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Qatar officially referred to as the State of Qatar is a self-governing nation situated in Southwest Asia. It occupies the tiny Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern shore of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and the other areas of its terrain are bordered by the Persian Gulf. A canal in the Persian Gulf separates the country from the island of Bahrain which is nearby. It also separates Qatar from sharing sea boundaries with Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar is a very small country occupying an area of only 10,360 square kilometers and it is very rich as it has natural gas and oil reserves. Its capital city is Doha and about 90% of its total population which is 2,000,000 lives in this city. However, note that approximately 88% of this population is made up of guest workers. These can be understood as people from other countries working and residing in Qatar for a short period of time. Most of these come from South East Asia, South Asia, and other Arabic nations. There are also a few Filipinos and Nepalis, among other ethnic groups.
A road sign in SalwaThe people of Qatar are referred to as Qataris and all are Arabs. Arabic is the official language of this country but most of them also use English mostly when carrying out business. This is used as a second language. Due to the multicultural composition of Qatar, numerous other dialects are also used in the country. These include Urdu, Balochi, Malayalam, Pashto, Hindi, Telugu, Tagalog, Tamil, Sinhalese, Nelapi, and Bengali. Some of these languages will be discussed in brief below.
Arabic Spoken in Qatar
As mentioned above, this is Qatar’s formal dialect. It is divided into two categories; Gulf and Standard. The standard Arabic is at times referred to as Al Fus-Ha and Al Arabiya or High Arabic. The Gulf Arabic, on the other hand, is also referred to as Khaliji and Qatari and it is divided into two other tongues, South, and North Qatari. Both categories are used and comprehended by other nations in the Middle East such as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Iran, Bahrain, and other nations near or bordering Qatar.
English Spoken in Qatar
English is used widely in Qatar and this can be attributed to the fact that Qatar was once a British protectorate. The government has even encouraged it as the second dialect after Arabic. English is also used as a de facto dialect amid Arabic and non-Arabic speakers. This is due to the fact that the country has guest workers from other countries such as China, Japan, Canada, India, South Africa, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines, and many other countries, therefore, English allows both the locals and the workers to communicate and as a result, it is widely used. It is, however, important to know a few words of any dialects used in the country as they can be very helpful. Learning a few Arabic words will make your hosts and some of the native you interact with feel appreciative and will be very happy.
Farsi Spoken in Qata
Farsi is at times referred to as the Persian dialect and it is spoken by Persians also referred to as Iranians. This is an ethnic community in Iran. This language is in the Indo-Iranian dialect family and it the official dialect of Iran. Farsi was introduced to Qatar in the 1900s when a small number of Iranians migrated to the country as boat builders. This population has increased a lot over the years to about 30,000 people and now Farsi is broadly used by people who trace their roots to Iran.
Urdu Spoken in Qatar
This is another widely used dialect in Qatar. This language, like Hindi, is a form of Hindustani language and it originated from the 8th to the 13th century under the influence of Arabic and Persian languages. Both of these languages have contributed a lot to the Urdu language with regards to formal speech and vocabulary. About 99% of Urdu verbs trace their roots to Prakrit and Sanskrit. The term, however, does not describe the Urdu people adequately as it is just a language distinction. These speakers are not an ethnic community but rather a group of ethnic groups who are broadly distributed across the world.
Most of the Urdu speakers are located in Pakistan where Urdu is the official language. However, most of them have migrated to countries in the Persian Gulf including Qatar in search of jobs and economic opportunities. Most of these are experienced laborers and highly educated experts. This group of people not only brought their skills to Qatar but also their culture, practices and language. Presently, Urdu speakers make up about 117,000 of Qatar’s population.
Malayalam Spoken in Qatar
This language should not be confused with Malay which is a dialect used in Malaysia. Malayalam is in the Southern division of the Dravidian dialect family. It is linked to Tamil language but it is influenced a lot by Sanskrit and not Tamil. Malayalam is among the 22 formal dialects and 14 regional dialects of India and is used by about 38 million people especially in Kerala and in the Laccadive Islands which are located in Southern India. It is also used in countries such as Israel, Bahrain, United Kingdom, Fiji, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Qatar.
The Malayalam speakers in Qatar come to Qatar as guest workers from India and as a result, they have brought their language with them thus spreading it in the country.
Balochi Spoken in Qatar
This language is spoken by the Baloch people who originate from Southern Pakistan. Their home is in the southern regions of the Sind and Baluchistan provinces. Most of these people have migrated to nearby countries such as Oman, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Iran, Somalia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar thus bringing with them their language and culture. The Balochi language is divided into three categories: Southern Western, and Eastern Balochi. All of these groups speak different dialects with different characteristics.
The Balochi speakers in Qatar speak Southern Balochi and they make up about 37,000 of Qatar’s population.
Pashto Spoken in Qatar
This is an Indo-European language originating from the Iranian branch of the dialect family. It is at times referred to as Afghani and it’s the official language of Afghanistan. This language is historically linked to the local people living in the Hindu Kush Mountains located in Afghanistan. There are roughly 50 to 60 million people in the world who speak Pashto and some are not only found in Qatar but also in the United States, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Russia, and Japan.
Pashto people, like other minority ethnic groups in Qatar, come as guest workers thus spreading their dialect.
Tagalog Spoken in Qatar
This language is spoken by the Filipino community in Qatar. Most of these people are either immigrants or ancestors of the Philippines residing in Qatar. The total population of Filipinos in Qatar is about 200,000 and they often work as domestic helpers, in the travel sector, or in construction. As of 2009, the Filipinos were believed to be the second-biggest community of guest workers after the Indians.
Sinhalese Spoken in Qatar
Sinhalese is locally known as Sinhala and is the local language of the Sinhalese community which makes up the biggest ethnic community in Sri Lanka. Sinhala is used as a second dialect by other ethnic communities in Sri Lanka. This language is found in the Indo-Aryan division of the Indo-European dialects and it has its own unique writing structure, the Sinhala alphabet, which is found in the Brahmic family of scripts, and a progeny of the old Indian Brahmi script and is one of the formal and state dialects of Sri Lanka.
Some of the Sinhalese speakers are also found in Qatar who came to the country in search of work. Their total population in the country stands at 37,000.
Nepali Spoken in Qatar
The Nepali language is used by immigrants from Nepal coming to Qatar. Most of these are guest workers, permanent citizens, and also descendants who have been born locally.
People from Nepal favor Qatar as one of the destinations to look for jobs and most of them are in employment in the construction sector. Most of them like other foreign workers are employed for unqualified jobs but Nepalis are now most sought after as compared to other communities. As of 2010, a total number of 9,650 Nepalis came to Qatar. Workers from Nepal have a reputation of being honest and hardworking.
An increase in the number of Nepalese immigrants coming to Qatar has been documented as most of them come to look for job opportunities. Presently, there are about 100 executives from Nepal in the country. An increasing number of employers in Qatar are presently indicating a lot of interesting in employing accountants, engineers, travel and hotel experts from Nepal. This has had a lot of influence with regards to the Nepali language as it has spread throughout the country and it will probably spread even more.
These are just a few of the major and minority languages spoken in Qatar. It is, however, important to note that while many Qataris use more than one dialect, it is quite rare for expatriates to learn Arabic thus causing interactions between the locals and the immigrants to be conducted in English. But as mentioned earlier on, learning a few Arabic words make the locals very happy and appreciative.