, or in stupid university courses teaching Arabic as a foreign language. It’s useless. I did a year of MSA with my Masters last year and my Arabic actually got worse.
Nobody speaks it. You are FAR better off learning a colloquial version.
DON’T LEARN Mesopotamian or Maghreb
There are too few Mesopotamian speakers to warrant learning it. Outside Iraq, it’s just not very useful.
Maghreb is also the most bastardized form of Arabic as it borrowed from Berber. Moroccan Arabic, for example, is the hardest Arabic for other speakers to understand. There is also a wide variance between Libya, Tunisia and Algeria (plus these countries aren’t much craic). You’ll get more millage out of learning French for this region instead.
MAYBE LEARN KHALIJI
Khaliji (or Gulf) Arabic may be the ‘purest’ Arabic, but it’s not the most widely understood. Romanian is the ‘purest’ Latin language, but so what? Khaliji is a better option than learning MSA or Magreb—and you’ll get serious respect for it ( it’s more ‘upper class’)—but there are a few other reasons I wouldn’t recommend Gulf Arabic over the alternatives.
- English is quite prevalent in the Gulf. Apart from Saudi (the world’s least fun country), the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain are all easily navigable with English. If you really wanted to converse with a local, they’ll all understand Levantine or Egyptian Arabic anyway.
- The women are the least sexual. Especially the ones that don’t speak English. The Gulf has the highest rate of virginity before marriage than anywhere in the world— and the one’s that do shag are the one’s that speak English!
- There is a lack of Khaliji Arabic learning material. Nearly all the material online for learning Arabic online is dedicated to either Egyptian, Levantine, or MSA.
So now the big question:
EGYPTIAN or LEVANTINE?
Before I give my opinion, I’ll tell why either one of these is a good choice.
- Egyptian and Lebanese TV and movies are the Arab world’s most popular. As a result, both Levantine and Egyptian are the most understood.
- Products like Pimsleur offer decent courses in both versions.
- 20% of all Arab speakers live in Egypt (80 million) and there are 35 million Levantine speakers—compared with 22 million Khaliji.
And the winner is…
If you are a man, go with Levantine Arabic.
It’s tough to come to this conclusion, as I personally prefer Egyptian. I find it more enjoyable to speak, it’s easier and flows better. However, there are a few reasons why I’m jumping ship to Levantine.
- Egyptian media is declining in popularity. More Arabs are tuning into Lebanese channels.
- Egypt sucks. While I’m willing to give the country a second chance, my experiences in the country ranked it among my least favorite countries.
- Levantine women are better looking, more open minded, and more sexual.
- Arab women find Levantine Arabic way sexier than Egyptian. I’ve talked to a lot of Arabs chicks about this. Egyptian is often described as ‘funny’ or ‘common’, whereas Lebanese makes their vaginas tingle.
- Levantine also comes in handy travelling — from Europe to Colombia to Hong Kong or anywhere else you find Lebanese diaspora. They’re are 14 million diaspora scattered throughout the globe, opening restaurants in your local town to sheesha cafés in deepest Africa.
Download Pimsleur Eastern Arabic (it’s actually Syrian), learn the language, and check out my city guides below to plan your next trip.
If there are ANY ARAB speakers out there please express YOUR view in the comment section!!!