So last year I started doing an Arabic course because I was interested in the whole Middle Eastern conflict.
After the last exam from that year I stopped, because the Muslims there got a little too crazy for me after Charlie Hebdo, and because the course would only continue this summer and right now I'm studying Mathematics, and I want to be able to focus on my studies.
Because right now I've got the basics down from grammar, speaking and reading, I think I could continue studying it on my own. I might even do a minor in it. Now my question is, would it be worth all the effort?
Dubai resident here, work all over the region. Literally everyone doing business with you will speak english at varying degrees of fluency.
Is it important to have? Yes, in that it helps you to understand what people in general are talking about having presumed you don't speak it.
Getting to business-level fluency in Arabic will get you $$$ depending on the field, if you work in GCC, are white and can speak English.
Also Arabs can be very cliquey and snobbish, don't expect to get in with their circles just because you speak Arabic
Language itelsef is generally quite useless. Mix it with a real skill and you/it can become very valuable.
Most people doing business can speak English good enough, but communication is more than just speaking some words. You have to understand the culture and how to communicate in a correct way. Saying something that is natural to one culture might be disrespecting in another and it have and does cause major losses for international businesses all over the world.
Langusre also open doors.
The Arabs may want to do a deal with you instead of another person, simply because they feel more comfortable, trust you more and can go out after and talk more freely after the meetings and socialize in their native language. Especially the last part is very important in east Asian counties to build up trust and to seal the deal.
So learn language. It is fun and highly valuable.
What would you like to know about my experience in Dubai? Be specific.
Honestly, I can't advise on what minors you would want to take (I'm not from an American style higher education background). Only you can decide, here's what I'd consider:
- Post-graduation what industry do you want to work in? Is that industry in your home country linked to the Arabic speaking world, if so how? What companies in said industry deal with Arabic speaking clients - are these attractive employers to you?
- Would you want to work on projects and/or travel to MENA?
- Bi-lingual employees are valuable, if the business has any kind of international focus.
- Once you've learned 2 languages, learning a 3rd becomes much easier than learning the second
- Travel - Self-explanatory
- Presuming you're white - Whites fluent in Arabic are rare. If your skillset is rare, then you get paid more.
There's more to list here, both positive and negative; but I'd be laboring a point here.
Don't think it is worth it. Gf lived almost all her life in a North African country. Cant read or write it properly, basically mother tongue in french (which is way better). Also she hardly can converse with gulf arabs or other ME people. Every country has its own dialect, hell I believe a east syrian has problems talking to a syrian from the coast.