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Languages spoken in Qatar

02 March 2020

Qatar is a West-Asian country, and, its population varies widely in culture and origin, with different groups using different languages. Apart from the ethnic languages of its native inhabitants, there are several foreign languages being spoken by the expatriate community. Immigrant communities within Qatar continue to speak their native languages too. 

Do you need to speak Arabic language in Qatar?

Arabic is the official language of Qatar, and is the country's local dialect. Majority of the Qatar population here use Arabic as their mother tongue. The Arabic spoken in Qatar is of two distinct and mutually intelligible dialects - namely, standard Arabic and native Gulf Arabic. These dialects used are due to the migration and interaction of citizens of Qatar with other Arab-speaking foreigners.

languages in Qatar

There are several actions taken to preserve the use of Arabic language in Qatar. The Qatar University switched its language of instruction from English to Arabic.

Arabic is used for all official purposes in business, daily communication and as a method of instruction in the learning institutes in Qatar.

Do people speak English in Qatar?

English is the second most used language in Qatar after Arabic. With its roots in the colonial era, English was used for official purposes during the British rule. Currently, although English is not an official language in Qatar, it is widely accepted as the second language in Qatar.

English has been introduced as a second language in schools, and it has gained prominence among the business community. The presence of expats from English speaking countries has also contributed to the growth of English language in Qatar.

English an official language in India and being spoken by many Indian immigrants and this further strengthens the role of English as a language heavily used in Qatar. Filipinos who form the majority of expats also use this language in Qatar.

Sign Language of Qatar

The Qatar Unified Sign Language is used by the deaf community in Qatar. Native to Qatar, this language is thought to be part of the Arabic sign language family. It was in 2001 that the government first recognized this language. The effort to create a Unified Sign Language for Qatar is an effort towards uniting the deaf community in Qatar with the rest of the Middle East by creating a common language. But, this is yet to get successful, as a standard sign language is yet to be established.

What other non-Arabic languages are spoken in Qatar?

The Petroleum industry in Qatar has drawn majority of the immigrants from South Asia and Southeast Asian regions. Given the diversity of languages spoken here, a lot of these languages are now used in Qatar too.  Among the non-Arabic languages spoken in Qatar, apart from English, are Bahasa, Baluchi, Indonesia, Hindi, Farsi, Malayalam, Sinhalese, Tagalog, Urdu, Nepali and more.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries.

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