Are you just starting your Arabic language learning journey? Maybe you’re traveling to an Arabic-speaking country and want to learn Arabic words that will help you connect with the locals.
And even if you’ve been learning Arabic for a while, you might be surprised by some of the basic greetings used by other Arabic speakers around the world.
Traveling to new Arabic-speaking countries or speaking to people from different places, I’m always surprised by the diverse ways to say hello in Arabic dialects.
As in any other culture, it’s polite to greet people you know when you see them, be it casually or formally. Arabs say “hello” in various ways, and each greeting has a corresponding response.
Usually, an Arabic hello is expressed with a warm smile followed by questions about the other’s health and well-being. Let’s get into all of the different and colorful greetings that Arabic has to offer.
Hello in Arabic at a Glance
|Ahlan wa sahlan أهلاً وسهلاً||You are welcome|
|As-salamu Alaikum السلام عليكم||May peace be upon you|
|Salam سلام||Hello (casual)|
|Sabah al-kheir صباح الخير||Good morning|
|Masaa’ al-kheir مساء الخير||Good evening|
|Hayak allaah حيَّاك الله||Hello (formal)|
|Kif haalak? كيف حالك؟||How are you? (Saudi)|
|Kifak? كيفك؟||How are you? (Levantine)|
|Izayyak? ازيك؟||How are you? (Egyptian)|
How to Say Hello in Arabic
The word marHaba(n) مرحبا corresponds to “hello” or “hi” in most places.
Note: In some places, they use the technically correct pronunciation marHaban, while, in other places, they pronounce it marHaba, without the -n ending. Don’t stress too much and learn from context.
You can use marhaba as a friendly, casual greeting. It’s commonly used in most Arabic countries, in both formal and informal contexts.
The response to marHaba varies according to the context, level of familiarity, and dialect. Some variants of marHaba are “MarHabteen” مرحبتين (two hellos), “maraaHeb” مراحب (many hellos).
- marHaba مرحبا – hello
- marHabteen مرحبتين – two hellos
- maraaHeb مراحب – many hellos
- marHaban bik مرحبا بك – hello to you (addressing a male)
- marHaban biki مرحبا بكي – hello to you (addressing a female)
- marHaban bikum مرحبا بكم – hello to you (addressing a group)
Ahlan wa sahlan أهلاً وسهلاً
Arabs love to give visitors a warm welcome to their home or workplace, and may repeat ahlan wa sahlan أهلاً وسهلاً over and over, meaning “you’re welcome here”.
(Note: this is different from “you’re welcome”, the English phrase used in response to someone thanking you.)
You can respond in the following ways when someone says ahlan wa sahlan أهلاً وسهلاً to you:
If they are male, you can respond to him by saying ahlan biik أهلا بيك, and if they’re female, you would respond with ahlan biiki أهلاً بيكي. If you’re talking to multiple people, you would respond in the plural form: ahlan biikum أهلاً بيكم.
Arabs repeat such phrases to break the ice and to make guests feel at home.
- ahlan wa sahlan أهلاً وسهلاً – You are welcome here
- ahlan biik أهلا بيك – Welcome to you (addressing a male)
- ahlan biiki أهلاً بيكي – Welcome to you (addressing a female)
- ahlan biikum أهلاً بيكم – Welcome to you (addressing a group)
As-salamu ‘alaikum السلام عليكم
One of the most fundamental Arabic greetings is as-salamu ‘alaikum السلام عليكم , which means “may peace be upon you”. This is a very common way of saying hello in Arabic all around the world.
It’s a traditional Muslim greeting used in various Muslim-majority communities including Pakistan and Zanzibar.
Although as-salamu ‘alaikum is religious in context and associated with Islam, you do not need to be a Muslim to use it.
It’s the default greeting in many countries and is used as commonly as “hello” in English-speaking countries.
Greeting people with as-salamu ‘alaikum can narrow cultural gaps that exist and show respect for your host’s religion and culture. And wishing peace to another human being is a great way to start off on the right foot.
As often is the case in Arab culture, the response will be more elaborate than the greeting itself. The typical response is wa-‘alaikum as-salaam وعليكم السلام which means “and upon you peace”.
If you really want to impress Arabic speakers, you can try out the longer version of this response – wa ’alaikum as-salaam wa raHmat alaah wa barakatu وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته. This means that may peace, God’s mercy, and blessings be upon you, too.
- as-salamu ‘alaikum السلام عليكم – may peace be upon you
- wa-‘alaikum as-salaam وعليكم السلام – and upon you peace
- wa ’alaikum as-salaam wa raHmat alaah wa barakatu وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته – may peace, God’s mercy, and blessings be upon you, too
The phrase salaam سلام is an informal greeting and is a popular way to say “hi” in Arabic.
Salaam is used among friends and young people who are more flexible with their language. They may greet one another in a friendly way, sometimes waving their hands.
Here, the response will be more casual and warm. You will hear phrases like ya hala يا هلا (you’re welcome), hala wa ghala هلا وغلا (you’re welcome and precious to me), and hala wallaah هلا والله (you’re really welcome).
- salaam سلام – hi/hey
- ya hala يا هلا – you’re welcome
- hala wa ghala هلا وغلا – you’re welcome and precious to me
- hala wallaah هلا والله – (you’re really welcome).
Hayak allaah حيَّاك الله
Saying Hayak allaah حيَّاك الله is a formal way to say hello in Arabic, and is often used in Gulf countries. It means may God give you a long life.
Similar to as-salamu ‘alaikum, this greeting has religious connotations but is commonly used in Gulf countries, so feel free to add it to your repertoire if you feel comfortable doing so.
