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Language Schools for Expats in the United Arab Emirates

Submitted: December 2013

The national language of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is Arabic. Like with many other languages, there are various dialects of Arabic, each with their own nuances. The dialect spoken across the UAE is referred to as Gulf Arabic. Therefore while you can opt to attend classes in classical Arabic, if your desire to learn the language is due to its practical application in UAE, it is recommended that you learn Gulf Arabic. That said, you will definitely not be hampered if you choose to study Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). If your native language is English, you will be pleased to know that English is widely spoken in the UAE and is often considered its “working language”. Most government websites are displayed in both English and Arabic.

If you would like to learn Arabic, you can consider doing so formally at a language school. For a list of institutions which offer Arabic language classes and an overview of their courses, please refer to the following link below:


Many language schools offer a wide array of programmes catered to all individual purposes whether it be professionally or casually or if you are seeking the necessary qualification for their studies and even children. You can even choose courses which are tailored to your particular professional field.

Another factor that should be considered when selecting a language school is your learning style. You may feel more comfortable being taught on a one on one basis or you perform better in a classroom style setting. The former option can be more expensive but you should make your choice based on your strengths. Nevertheless, you should make enquiries from your potential school about issues such as student/teacher ratio, size of the class, general aptitude of students to name a few.

Many persons who are new to the UAE choose to study Arabic at Eton Institute which has locations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This language institute also offers tuition in many other languages should you require. For an overview of its course options with prices please refer to the following links below:

Abu Dhabi:




You can also learn Arabic through one of the universities of the UAE. For example, Zayed University at its Centre for Arabic Teaching offers beginner and intermediate courses for the public. For further information regarding these courses, please refer to the following link:


The costs of these language programmes vary according to numerous factors such as the course, length, skill level, and means of instruction amongst others. On average prices can range from 1,000 AED (basic course approximately 14 hours of instruction) to 6,000 AED (intermediate course with 90 hours of instruction).

In Dubai, for example, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding offers a 12 week course for 1850AED. For more information, please see the link below:


If the cost of attending a language school is difficult for you to manage and you are based in Abu Dhabi, you are in luck. There are free Arabic language courses for non-Arabic speakers offered by the government.

Please refer to the following link below in order to find out more about these free courses:


It should also be noted that institutions such as mosques may offer Arabic classes for free but these are mainly offered to persons who are interested in Islam.

If you are eager to begin learning Arabic before your departure, you can benefit from the wealth of online resources in Arabic instruction. The European Union through its Lifelong Learning Programme has funded an online resource for teaching Arabic called Arabic Online. The dialect taught in this programme is Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

Please refer to the link below in order to access this website:


For a few helpful basic and essential lessons in Arabic that you may want to learn before your arrival in the UAE, please refer to the following links:


It goes without saying that learning a new language can be tedious, so do not expect to become fluent overnight. It is important that you set your desired goals, whether it be casual conversation or business speak or native speaker aptitude. Whichever course you adopt, you just have to keep practising.



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