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Languages spoken in Kuwait

02 March 2020

Kuwait is one of the Arab nations in the world, and hence, Arabic is the predominant language. The nation hosts a large immigrant workforce, particularly from Asia, who use English along with their native language. Expatriates constitute 70 percent of the Kuwaiti population, which translates into increasing language diversity in the country. The tourists visiting Kuwait are advised to know at least a few Arabic terms.

Do you need to speak Arabic language in Kuwait?

Modern Standard Arabic is the official language in Kuwait, but, Kuwaiti Arabic is used in daily life in the country.  Arabic is spoken by over 22 million people in more than 22 countries. Arabic is the language of the Holy Qu’ran, and of Arab poetry and literature. However, the spoken Arabic varies from one country to another. Classic Arabic has however, remained the same for centuries. In Kuwait, there are differences in the dialects spoken in rural and urban areas.

languages in Kuwait

Do people speak English in Kuwait?

English is the most widely spoken language in Kuwait after Arabic. It plays a significant role in the educational curriculum in Kuwait, with many schools making it compulsory second language. With increasing demand for western education in Kuwait, due to factors such as the sophisticated curricula of the non-Arabic foreign educational institutions in Kuwait and the need for an English foundation for advanced education overseas, English is almost compulsory part of education in Kuwait.
English is widely understood in Kuwait, and is also used in most businesses. Most of the road signs in Kuwait are both in Arabic and English, and even the business and restaurant signs are written in both languages.  Several media broadcasts in Kuwait also use English.

What non-Arabic languages are spoken in Kuwait, other than English?

The history of Kuwait includes historic immigration patterns. For instance, the Ajam Kuwaitis are nationals who trace their origin to Iran, and this group uses Persian, and they adhere to Shi'a Islam. Kuwait is a popular destination for South Asian workers, particularly the Indians and Pakistanis. So Hindi and Urdu are often heard here.

Just as is the case with expats everywhere, immigrants in Kuwait often establish communities, through which they keep their languages and cultures alive.

In short, some common non-Arabic languages used in Kuwait, apart from English, are Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Omani, Balochis, Tagalog, Malayalam, Sinhalese, Nepali and more. The Tagalog is a language with origin in Philippines.

Robin Vinod

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