Learning Arabic in Jeddah

Bismillah, alhamdulillah.

Learning the host language of a land you have come to helps your integration into that community. Learning Arabic can be quite a challenge to people coming to the Middle East, especially the Gulf. There are various challenges and this article describes my Jeddah experience with this:


The number of institutes in Jeddah teaching Arabic virtually border on zero. The one institute that exists is the Berlitz school of language which has various branches. One such branch exists on Rawdah Street on the corniche side of Madeenah road. The last time I enquired the cost of one-to-one tuition per month which was 60 hours of tuition was 10,000 SAR (Saudi Riyals). Unless you are earning a significant salary this is beyond the reach of most people who work in Saudi Arabia, including many western expats. The costs can be reduced by organising a group of learners though they had a minimum number of students.

Another source of language learning centres is the Saudi Telecoms Yellow Pages and search for language schools. These are mainly schools teaching English, but they will have a list of tutors who can probably quite easily teach the reverse.

Another option is the Jeddah Dawah Center. I have been told that they offer free lessons, which are geared to non-Arabic speaking converts to Islam. The group is an officially sanctioned group and posters advertising dawah lectures all over Jeddah in many languages can be seen on a regular basis. Sadly, as with many institutions in Saudi Arabia, telephone contact or useful information on the website advertising these services is poor. I have tried to contact them at various times and never managed to get through. There is nothing quite like a personal visit to the office to get an idea as to what is going on. A map and contact telephone numbers are available here.

The King Abdulaziz University used to offer evening courses for non-Arabic speakers though their website is not forthcoming with details. It is not  conveniently situated but is an option as the lessons are held in the evening. A ladies college called Effat college may offer a lead but the website does not advertise any Arabic lessons. Another college called Dar Al-Hikmah lists an Arabic course, though this may be taught in Arabic and be geared towards native Arabic speakers.

Individual Tutors

The other option is to hire a tutor of Arabic who will come to your home. These tutors usually self advertise with posters all over the place. The posters are usually stuck to whatever is possible in and around masjids. They are written in Arabic (مدرس اللغة) and will have a telephone number. The tutors are mainly non-Saudi Arabs, usually from Egypt or Sudan, who advertise their services. Their primary market is Arab children studying in school. This may sound puzzling after all ‘why would Arab’s need tuition in Arabic?’ – the story is rather long but in short they do as a result of the lack of formal Arabic spoken on the street and the generally poor standards in many government schools when it comes to teaching Arabic.

The other problem with the tutor is they may not be willing to teach females unless they themselves are female. Here it would be a good idea to tap into the pavement network and ask friends or even the person advertising at the masjid. The cost of 60 hours of tuition is significantly less and is around the 1600 SAR mark. This is the option that we have found to be most useful for us. Friends of ours have used the tutor, who speaks virtually no English, to help teach their children. The arrangement has been on the whole successful. The added advantage is that the tutors usually are well versed in the Quran and help children read and memorise the Quran.

Tutors are widely available in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madeenah, but you will need to find a contact who can lead you to them. This is not that difficult and you can start by tracing back from the adverts around masjids or ask for any acquaintances or friends of friends studying at the various Islamic universities or colleges.

The other option to locate tutors who have experience teaching English speakers is to contact the various International Schools. It is a Ministry of Education requirement that Arabic be taught in all schools for foreign nationals, known as International Schools. The standard of Arabic taught is not very high and the schools have provided teachers and lessons to fulfill the Ministry’s requirements rather than taking a genuine interest in teaching Arabic as a foreign language. Schools that are likely to have an English speaking Arabic tutor are: Jeddah Prep, Manarat, American International School of Jeddah, Thamer School and the British International School. You will probably need to visit the school inorder to meet the Arabic teacher but you can always try phoning and try. These teachers offer evening tuition to anyone. Their rates tend to be quite expensive at 80-100 SAR / hour, but they are open to negotiation depending on the consistency of the lessons. The Arabic tutor at Manarat, a Syrian male teacher, has gained a popular following with parents and is widely regarded as a good teacher especially with children. The link above is to the girls section, you should be able to get the boys section from there.


