Which is the best country on earth to study Arabic?
We’ve always thought about it, haven’t we? After having decided to study Arabic abroad, we are overwhelmed by the number of choices available for study in the Arab World. For most students, this would probably be their dilemma: Morocco, Egypt, or Jordan? Here’s what an experienced teacher for non-native speakers has to say:
Short answer: Jordan
Morocco is a wonderful, vibrant, culturally-rich, and relatively safe country. However, it is less than ideal for learning the Arabic language because the Moroccan dialect is so unusually unique. For example, the Moroccan dialect is so different from that of other Arabs that subtitles are often required when a Moroccan is being interviewed on Arab television, despite the fact that everyone is speaking Arabic! Furthermore, you simply cannot rely upon just one dialect of Arabic. Most students need to understand at least two. I recommend choosing from the Eastern dialects: Egyptian, Gulf, and Levantine. You can easily live your life in the Arab world without understanding the Moroccan dialect. The same is not true of the Eastern dialects. You have to have a functional understanding of at least one or two Eastern dialects of Arabic to be successful.
Egypt would have been a good choice some years ago, but the regime’s paranoia, unanticipated turmoils, and the brutality that follows make it a questionable choice today.
So that leaves us with Jordan!
Jordan is, arguably, the best place to live in the Middle East not just for expats, but Arabs themselves. While it may not hold the same rich cultural history as Egypt or the relatively low cost of living of Morocco, it’s stability, infrastructure, and safety make it the best choice for students to pursue their studies! In addition, Jordan is a truly exceptional country combining beauty, history, modernity, and diversity. With its unique East meets West charm, it is easily one of the most compelling destinations for those seeking adventure, the discovery of new cultures, and leisure or relaxation. The people are especially friendly with expats and tourists and honor them as their own. The Levantine Arabic spoken here is also considered one of the closest dialects to Fusha (Modern Standard Arabic).
Furthermore, a range of international agencies, NGOs and developmental programs are based in Amman – Jordan’s capital, to facilitate their activities in the Middle East. For example, UNICEF, UNRWA, Red Cross, UNDP and USAID, all have bases here that provide humanitarian and economic support to the entire region. This is especially strategic for most students, as they often utilize these opportunities to do internships or dedicate their time to a volunteering program while still pursuing their Arabic studies.
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