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Oman - Speaking the Language

Oman’s official and national language is Arabic, although most people will have a good understanding of English, particularly in more urban and tourist areas. The country also has a number of minority cultures so languages such as Swahili, Urdu and Hindi can also be heard. English is often taught in schools as a second language. The growing expatriate population of the country means that there are quite a few languages which are used there on a daily basis.

Those who move to Oman for work will find that a great deal of business is conducted in English, so it may not be necessary to learn any Arabic, although it is always a good idea to learn a little of the native language. It is very satisfying to be able to converse with those of other cultures in their own language.

Many road signs, posters and notices will be printed in both Arabic and English, so a native English speaker will find it relatively easy getting around, although if heading off the beaten track you may find yourself in a more remote community where it is essential to speak at least a little Arabic, though some areas may speak a slightly different dialect of Arabic.

There are several language schools in Oman which can help somebody to pick up the language. For those moving to the country for work it may be worth asking the employer about language classes. Some larger companies may have a member of staff in-house who can provide some language lessons or they may be able to arrange a language course. However, prior to arriving in the country it may be a good idea to pick up a few phrases from a ‘Teach Yourself’ CD.

Arabic is probably a little difficult to learn as it is very different to western languages and most people are put off by the script, but with a little application and plenty of practise it is possible for most people to learn enough to hold a basic conversation in a shop or restaurant. Tuition is available in a variety of formats including private one to one tuition, intensive courses and evening classes. The important thing to remember is that there is no substitute for practice.

Watching television and listening to radio in Arabic can help to improve your language skills. However, it is also true that expats tend to stick together in Arab countries and it may be that most expats could get along quite well without learning any Arabic at all.

Read more about this country

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