Until recently, relatively few Westerners ventured to learn Arabic but with the growing importance of the Middle East in international affairs and as a major tourist destination, that is changing. 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu-Dhabi

Arabic is the official language of over 20 countries with more than 375 million native speakers. These are largely concentrated in the Middle East, but there are minority groups of native speakers throughout the world. It is also an official language of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and the African Union. In addition to native speakers, many more millions know Arabic as a foreign language since, as the language of the Qu'ran, it is understood by Muslims throughout the world.

Learn Arabic at The University of Birmingham and open the doors to a diverse world steeped in culture and embracing the future.

Additional information:

Arabic is entirely surrounded by myths. You must clear your mind of these before starting to learn the language. Here are just a few of those myths.

“The script is impossibly difficult, like hieroglyphics.” Not true. It has an alphabet of 28 letters. Letters are joined up. There are actually only 5 basic shapes. Writing goes from right to left, which for many people is easier than writing left to right as it involves pushing the pen, not pulling it.

“Arabic has too many exotic sounds, impossible to learn for foreigners.” Not true. There are only two or three sounds which are not found in English and these can be learned easily through imitation.

“Arabic has an enormous vocabulary: 400 words for a camel, 200 for a lion, etc.” Not true. Ancient poetry has a very complex and varied vocabulary. But the vocabulary of Modern Standard Arabic is no more complex than the vocabulary of any other modern language.

“Arabic grammar is impossibly complicated.” Not true. Its verb system is quite easy. For example, there are just two tenses - past and non-past.

Am I eligible to study Arabic?

Arabic is available as a credit-bearing module (optional or compulsory) and as part of our Free Language Course scheme.