Arabic is a language which varies immensely from region to region across the Middle East which makes learning it quite a frustrating experience as most of the words learned in Palestine won’t help you so much in somewhere like Morocco!
That said, it still helps to learn some of the basic phrases, especially those to do with greetings. Moroccans say the same thing every time they meet each other and the formula is almost like a mantra.
Salaam Aleikum! (peace be upon you! = Hello)
Aleikum salaam (upon you be peace = Hello to you, too)
Le bas? (is everything going ok?)
Le bas! (everything is going ok!)
Biher? (you’re fine?)
Biher! Kushi Muzuyen? (yes, fine, I already told you didn’t I? But is everything good with you?)
Hamdulillah! (thanks to God, yes!)
Hamdulillah! (Thanks to God we can stop exchanging greetings and get on with what we have to say…)
And you can repeat that 20, 30 times a day with each person you meet.
Other essential phrases are:
Shukran = thank you
Enshallah = God willing. This should be said for any future plan including going to the shop to buy cigarettes. Because it’s all in God’s hands, right? It’s also a great way to respond to a persistent hustler who tries to make you to promise to visit his shop tomorrow, you’ll come right? Enshallah!
Bismillah = in the name of God. You can say this before entering a house or beginning your meal.
Bishal = how much? But let’s face it, you probably won’t learn enough of the numbers to understand the answer.
Happily, you can usually communicate in French, and sometimes in Spanish or English, too…