9 Must-Know Arabic Business Phrases To Bring Fun To the Arab Workplace

Are you looking for a language that will give you access to attractive trade prospects, wealthy, business partners, and a rapidly growing consumer base? If the answer is a big fat YES (as it should be!) the time has come for you to learn Arabic.

Today, Arabic-speaking territories are major players in the global business world. In fact, according to the Power Language Index (PLI), Arabic is the 5th most important language based on the number of native speakers, the relevance of the language for diplomatic relationships, and the contribution of Arabic countries to the global economy.

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As you can imagine, learning Arabic is as challenging as it is important to be able to speak it. That is precisely why it is important to do it little by little. That is why, today, we have decided to present you with the best Arabic business phrases for professionals and entrepreneurs. 

  1. 1. الزائد أخو الناقص ‘alzaayid ‘akhu alnaaqis’

Literal translation: Excess is the sister of shortage.

When you have a craving for chocolate, it seems as if no amount of chocolate would be enough to satisfy you. Yet, if you’ve ever bought a giant bar all to yourself, you know that it can tire you out sooner than one would expect. As we say in English, ‘too much of something is just as bad as too little of it’. So, next time you are in a business meeting and someone is excitedly talking about selling strategies for 2024, you can use Arabic business phrases like the one above to bring them back down to Earth. 

Picture of a stresss man at work

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels

  1. 2. ضَرْبَة مِعَلَّم / مُعَلِّم ‘dharbat mi‘allim (mu‘allim)’

Literal translation: ضَرْبَة ‘hit/strike’, مِعَلِّم ‘expert’

If you’re just getting started in the Arabic business world, we hope you will get to use this expression very often. But most importantly, we hope you get to hear it just as often. Like most Arabic business phrases, the meaning of this one is difficult to guess by looking at every individual word. Idiomatically, it means ‘a well-done job’, so it’s one you can use to acknowledge your co-workers every time they do good work.

 

  1. 3. ديل الكلب عمره مايتعدل ‘dil alkalb eumruh mayatedil’

Literal translation: A dog’s tail will never straighten.

Have you ever tried to change an essential aspect of your personality? I have. Many times. Every New Year’s Eve, I come up with clichéd resolutions such as “I’m going to clean my flat more often”, or “I’m going to sign up at a gym”. But, to tell you the truth, I never do. Like we say in English, ‘a leopard can’t change its spots’. 

Arabic business phrases such as this one come in handy whenever you want to diffuse tension at the workplace. If someone has lost a file for the third time that week, you can join in an exhausting argument, or you can just sigh dil alkalb eumruh mayatedil and continue doing your thing.

  1.  4. شِدّ (شُدّ) حِيْلَك ‘shidd Hiilak’

Literal translation: شِدّ ‘tighten’; حِيْل ‘strength / force’

When you start a new job, there are always unexpected difficulties that put your mental stability to the test  —a difficult coworker, a ruthless manager, even an old printer that can smell fear and stop working precisely when you need it most! 

Arabic business phrases can be cheeky, but they can also be comforting. Idiomatically, ‘shidd Hiilak” means something like ‘be patient / keep working hard / don’t give up’, and it’s the perfect phrase to say (or hear) in the face of adversity!

  1. 5. تَحْت أَمْرَك  ‘that amra-k’

Literal translation: تَحْتَ ‘under’ أَمْرَك ‘your command’

When you work with other people, there are times when you can see that someone is in desperate need of a helping hand, but you don’t know how to offer your help without suggesting they’re unable to do their job. As it happens, there are Arabic business phrases for this kind of situation as well.

Next time you see someone nervously flicking through their papers in search of a lost document, say ‘that-amra-k” to mean ‘I would be glad to give you a hand.’ 

Picture of a woman asking for help

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels

  1. 6. لُقْمَة العَيْش ‘luqmat al-‘aysh’

Literal translation: لُقْمَة ‘a bite of food’ العَيْش ‘the life/living’

There may come a time throughout your career in which you just lose it. A time when you will find yourself throwing things across the room and saying: ‘This is it. I quit’. 

If you’re lucky, there will be someone next to you to comfort you and say nice things about your work. However, if there is no one around, you can use this Arabic business phrase meaning ‘make a living’ to remind yourself that, should you quit working, no one would pay your bills for you!

  1. 7. مَا بِاليَد حِيْلَة ‘maa bi-al-yadd Hiilah’

Literal translation: I don’t have a trick

When people do job interviews, one of the first things they say about themselves is that they are real team players. But let’s face it. Even the most helpful, team-oriented people have their own crises sometimes. There are times when we are so busy and entangled in our own problems that it’s just impossible to be of use for someone else. If you’re looking for Arabic business phrases that mean ‘I’m helpless right now/I’m unable to help you out’, this is the one for you.

  1. 8. التكرار يعلّم الحمار ‘it-tikraar yi3allim il-humaar’

Literal translation: Repetition can teach even a donkey.

If you’re a slow learner, you will surely find this one handy. When you’ve finally got the hang of a computer program at work, you can use this Arabic business phrase to show that you haven’t lost your sense of humour.

Isn’t it hilarious how Arab people find the sassiest ways to say the most common of things? Let’s just admit it: ‘practice makes perfect’ pales in comparison with its Arabic counterpart. 

  1. 9. على قد لحافك مد رجليك ‘ala ‘add lihaafak midd regleik’

Literal translation: Stretch your legs as far as your blanket extends.

We all have a friend that spends for than they can afford. This hilarious idiom is used in Arabic-speaking countries to call out spenders and remind them to ‘live within their means’.

Picture of a woman spending money online

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

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If you want to go beyond Arabic business phrases and start working on your fluency, send us a quick message so we can match you with one of our Arab teachers for a trial lesson.

Being native speakers of the language, our tutors will be able to teach you everything you need to know about Arabic business culture and help you with your pronunciation through lots (lots!) of speaking activities.