Use Hayak allaah حيَّاك الله when addressing a male, Hayaki allaah when addressing a female, and Hayakum allaah to address a group.
The typical response to this greeting is allaah yiHeek الله يحييك which means may God give you a long life too.
It is sometimes shortened to Hayak addressing a male, Hayaki addressing a female, and Hayakum addressing a group.
- Hayak allaah حيَّاك الله – May God give you a long life (addressing a male)
- Hayaki allaah حيَّاكي الله – (addressing a female)
- Hayakum allaah حيَّاكم الله – (addressing a group)
- allaah yiHeek الله يحييك – May God give you a long life too
Arabic Greetings for Different Times of Day
Sabah al-kheir صباح الخير
Sabah al-kheir صباح الخير is a common greeting that translates to good morning. This can be used anytime before noon, in both formal and informal settings.
You can respond to Sabah al-kheir in several ways, depending on your mood. The most common retort is SabaH an-nur صباح النور meaning “morning full of light”.
In Egypt, you can respond with SabaH il-full صباح الفل , which means “morning of jasmine” (not “morning of beans”, as I first misunderstood!) or SabaH il-ward صباح الورد “morning full of roses”.
In the Gulf countries, you may sometimes hear SabaHak bilkheer صبحك بالخير “may God give you a morning full of goodness” to address a male, “SabaHik bilkheer” صبحِك بالخير to address a female, and “SabaHkum bilkheer” صبحكم بالخير to address a group.
- Sabah al-kheir صباح الخير – good morning
- SabaH an-nur صباح النور – morning of light
- SabaH il-full صباح الفل – morning of jasmine (Egypt)
- SabaH il-ward صباح الورد – morning of roses
Masaa’ al-kheir مساء الخير
Masaa’ al-kheir مساء الخير means good evening but is used both in the afternoon and the evening.
Similar to sabah al-kheir, it’s used in both formal and informal situations. The response to this greeting mirrors the way you respond to sabah al-kheir.
Its equivalent is masaa’ an-nur مساء النور — evening of light. You can use this response during the afternoon since there isn’t a direct Arabic equivalent for good day.
As in the way you say good morning, in Gulf countries, you will also hear masaak bilkheer مساك بالخير to address a male, masaaki bilkheer to address a female, and masaakum bilkheer to address a group.
- masaa’ al-kheir مساء الخير – good evening
- masaa’ an-nur” مساء النور – evening of light
Common Arabic Greeting – How are you?
Asking “how are you?” isn’t exactly saying “hello”, but it’s a common follow-up question in the Arab-speaking world.
Similar to most cultures, it’s considered polite and respectful to enquire about the other’s health or to ask how things are going.
Various Arabic dialects have different takes on how to ask this. Let’s take a quick look at a few.
Saudi – Kif haalak? كيف حالك؟
kif haalak? كيف حالك؟ means how is your health and is similar to the way we say “how are you?” in English.
It’s commonly used after marhaba or as-salamu Alaikum. When addressing a male, you’d use kif haalak. For a female, you’d use keef haalik.
To respond, you’d say ana bikheer, shukran! أنا بخير، شكراً, which means “I’m fine, thanks!”.
Just as you’d converse in other languages, it’s proper etiquette to also ask how they’re doing. So you’d ask them wa inta وأنت, if they’re male, and wa inti وأنتِ if they’re a female. This simply means “and you?”
- kif haalak? كيف حالك؟ – How are you? (addressed to male)
- kif haalik? كيف حالك؟ – How are you? (addressed to female)
- ana bikheer, shukran! أنا بخير، شكراً – I’m fine, thanks!
- wa inta وأنت – And you? (addressed to male)
- wa inti وأنتِ – And you? (addressed to female)
Levantine – Kifak? كيفك؟
The phrase kifak? كيفك؟ “how are you?” is a more casual, shortened version of the Saudi dialect.
The phrase kif haalak (to male) turns into kifak and kif haalik (to female) turns into kifik.
To respond, can say mneeH منِيح which means “I’m good” or tamaam تَمَام which means “I’m great”.
- kifak? كيفك؟ – How are you? (addressed to male)
- kifik? كيفك؟ – How are you? (addressed to female)
- mneeH منِيح – I’m good
- tamaam تَمَام – I’m great
Egyptian – Izayyak? ازيك؟
izayyak? ازيك؟ is a uniquely Egyptian way to ask someone how they are.
If you say izayyak in other Arabic-speaking countries, they’ll certainly understand you and will immediately know you’ve studied Arabic in Egypt.
Use izayyak when speaking to a male and use izayyik when speaking to a female.
Some common responses to izayyak are kwayyis كوَيِّس which means I’m good and kullu tamaam كلّو تَمَام which means everything’s good.
- izayyak? ازيك؟ – How are you? (addressed to male)
- izayyik? ازيك؟ – How are you? (addressed to female)
- kwayyis كوَيِّس – I’m good
- kullu tamaam كلّو تَمَام – Everything’s good.
How to Say Hello in Arabic – Video Guide
Hello in Arabic – Final Thoughts
There are many ways to say hello in Arabic and greet others, so it’s important knowing how and when to use them correctly.
Phrases can differ based on certain circumstances or the people you are speaking to you.
Once you’ve mastered the simple hello, you’ll be able to open up the conversation to anyone you meet.
Want a simpler way to learn Arabic? Check out our comprehensive guide on the best apps for learning Arabic.
How to Say – Good Morning in Arabic
How to Say – You’re Welcome in Arabic
How to Say – How Are You in Arabic