If you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to communicate with ease on holiday in Egypt, we’ve got good news: when read phonetically, Arabic isn’t as difficult a language as you might think.
While most people understand at least basic English, Arabic is the official language of Egypt, so it’s recommended that you learn a few Arabic words before your Nile cruise.
Not only will it be an icebreaker, but you’ll get a smile from your Egyptian hosts – even if your pronunciation betrays you! Introduce yourself in Arabic and then chat with everyone: taxi drivers, hotel staff, shopkeepers and tour guides will all give you a unique insight into their Egyptian life.
• Peace be with you (to greet somebody) – Assalam Alaikoom
• Yes – Aywa
• No – La (prounounced like ‘bad’ but without the ‘d’)
• Thank you – Shukran
• No, thank you – La Shukran
• You are welcome – Afwan
• Please – Min Fadlack
• Goodbye – Massalama
• How are you? – Kaifa Halel?
• I am fine (praise be to God) – Anna Kwayis (Il hamdu lilah)
• What is your name? – Shu ismak (male) ismik (female)
• My name is… – Anna ismi…
• I am from – Anna mn
• How? – Kaifa?
• What? – Matha?
• Where? – Feign?
• Why? – Lay?
• Who? – Min?
If you decide to go off the beaten path, having these basic Arabic phrases under your belt will help you when buying the essentials.
• How much? – Bickam Da?
• It costs too much – Da ghali awi
• I would like – Anna eyes
• I wasn’t born yesterday – Anna mish guy men warra el gamusa
• Never – Fill mish mish
• My dear – Habbibi (useful for when you’re haggling!)
It’s unlikely you’ll be picking up an Arabic newspaper and reading it from cover to cover, but learning to recognise Arabic numbers will really help you.
Most places you’ll visit will have bills in English, including restaurants. But again, if you go further away from the tourist centres, you’ll see more Arabic bills and menus. Just knowing the numbers can help you determine the price.
٠ 0 Sifr
١ 1 Wahad
٢ 2 Etnane
٣ 3 Talata
٤ 4 Arba
٥ 5 Hamsa
٦ 6 Sitta
٧ 7 Saba
٨ 8 Tamania
٩ 9 – Tiss’a
١٠ 10 – ‘Ashra
Whether you just learn ‘Shukram’ or can reel off all of the phrases by memory, knowing how to speak at least some basic Arabic will add another dimension to your trip. Tirooh wa tigi bis salaama (have a good journey)!