Finally there are the well known options of learning via the internet which I have not covered here. From the experience of expats in general here, even those who are quite well motivated usually for Islamic reasons they tend to find it very difficult to learn Arabic. The work life routine in Saudi Arabia is quite energy sapping and usually, as probably in most places in the world, learning an extra language outside work and family hours will prove to be an insurmountable task for many. If you have found a job in the Gulf, take a crash course or at least 6 months in a country like Egypt or Syria and learn Arabic before you come, you will be able to gain much more by doing this.


48 thoughts on “Learning Arabic in Jeddah

  1. Dear Sir,

    Please send me a name of an institute in jeddah which teaches arabic language to foreign nationals as I m very much eager to learn this gr8 language. my email is: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx and cell no. xxxxxxxxxxxx.
    I shalll be highly obliged for,
    thanx and regards,

  2. emuslim says:

    Dear Adil,

    A new institute has started Arabic for English speakers. I have no experience but there is someone called Chris you can speak to. His mobile number is availabe on the PDF brochure on their website (http://www.cec.org.sa/), the number is right at the very bottom of the brochure.

    Please don’t post your mobile numbers on the web as it is all posted up for public access. Please note I have changed my ‘virtual’ address to http://muslimami.blogspot.com/.

  3. umm khalid says:

    re: learning arabic in riyadh

    my daughters attend a wonderful madrassah in central riyadh called dar al dhikr. they study arabic, tahfeedh, and reading. it has both morning and afternoon/evening classes, all levels, wonderful child-minding facility, new muslims lectures, open days (tnext thursday 13 may insh’allah)

  4. emuslim’s comment is actually quite resourceful.

    I visited the CEC, Cultural exchange center (close to Al Baik Madinah Road). Its very systematic and looks promising.

    I havent joined a course there yet, so I wouldnt be able to comment on their classes.

  5. Nicolas says:

    Hi to all,
    I’ve been taking some lessons at the CEC and I’m very satisfied.
    I’ve been following the basic first class and I’ve learned a lot in few weeks.
    I recommand it 100%, taking into account that it’s very good and there is nothing else available in Jeddah.

  6. I came acroos this blog while searching for karachi. I too like to learn Arabic, may be some time in future and in Jeddah, Insha Allah :)

  7. hassan says:

    my name is hassan looking forward to learn & write arabic & i am located in jeddah ,place Al Hindiwah a new comer to saudi arabia from Bangalore, india

  8. emuslim says:

    Just the information as supplied here. Sorry can’t help with specifics. Have a look on the walls for private tutor adverts, sometimes you can hit upon a good teacher.

  9. Hafiz Haroon says:

    Dear Sir,
    Please send me the complete address of your institute,
    i want to take arabic learing class. Please guide me

    Hafiz Haroon

  10. Tarique Mohammad says:

    Dear Sir,
    Please send me the complete address of your institute,
    i want to take arabic learing class. Please guide me


  11. emuslim says:

    Thanks for the query. I don’t run an institution so sorry can’t help you there. Just read the post replies and you will get an idea where to try.

  12. Here are some details to the Arabic courses we offer in Jeddah. We have a twelve level course geared for the non-Arabic speaking foreigners of Jeddah. The Cultural Exchange Center also offers Arabic lesson programs that specialize in Diplomacy, Business Administration, the Banking Sector and Communicating in the Medical Field. We have experienced instructors who specialize in teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers and have been teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers in the United Kingdom, Russia, South Africa and Sweden.

    Our language classes are designed to:
    1. Provide an introduction for new students interested in learning Arabic at any level.
    2. Refresh those with a past knowledge of the Arabic language who may be traveling abroad or wish to brush up on their skills.
    3. Allow those who have taken classes previously to continue their studies.

    Placement Test Details:
    For candidates who already have some knowledge and background in Arabic, the Cultural Exchange Center offers
    a Placement Test that will allow us to precisely determine your level. The procedure takes an hour to complete and
    is by appointment only. Please call for booking and details 6637191.

  13. Zaib says:

    hi, i m from aziziyah, jeddah.. i want to know abt any institute who offers arabic language course for females or any tutor who can come home to teach a female…thanks

  14. Mohammed Abdul Aleem says:

    Salaam Alay kum
    Pls let me know where i can read and write arabic and understand Quran I stay In Bagdadiya Grabiya

  15. umibu says:


    i will be movin to riyadh shortly would like to know if there are any quran hifz schools/centres here preferably in olaya are

  16. emuslim says:


    Sorry can’t help you with that one, but I am pretty sure there are Hifz schools as Riyadh in general is more active on the dawah scene than Jeddah.

