Languages in Oman - What languages are spoken in the country?

Over the past few decades, Oman has opened its arms to tourists and expats from all over the world. It is not uncommon to hear Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Somalis, Portuguese and even Baluchis as they roam the streets of major cities such as Muscat or Salalah.

Over the years, it has become very cosmopolitan, and along with many other things in the country, spoken languages in Oman have also begun to expand.

The official language of Oman is Arabic


Oman stands out in the area of diversity in language and speech. The people are proud of their national language, Arabic, which is mostly spoken throughout the country. It is predominantly used and is their official language.

The presidents of Oman speak not only Arabic but also Urdu, English, Portuguese, Somali, Gujrati, and others.

Omani Arabic has several local dialects that are unique to different areas of the country, including Dhofari Arabic, Shihi Arabic, and Bahrani Arabic, which originated and was inspired by Northern Arabic.

They are very different from the Persian Gulf language because they were attracted to Hindi and Swahili, introducing a new set of terminology. It is interesting to find many languages that are found regionally throughout the country.

Native Languages in Oman

Native Languages in OmanAs in any other country, Oman also has native languages specific to the region. Inspired by Southern Arabic dialects, they are very rich in oral tradition.

In Dhofar, Shehri is the mother tongue; the Mehri tribe communicates in Mehri, which originated in the Middle East before Arabic was introduced, also spoken in Kuwaiti; the Harasi people in Dhofar communicate in Kharsuzi, and Hobiot is another existing mother tongue in Oman.

English is the most widely spoken language in Oman

English LanguageThe most common language after Arabic is English. If you are a tourist, then there is definitely no problem if you do not speak Arabic, because English comes to the rescue. People here have a good understanding of English and can speak it. In fact, it is the medium of teaching and learning in the institutions of the country.

Being a magnet for tourists, Oman now has signs and instructions in English, which makes traveling easier. The English-speaking population is growing everywhere in the country and its use is widely encouraged.

Baluchi is the second most widely spoken language in Oman

BaluchiThe other main language in Oman is Baluchi, which is one of the oldest Indo-Iranian languages. It is said that Oman is home to a huge group of ethnic Baluchi migrants, which has led to the settlement of the Baluchi population, and Baluchi dominance is a popular language.

It is known that the Baluch language is closely related to the Semitic languages used in Ethiopia. This language is written in Urdu-Arabic script and is known for its poetry.

Immigrant Languages.

Immigrant Languages.Arab countries, including Oman, which was found to be rich in crude oil, invited many workers to travel and work. The main populations that settled were Sindhis, Persians, Gujarats, Portuguese and Somalis.

Thus, immigrant languages are very diverse, which also contributes to the ethnicity of Oman. The country thrives on employment opportunities, having become a huge labor import center.

Oman is embraced by many languages and manages to stick to its native roots.

Indigenous languages

Indigenous languagesThere are several local languages that vary between regions in Oman. In Dhofar, a Semitic language called jibbali or shehri is spoken by a small indigenous population. It is spoken by Omani tribes such as the Shahra and Beit al-Shayk, which are usually nomadic or semi-nomadic. It is mostly a spoken language without any specific script or writing tradition.

In western Oman (particularly in al-Mahra governorate) the Mehri tribe speaks the Mehri language. Like Jibbali, it has a rich oral tradition rather than a written one. It is believed to have been spoken in the Middle East before the spread of Islam and the Arabic language. Today, the Mehri language is in danger of extinction.

Kumzari is also spoken in the country. It is an Iranian language spoken in northern Oman by fewer than 5,000 people. Other endangered indigenous languages of the country are Kharsusi from central Oman, Batari from southeastern Oman, and Hobiot on Oman's border with Yemen.

Because of the rapidly growing tourism industry in Oman, English has become widely understood. It is generally the language of business here. Road signs as well as official notices are written in Arabic and English for everyone to understand. But despite this growing trend, Arabic remains the official language.

It is slightly different from Arabic spoken in the Persian Gulf region because Omani Arabic was influenced by languages such as Swahili and Hindi, which reached its coast and incorporated certain words from these languages. In fact, there are six different dialects of Arabic in Oman.

Useful words and phrases

Although the country welcomes tourists and English is the medium of instruction in schools, it is a sign of courtesy to become familiar with some Arabic while traveling.

As Frank Smith once said, "One language puts you in the hallway for life. Two languages open every door along the way."

So, here is a list of basic Arabic greetings and phrases to learn before you go to Oman:

Basic Greetings

Hi - Marhaba

Thank you - Shukran

(In reply) You're welcome - Afwan.

Please - Min fadhlik

Sorry - Aasif

How are you doing? - Shnolik?

Forgive me - Lau samaht (men), lau samahti (women)

Goodbye - Masalama

What is your name? - Shoo Ismak (for men), Shoo Ismish (for women)

My name is Ismee

I speak English - Bihki inglizi

I don't speak Arabic - Mah bihki arabi

Peace be with you - As-salaamu-alaikum

(In reply) And to you peace - Wa-alaikum-salaam

God willing, Inshallah.

Useful Dictionary

Yes - Naam

No - La

Come - yallah

Go away - imshi

Good - Kwayyis

Not good - mish kwayyis

What time is it? - Kam as saa?

Which one? - Shu?

Important vocabulary

Hotel - funduq

Hospital - mustashfa

Doctor - doctor

Police - boulees

Embassy - safara

Food - akl

Airport - matar

City - madina

Market - souk

Money - fulus

Hot - haar

Cold - bareed

Today - al yoom

Tomorrow - bokhra

Yesterday - ams

Arabic, like most languages, has a certain syntax. Notice how certain phrases change when speaking to a man and when speaking to a woman.

When talking to someone of the opposite sex, keep in mind that communication between the sexes in Oman is minimal, and you must remain respectful lest your intentions be misconstrued.

When traveling in Oman, you should have no problem communicating with locals in English. It is spoken in the major cities and most others, to a certain extent.

Nevertheless, there's nothing like talking to Omanis in some of the local languages! Watch how their eyes light up when you address them in Arabic.

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