Languages in the UAE

What language do people speak in the UAE?

We could summarize the answer in one sentence: the official language is Arabic, the most spoken language is Urdu, and everyone speaks English.

Arabic in the UAE

Arabic is the historical language of the UAE. This is the language of the Emirati, the sacred language of Islam, so the official language of the UAE. All road signs are in Arabic (with English subtitles), and most local media are in Arabic.

English in the UAE

When there are so many different nationalities in one country, one is forced to choose a common language to understand each other. Being a former British protectorate, everyone (with a few exceptions, especially in rural areas) speak English.
All signs and official documents are translated in English, and there are a large number of newspapers, radio, television channels in English. When you pick up the phone, do a meeting, a conference, ormeet someone in the street, the conversation will almost invariably be in English.

To the question "is English sufficient to go to the Emirates", the answer is definitely "Yes". Locals also speak English very well for most of them (they are likely to have spent part of their studies in England or the United States) and every merchant, businessman, or official will speak English.


Urdu is the official language of Pakistan and one of the official languages of India. It is spoken by all Indians and Pakistanis Muslims (Hindu Indians mostly speaking Hindi). As they represent the majority of the population, it is de facto the most spoken language in the UAE. However, it is quite hard to learn for a Westerner.


Inevitably, each population has its own language and speaks with his countrymen. You will regularly hear some Tagalog (Philippines), Indonesian, Bengali and some other dialects ... A nice mix!