Arabic At A Glance

  • Fifth most spoken language in the world
  • 290 million native speakers // 400 million total speakers
  • An official language in 23 countries and the United Nations

Known for its beautiful script and dialect variations, nearly three hundred million people across the Middle East and North Africa speak Arabic as their native language. Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world and plays a significant role in international relations and diplomacy with its status as an official language of the United Nations and other international organizations.

Given the enormity of Arabic, would you believe us if we told you that only one percent of college students have ever taken an Arabic class? That’s just 32,000 out of 21 million total students to have ever taken at least an introductory course. Yet the demand for Arabic speakers in business, in government, and in the development sector is higher than ever.

In the last 15 years, U.S. government agencies have expressed a much greater need for Arabic speakers to address the complex political, military, and economic questions surrounding U.S. engagement in the Middle East and North Africa.

But the government is not the only employer seeking Arabic skills. The same trend can be seen in the private and nonprofit sectors as businesses seek to better understand developing markets and organizations work across borders to develop institutions, improve economies, and educate the next generation. Still, the demand for Arabic-speaking professionals in the U.S. far exceeds the supply. Speaking Arabic will set you apart from your peers, no matter your professional field.

Learning Arabic will not only give you the opportunity to develop on-the-ground expertise in the Middle East and North Africa, you’ll learn how to cultivate local relationships—an essential component when operating in the Arab world. And the language will give you greater insight into the second largest religion in the world, a connection to the world’s greatest music and poetry, and the words to describe the incredible cuisine.


What can you do with Arabic?