  17. Stacey says:

    Uff! I have been on the hunt for a place to learn Arabic and found it quite surprising how few options there are. I also find them extremely pricey. Please keep us posted if you come across any new finds! Jazak Allahu khair for what info. you were able to provide.


  18. Saarah says:

    Please help!!! Please let me know if there are any centers in Jeddah that offers Arabic courses for non-arab females. I am currently studying for medicine here and I will be doomed in clinicals if I cannot communicate in arabic.

  19. emuslim says:

    Thank you for your email Mohamed and the Arabic teaching offer.

    Disclaimer: Just to make it clear for anyone interested please treat this offer as you would treat an offer in a newspaper. The person should be checkd for references, agree your prices before hand, have a free lesson or two to see if you match, make sure you meet the person in the presence of others for your own safety. I do not knw the person except via this blog.

    Br Mohamed can you give some of the above details in your reply, it will help people if they know which city your in, your teahing experience etc.

  20. hi i am a female teacher in jeddah, i teach arabic for non speaker. if you need more detail please contact me through my email nanassh79@gmail.com

    Disclaimer: Just to make it clear for anyone interested please treat this offer as you would treat an offer in a newspaper. The person should be checkd for references, agree your prices before hand, have a free lesson or two to see if you match, make sure you meet the person in the presence of others for your own safety. I do not knw the person except via this blog.

  21. ALIYA says:

    I want to know that is there any hifz classes or schools, university etc for girls above 11 years in riyadh, saudi arabia. If yes can u please tell me..

  22. emuslim says:

    Probably yes but I am not sure. Does anyone else know? Also worth going on a Friday to the mosque if there is a femal section and just asking the ladies in the masjid.

  23. umm says:

    I want to know that is there any hifz classes or schools, university etc for girls above 11 years in riyadh, saudi arabia. If yes can u please tell me..

    Assalamwalakium sis i live in olaya and beside the masjid there is a hifz centre for girls and ladies ,,this masjid is behind fahd hotel ,

    also try DAR adh DHIKR..BUT I DONT KNOW ITS EXACT LOCATION…they hav hifz

  24. mohit bansal says:


    i am an Indian.. i am willing to learn Arabic language. for that i can come to jeddah also. please reply me with valid information .i didn’t find any information on your website regarding international students .i am really looking forward for your reply

    mohit bansal

  25. emuslim says:

    Thank you for your interest. I am not aware of any programs that cater for foreign students exceot through the Islamic Universities. Information on these can be obtained through your local Saudi embassy.

  26. danya says:

    salam alaikum my name is danya . i want to know about any institute who offers arabic language course for female which is not more expensive. plz rply first

  27. emuslim says:

    Sorry I am not able to help you with this regard. There was a recent advert in the Arab News for Arabic courses, perhaps you can ring the institute.

  28. Chris says:

    There is a school called, The Cultural Exchange Center, that offers classes to English speakers. http://www.cec.org.sa/about/about.html I took a few classes, but felt that the teachers tried to rush through the curriculum too quickly for me to really learn. It was a nice introduction to the language, but it wasn’t communicative teaching. I’d say that the first two classes were worth my money, though, as I got used to the alphabet got rid of a lot of my fear. I keep personal notes on the language now.

  29. emuslim says:

    Thank you for the ‘advert’ the usual caveats apply to anyone dealing with the above offer. Disclaimer: I don’t know who the person is and the usual precautions should be taken when dealing with such adverts – safety, clear agreement – time / money etc. All the best to all parties.

  30. emuslim says:

    There are many local private schools that run an Arabic curriculum. They are best joined at an early age to get the greatest benefit.

  31. Murtuza says:

    Salaam I’am a Muslim from India and would love to learn arabic which offers free classes please help me as i stay in jeddah

  32. misha says:

    Can you tell me any jamia in riyadh for girls to hifz quran for non speaking arabic girls please reply hurry

  33. Assalamu’alaykum.

    Hi, me too interested to learn arabic. Just landed in Jeddah.

    Appreciate if you can email me list of private tutors that you knew from your experience.

    Jazakumullah Khairan

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