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What does habibi mean? When and when not to use the term in the UAE


As a long-time period resident of Abu Dhabi, it handiest took me some months to realise that phrases of endearment withinside the Arabic language are often used right here in each private and expert circles.

Whether it’s in the course of a catch-up over dinner or a breakfast commercial enterprise meeting, affectionate monikers are exchanged among buddies and associates in a manner that wouldn’t possibly be suitable in western countries.

I located this out the tough manner on my final journey returned to Australia, wherein I grew up, whilst in the course of a dinner with “the boys” I commenced a dialogue with “my expensive Murad”. Murad changed into absolutely weirded out.

That said, even withinside the greater comfortable social spheres of the place there are guidelines of engagement.

For example, you may’t be losing the H bomb (habibi or habibti) withinside the first sitting. Also, in an Arab society wherein seniority is respected, there are some honorifics you may use to benefit the appreciation and kudos of your elders.

Here are 15 phrases to apply to widen your UAE phrasebook:

Akhy and ukhty

Meaning “my brother” and “my sister” respectively, this descriptor is larger than family. With friendship a top rate withinside the Arab world, do not be amazed in case you are graduated with the aid of using your mate to “akhy” and “ukhty” popularity in no time. Both phrases additionally convey weight spiritually, with Muslims advocated to name fellow adherents brother or sister.

Aamu and ammati (Aa-mu and Am-ma-ti)


These imply uncle or auntie, and are for use with human beings you are acquainted with. Those more or less two decades above your age qualify for a’amu or a’mati popularity. Anyone greater superior in age have to be called jaddu or jaddati, which imply grandfather and grandmother respectively.

Bash muhandis (Bash mu-han-dis)

An antique and fascinating deal with from Egypt, typically used for males, which dates returned to the country’s former Ottoman rule. Bash is brief for “basha”, a time period utilized by the Turks for the ones of a excessive rank, whilst muhandis is an Arabic phrase meaning engineer. Bash muhandis changed into to start with used to deal with certified engineers and architects — now it’s miles used for anybody who’s accessible with a screwdriver.


A time period of admire used to the ones frequently acting a service, whether or not labour-extensive or withinside the hospitality industry. For example, you’ll possibly name the attendant filling your fueloline tank or the waiter “boss”.

Duktoor (male) and duktoora (female)

You don’t ought to be a scientific expert to be a health practitioner withinside the Arab world. With a excessive regard for schooling instilled withinside the culture, this designator is likewise used to honour the ones who’ve finished a PhD. The identify right now bestows a stage of admire reserved for society’s intelligentsia.

6. Hajji (male) and hajja (female)

A time period of admire used for the ones who’ve finished the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj. Once they go back from their journey, it’s miles standard to name them hajji or hajja accompanied with the aid of using their first call. For example, Hajji Ahmed or Hajja Fatima. You can subsequently lodge to ordinary first-call foundation, however for the primary few weeks persist with the time period. The man or woman simply finished one of the maximum essential and gruelling obligations in their faith, in order that they need to be respected.

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Ya omri

While its literal that means is “my life”, it serves the equal characteristic as “Oh sweetie” or “Oh, honey”. It isn’t anyt any surprise this time period is utilized in Arabic cleaning soap operas in both romantic exchanges or scenes whilst a accomplice begs for forgiveness.

Habibi (male) and habibti (female)

Both imply darling, and may be used with buddies and excellent colleagues. It is one of the maximum extensively used phrases of endearments withinside the place, and probabilities are they’re the primary Arabic phrases found out with the aid of using a brand new arrival. But don’t drop it too casually. Familiarity doesn’t always imply intimacy and there may be nevertheless a code of admire to stick to. Don’t name your supervisor or expert acquaintance habibi or habibti, except you’re positive of the nice of your relationship.

Ya sahby and Ya sahbety

This is a well mannered and barely old fashioned manner of saying “my friend” for women and men respectively. Sensible and evergreen, this may be utilized in maximum social settings, but it’s miles encouraged to apply with the ones for your age group.

My expensive

The identify sounds alternatively archaic and too heavy for a relaxing conversation. Hence, it is a superb concept to be conservative in its utilization. It is to be deployed on a case-with the aid of using-case foundation and handiest to folks that deal with you the use of that time period first.

Ya mualem

The Arabic model of the hip-hop time period “OG”. A informal and funky manner to mention teacher (note: it’s miles all withinside the delivery), a “mualem” is that grizzly dude who has his personal reserved desk and holds courtroom docket at his neighborhood espresso shop. A more youthful cat also can earn the identify for both a perceived understanding or being absolutely the fine at what he does.

Ustadhi (male) and ustadhati (female)

Translated as “my teacher”, ustadhi or ustadhati is a Gulf honorific extensively used to deal with senior citizens. You can both use it singularly, or upload directly to the man or woman’s first call. For example, “Shukran ustadhi/ustadhati” or “Ustadi Ahmed/ustadhati Fatima”.

Ya albi or ya roohi

What does habibi mean? When and when not to use the term in the UAE

While habibi/habibti are usually pan-Arab phrases, ya albi or ya roohi are typically utilized by the ones hailing from the Levant. But as soon as again, with ya albi that means “my heart” and ya roohi “my soul”, they have to handiest be used with near buddies and associates.

Ya rayal (ya ray-yal)

An Emirati time period often utilized in conversations among males. Translating to “oh man”, it’s miles frequently heard in pleasant banter or as a time period of exasperation in the course of arguments.

Ya Ragel

This is the local model of “ya rayal”. Commonly heard in the course of that boisterous late-night time card sport withinside the espresso shop, it’s miles fine to maintain its utilization amongst buddies and farfar from the workplace environment.

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