Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Dont Speak Arabic

Have I told u I am a desi in an Arab land. oh yeah my titles clears it. I love this Arab Land. I actually enjoy many of the strict policies which other expats might find annoying or anything like that. I do call this land my home. And yes I do wish that I will be able to live here without the fear of leaving evrything behind or my iqama renewal or not being able to have my family here just because they dont fulfil a certain condition the government has.

Anyways, one of the things I love here is the way the arab women are always so made up and looking nice even when they out to the malls. I love going to the malls just to look at the well groomed ladies. Getting confused as the ladies are all covered up in black here???? Thats the MOST astonishing part. I mean even when these ladies are coverd in Black they still tend to be stylish. With their trendy shoes, fun bags( most of the time designer ones, still cant figure out if all of the ladies in the mall are carrying original Loiu Vitton or fakes and if they r fake i need one too), colorful nail colors and gorgeous makeup.

Sometimes when I am in the mood, I dress up as well when going to the mall. Peole have told me and many a times have mistaken for an arab which flatters me alot ( if an arab is getting offended, not my intention, ask the arabs who mistake me for it). Sometimes the flattery truns into embarassment. WHY???? Let me tell you a scene.

ME (all madeup with kohl eyes and nicely done scarf)

Me roaming a shop
Arab lady (nicely made up, obviously better than me) comes up to me and starts saying something in fluent arabic.


Anyhow I tell I dont speak arabic or understand whatever you are trying to say to me.
The nice lady starts to tell me how she got confused because I looked so much like an arab and I tell her oh no worries I have lived here for 25 years. I have the look down.

And now she looks likes this

ME and my Big mouth, and now I am like this

Really this is embarrasing, I mean I have lived here for all my life really and I dont speak or understand the language. I can however shop in Arabic.

Kum haza?(how much?)

Kum akhir?(what will be the last price?).

Ghali kateer( too expensive), and oh I can count in arabic too (important if u want to shop). But thats about it.

I dont know who to blame for my lack of language skills. I mean living here all my life I have never had arabic speaking friends, I had when I was very little, and I dont know how I comunicated with them, but me and my sister used to spend hours with them. I guess kids have a universal language, and I lost it when I grew up.

The only socializing I had with arabs were the families my dad used to work with and they spoke english. The shopkeepers in the malls didnt used to be arabs, mostly filipinos or indian and they spoke english as well ( these days i have prolems shoping sometimes cause the salespersons are arabs now and have very little english skils). These were the problems in Jeddah. In Khobar its a whole new story. Evrybody in khobar speaks english. I actually have seen Arabs speaking in english with Arabs (i know i am sounding jugdmental but in KSA english speaking arabs is not a norm). When I came to KSA again after a break, I commited that I will learn the language this time for sure, but it seems that I wont need to again, who am I going to learn it for. I mean you normally learn a foreign language because you NEED to communicate. The great thing about KSA is that the country has accomodated so many nationalities. And MOST of the time they are welcomed by the people. But still I think I need to learn arabic just so that i dont have to roam the malls like this


  1. Interestingly you can get by shopping in Urdu/Hindi. Most shopkeepers are either Bengali or Yemeni and learn the words to make a sale :)

    But I do understand what you mean by living here and not speaking the language. I grew up in Saudi myself, and quite honestly, didn't speak much real arabic until I started working. It's all about being able to mingle with the locals here, which as kids we never get to do.

    Interestingly now, since I do have arab characteristics and speak Arabic, most people cannot tell I'm not Arab (I'll refrain from saying Saudi, because my accent is still too 'proper' to be 5aleeji)

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