As a first-time visitor to the UAE, immersing yourself in the local culture is a wonderful way to make your trip memorable. One of the most genuine gestures you can make is to greet the locals in their native language. 

In this article, we’ll explore common greetings in Arabic and provide insights on when and how to use them. By incorporating these phrases into your interactions, you’ll not only show respect for the local customs but also forge genuine connections with the people you meet.

“As-Salaam-Alaikum” – Peace Be Upon You

"As-Salaam-Alaikum" - Peace Be Upon You


This timeless greeting in Arabic, “As-Salaam-Alaikum,” transcends language; it embodies a sentiment of peace, harmony, and genuine goodwill. Its ubiquity in the UAE is a testament to the culture’s emphasis on hospitality and mutual respect.

From the bustling marketplaces, where merchants greet you, to the tranquil homes, where families welcome guests as if they were old friends, “As-Salaam-Alaikum” is the golden thread that weaves through every interaction.

Responding with “Wa-Alaikum-Salaam” completes this graceful exchange. Feel free to use this greeting in any informal setting; it’s an open invitation to connect on a personal level. 

“Marhaban” – Hello

"Marhaban" - Hello


“Marhaban,” a single word that encapsulates warmth, openness, and respect. It’s a versatile greeting in Arabic that transcends formality, making it suitable for a wide array of situations. 

When addressing a larger audience or participating in gatherings, “Marhaban” serves as an inclusive invitation to connect. It’s a word that carries with it the spirit of unity, reminding everyone present that they are part of a shared experience. 

So, whether you’re embarking on a solo adventure or mingling in a crowd, let “Marhaban” be your go-to. 

Sabah Al-Khair” – Good Morning


As the first rays of the sun grace the skyline, a new day begins with the gracious greeting of “Sabah Al-Khair.” It’s more than just a salutation; it’s an offering of goodwill, a gentle embrace of the morning’s promise. This phrase carries with it a sense of politeness and warmth that sets the tone for the day ahead.

The response, often accompanied by a genuine smile, creates an immediate connection. It’s as if the morning itself responds to this greeting, bestowing an extra touch of radiance upon the world.

 So, as you step out into the day’s embrace, don’t forget to share this greeting. 

“Masaa Al-Khair” – Good Evening

As the sun begins its descent, it’s time to transition to the evening greeting, “Masaa Al-Khair.” This phrase embodies the spirit of consideration for the time of day and extends a polite acknowledgment of the approaching night.

Whether you find yourself at a cultural event, savoring a delectable meal at a local eatery, or meeting someone after the sun has set, using “Masaa Al-Khair” reflects an awareness of the evolving hours. It’s a signal that the pace of the day is changing, and with it, a shift in atmosphere and mood.

It’s a way to greet the evening with the same respect and grace as you welcomed the morning. 

“Shukran” – Thank You

"Shukran" - Thank You


While not a formal greeting, expressing gratitude with “Shukran” is an invaluable phrase. This simple yet powerful expression of thanks transcends cultural boundaries, resonating with people from all walks of life. Whether you find yourself in a bustling market or a tranquil village, uttering “Shukran” communicates appreciation in a universal language.

It not only acknowledges the kindness extended to you but also fosters a sense of connection with the locals. In a world where gestures often speak louder than words, “Shukran” is a key that unlocks doors to genuine interactions.

“Afwan” – You’re Welcome


Responding to gratitude with “Afwan” is like extending an open hand in return. This elegant phrase signifies that the gesture was not only received with gratitude but also gladly given. 

In an exchange of courtesies, “Afwan” acts as a subtle dance step, moving the conversation forward. It carries an aura of warmth and generosity, assuring the person expressing thanks that their appreciation is valued. Through “Afwan,” you participate in a harmonious dialogue of gratitude, creating a dynamic where kindness flows freely and effortlessly.

“La, shukran” – No, thank you

There are times when you might be offered something, but for various reasons, you might want to decline it. In such situations, “La, shukran” is a very useful phrase. It’s a way to politely say “no” while also expressing your thanks. 

It’s like saying, “I appreciate the offer, but I’ll pass.” This phrase allows you to maintain politeness and gratitude even when you’re declining.

“Tafaddal” – Please/Go ahead

"Tafaddal" - Please/Go ahead


“Tafaddal” is a wonderfully versatile word in Arabic. It’s like a Swiss army knife of politeness! You can use it to offer something to someone, like a seat or a piece of food. It’s also a way to encourage someone to go ahead of you, like through a door or in a line. 

Additionally, “Tafaddal” can be used to say “please,” when you’re making a request. It’s a small yet powerful word that shows consideration and courtesy.

“Min fadlak/ik” – Excuse me/Pardon me (to a male/female)

Min fadlak/ik" - Excuse me/Pardon me (to a male/female)


Imagine you’re in a crowded place, or maybe you accidentally bump into someone. This is when “Min fadlak” (for a male) or “Min fadlik” (for a female) comes in handy. It’s a polite way to get someone’s attention or apologize for the accidental bump. 

It’s like saying, “I’m sorry for bothering you” or “Excuse me for getting in your way.” This phrase helps keep interactions respectful and considerate, even in busy or unexpected situations.

“Ma’a as-salama” – Goodbye

"Ma'a as-salama" - Goodbye


When it’s time to part ways, saying “Ma’a as-salama” is a courteous and widely recognized way to bid farewell in Arabic-speaking cultures. This phrase holds a beautiful sentiment, as it literally means “With peace.”

By using this phrase, you’re not only expressing your intention to leave but also conveying your wish for the other person to continue their journey in a state of tranquility and well-being. It’s like wrapping up your interaction with a warm embrace of good wishes.


By familiarizing yourself with these common greetings in Arabic and knowing when to use them, you’ll not only enhance your travel experience in the UAE but also build meaningful connections with the locals. Remember, language is a powerful tool for bridging cultural gaps and showing respect for the traditions of the places you visit.

Start incorporating these greetings into your interactions, and you’ll find that they open doors to deeper, more enriching experiences during your stay in the UAE. Safe travels, and enjoy your time in this vibrant and welcoming country!

About Author

Hanna Rico

About Author

Hanna Mae Rico is a skilled content writer. With a bachelor's degree in English Language Studies, Hanna has spent over three years working in the digital marketing industry. Her versatility shines through her ability to captivate audiences with lifestyle, travel, and other engaging topics. Her love of written words and her innate ability to transport readers to different places make her a true wordsmith.