What Languages Are Spoken in the United Arab Emirates

free essayIs English the world language? Language is the ability of humans to communicate to one another by means of complex communication systems. Language only involves formalized sounds, signs, gestures and symbols and conveys thoughts and understanding patterns between the parties involved. The understanding of language over the semester has been of ultimate importance not only in terms of the pronunciation of words but also the understanding of the credentials of language.

According to Arabic researchers Atwell, Sharoff, and Al-Sulaiti (2009), for most Arabs in UAE the first language is Arabic. With years, the contemporary use of the local Arabic has become different from Modern Standard Arabic. In the same way, the local English spoken within the UAE is different from the English used in the United Kingdom and the United States. There are many forms of English with different pronunciation and versions. English is influenced largely by the American and British domination, used as the native and first language by British Council for developing socially and economically (Coleman, 2010). In the Arab world, English is presented as second language. The real source of English language is the understanding of the production of sounds from the vocal cords. Over years English has developed and rapid changes have been experienced through turning from complex to simpler and more understandable English variations. English originated from the UK and the US and spread through colonization, associations and socializing.

In the next chapter, the need for language development in English language development in the UAE will be emphasized.

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Languages Development in UAE

Language development in Arabian/Persian Gulf [conflicting region, referred as Gulf by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)] took place around the 19th century during the famous British trade with the six members in the Gulf region; these are United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (Charise, 2007). These states are all British protectorates established during the colonial era. The members were indigenous and there was a great influence of Islam in its religious and cultural activities. GCC Arab nations share a common colonial history and European powers have gained a control in trade, culture and commercial routes after it first gained its entrance into the Gulf after the collapse in the eighteenth century of the Ottoman Empire (Charise, 2007). British in the past used water ways as their trade routes to India and signed trade agreement treaties with Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai (part of United Arab Emirates) in 1835 (Charise, 2007).

According to “Country profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)” (2007), the United Arab Emirates comprise of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Dubai, Ajman, Ras al khaymah, Al Fajayrah, Umm al Qaywayn, whose citizens’ are referred to as Emirati(s). The capital city is Abu Dhabi City and it gained independence from United Kingdom in 1971 after it ended its long rule and treaty relationships (“Country profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)”, 2007). UAE consisted of Arabian Peninsula Sheikdoms and in the seventh century united into an Islam region (Charise, 2007). During the tenure trade co-operation between the UAE and the British there existed lots of piracy and the British campaigned to protect its maritime trade routes. The campaign for the British East India had good trade relations and used the Gulf as its waterways, which in the end led to British exercising supremacy in the Gulf region. The UAE population was about 4.2 million in 2005 with 6.9 percent of annual growth and with much of the population living in urban cities (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). The 20 percent of citizens are the UAE citizens while the rest are foreign workers mostly coming from Asia and equaling about 60 percent (“Country profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)”, 2007). The official language is Arabic, but there exist a mixture of other languages, namely English, Persian, and Hindi (English is commonly known as other language).

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The UAE has a free public education up to the university level with a low teacher to student ratio (15:1) (“Country profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)”, 2007). Mathematics and sciences are encouraged and the first introduction of these disciplines is at the first grade level for the government schools. It has 12 campuses with 75 programs or more and also it has a commercial arm allied to companies of multinationals, where they provide professional development and training courses (“Country profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)”, 2007). There exist international universities that are globally recognized for their training centers, development companies and research institutions.

The UAE is a principal producer and financial supporter of petroleum where Abu Dhabi is the largest contributor. The sector of the UAE has transformed from agricultural, fishing and herding to the modern state after the discovery of oil 40 years ago. Its income is a high per capita with trade surplus due to large quantities of oil products exported to the Western nations [English speaking nations]. Dubai relies on service-based wealth gained through tourism, telecommunication, real estate, media, construction and services of finance, which generate sufficient income for their economy (UAE Profile, 2007). The UAE economy is dependent of natural gas and oil, as the government finances infrastructure in Northern emirates, which are less productive in income contribution. There is a great deal of investments in the sectors of energy, and manufacturing of metals and chemicals. According to “Country profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)” (2007), the tourism sector is a key pillar of income for the Dubai emirate and needs to be guarded and strategically developed to keep the annual economic growth at seven percent. In the next chapter, the impact and influence of English language in the UAE are analyzed and stipulated.

English Language Influence in the UAE

To ensure improved international trade relations and economic integration of the UAE workforce requires skills of English language. Globalization demands English language. Is there any significant change with English? According to Pinsent Masons (2014), doing business in the UAE is prime important due to Western and European crossroads and sea connections. It is also important for having an economic foothold of the UAE is the place, as it has over 90 percent of expatriates. Many industries available can offer energy and human resources to enable global growth and offer a platform for trade, business and finance. Abu Dhabi with proven reserves of oil equaling 8 percent and natural gas equaling 5 percent will always attract international investors and foreign direct investments (Pinsent Masons, 2014). The following are the various influences of English language in fostering the UAE and international prosperity.

