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What Language Do They Speak in Qatar?

What Language Do They Speak in Qatar

Key Takeaway Table

Official LanguageArabic
Widely SpokenModern Standard Arabic, Gulf Arabic
Other LanguagesEnglish, Urdu, Malayalam, Tagalog, and more
Business LanguagePredominantly Arabic, English


Qatar, a tiny yet affluent nation on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, boasts a rich tapestry of history, culture, and traditions. Central to these traditions is the language spoken by its inhabitants. This article will delve deep into the linguistic landscape of Qatar, highlighting its main language while also exploring the myriad of languages spoken due to its cosmopolitan nature.

Main Language of Qatar: Arabic

Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)

Arabic, specifically Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), is the official language of Qatar. MSA is used in:

  • Government: All official documents and communication.
  • Media: Newspapers, news broadcasts, and formal publications.
  • Education: It’s the medium of instruction in most schools.

Gulf Arabic

While MSA is the standard written form of Arabic, when it comes to day-to-day conversation, many Qataris use Gulf Arabic, a dialect of the Arabic language unique to the Arabian Gulf region. The nuances and colloquialisms of Gulf Arabic are deeply rooted in the region’s history and culture.

Features of Gulf Arabic:

  • Vocabulary: Contains words not found in MSA or other Arabic dialects.
  • Pronunciation: Some letters are pronounced differently.
  • Sentence Structure: Slight variations in comparison to MSA.

Table: Comparison of Phrases in MSA and Gulf Arabic

MSA PhraseGulf Arabic EquivalentEnglish Translation
كيف حالك؟ (Kayfa halak?)شلونك؟ (Shlonak?)How are you?
شكراً (Shukran)مرسي (Mersi)Thank you

The Influence of Expatriates: A Multilingual Nation

Qatar is home to a significant expatriate population, which means that, apart from Arabic, a variety of languages can be heard echoing in its bustling streets, markets, and corporate corridors.

Popular Languages Among Expatriates:

  1. English: Widely spoken and understood due to the international business community and diverse expatriate population.
  2. Urdu: Spoken by a sizable Pakistani community.
  3. Malayalam: Common among the Indian community from Kerala.
  4. Tagalog: Spoken by the Filipino community.
  5. Bengali, Nepali, Tamil: These languages, among others, are spoken by various expatriate communities from South Asia.

Table: Percentage Representation of Expatriate Languages

LanguageEstimated Percentage of Speakers

Note: The percentages exceed 100% due to multilingual individuals.

Business Landscape: A Blend of Tradition and Modernity

In the realm of business, both Arabic and English are predominant.

  • Arabic: Used in government-related businesses, local enterprises, and when dealing with Arabic-speaking clientele.
  • English: Preferred in international businesses, especially with the vast expatriate community in the country. Many companies use English for internal communications, contracts, and other corporate documents, especially those with international operations.

Tips for Business Travellers

  • Learning Basic Arabic: A few phrases in Arabic can go a long way in making a good impression.
  • Business Cards: It’s advisable to have one side in English and the other in Arabic.
  • Respect Local Customs: During meetings, always greet in Arabic first, even if the rest of the meeting proceeds in English.


Qatar, with its unique blend of tradition and cosmopolitan spirit, speaks volumes through its linguistic diversity. While Arabic, in its various forms, remains the cornerstone of Qatari identity, the nation’s open arms to expatriates from around the world have made it a melting pot of languages and cultures. Whether you’re a tourist, a business traveler, or someone simply curious about this Arabian gem, understanding the linguistic tapestry of Qatar will undoubtedly enrich your experience.