Immigrants’ English Advantage for Working

The UAE international migration requires migrants to possess skills of English language to allow for good working and communication in the workplace. Countries have invested heavily in educating their workforce about language development of more and more people and census about 900 million people seeking employment outside their original countries (Coleman, 2010). The result shows that there is a need for a better language communication between the migrant workforces. English is used in the work cooperation and communication with a large number of immigrant workers from India, Philippines and Pakistan (Charise, 2007). English is the link language. English has influenced the employment and increased the employability of immigrants leading to the UAE economic growth due to the availability of effective workforce.

Improved Governmental to International Communications

With the improved economies and need for wider communication between the governments, English plays a major role in the Gulf region. Multiple nationalities have language boundaries and the phenomenon of globalization in the international communication is vital (Coleman, 2010). The adoption of English language has led to the governmental interrelations with countries such as the US, UK, China and India.

Effective International Tourism

Through the UAE development of English language, the tourist arrivals have increased up to 922 million international arrivals (Coleman, 2010). The UAE, mainly Dubai, relies on tourists as an income generating service activity; they have invested heavily in the high end hotel, Burj Arab, the golden resorts, various casinos and commercial tourist luxuries. Through the development of English a dynamic commercial heaven has been created where there are sustainable charges in hotels, luxury houses and tourist attractions sites. The tourist programmes are established for training the UAE citizens in the hospitality industry to learn English through course books for the tourism industry (Coleman, 2010).

High International Educational and Research Centers

International student arrivals have increased in the UAE due to the students’ mobility to the country. In the past, students concentrated in the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA due to the good educational centers with English syllabuses. The use of English has encouraged the growth of intellectuals who can work, innovate and produce a creative generation for the country’s prosperity. According to Coleman (2010), in the international education to be gauged for competency in English language, the IELTS [International English Language Competency tests] are usually carried out for students wishing to join higher learning institutions if they are not native English speaking candidates, which they must pass to be eligible for visa given by country authorities. Young professional has offered improved human development and economical development in the UAE.

Technological Growth and Access to Information

According to Arab Social Media Report (2013), acknowledgment of the UAE of English language has led to the application of innovative approaches to technology and assisted the government to adapt to political, social and economical transformations. With technology there is a good governance and growth of communication through social media (Coleman, 2010). There is better service delivery in government organizations and at the institutional level through a better access to information by means of internet and the use of adaptive technology.

In the next chapter, there are given the challenges of English language in the Arab countries and is explained how to find the solutions for the challenges.

UAE Religion Support Islam Activities Challenge

According to “Country profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)” (2007), 96 percent of its citizens are of Muslim religion and the official religion is Islam. Strict regulation guides the country on Ramadan occasions abided by visitors and residents of English countries. The studies of Islam are a must to young children in both private schools for Muslim children and public schools for local children. The country is liberal towards other faiths in terms of societal and governmental attitudes. It is hard to impose other religions in the UAE due to strict penalties of deportation or imprisonment given to those who spread non-Muslim literature or practices. The educational levels in the UAE are high and 91 percent are literate through government devotion to ensure the country achieves full literacy (“Country profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)”, 2007).

Arab Diglossic Situation Challenge to Children

The Arabic diglossic situation in the UAE makes it hard for children to learn and appreciate their educational classes, which results to international employment crisis for the nationals of the UAE due to poor English communication (Fareha, 2010). Children’s grasp of the language is hard due to the continuous diglossic from their young age.

Poor Educational and Research Centers Challenge

In the UAE, most educational centres, cultural centres and social organization use Arabic in reporting their research, which locks out the international research community of English-speaking people (Atwell, Sharoff, & Al-Sulaiti, 2009). Interestingly, the world and Arab researchers are only allowed to publish their journals using English to ensure that they gain audience and its credibility internationally (Atwell, Sharoff, & Al-Sulaiti, 2009). There is a need for English to be implemented as the Third World preference in the economic model for the First World countries. The language has evolved due to the need for eradication of poverty and good governance, which foster development of the society.

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English Education Recommendations

The UAE education centers should focus on teaching Islam. The UAE has numerous researches and teaching institutions, about nine of which embrace English language skills (“World data on education: United Arab Emirates”, 2011). English language skills should be taught in entire scope of emirates but there is a poor grasp of the language. English will be well implemented if the young children are taught from the early years to adapt to English lessons and practices which they will employ in future.


In conclusion, through English study, there is a good understanding of key components of a language and its future in communication. English has grown worldwide to be the widely accepted and common language of communication in the spheres of science, business and education as well as personally by individuals. The UAE should not make English their official language because they need to maintain their Arabic culture, but for globalization to take place the UAE should embrace the English culture in their governmental organizations, education and research institutions and in their minds.

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