The precise origins of the Arabic language are unknown but it is certain that the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula were the first to use it in pre-Islamic times. With the expansion of Islam and Islamic culture in the 7th century AD, the Arabic language spread north, east and west..
The Arabic language is today one of the world's most widely spoken languages. There are some 200 million Arabic speakers in more than 20 countries. Arabic is the official language of many Arab nations in the Middle East and northern Africa, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia.
There are two types of Arabic, written and spoken.
Written (Classical) Arabic serves as the standard written language of all Arab nations. It is the language of the Holy Quran, the sacred book of the Islam, and has changed little over the centuries. Arabs use a spoken form of written Arabic for formal speech, radio and TV news broadcasts and in films, plays and poetry. This form also serves as a common spoken language for Arabs from all parts of the Arabic-speaking world who have their own dialects for every day speech.
Spoken Arabic appears in a variety of dialects of which the main ones are:
- Gulf dialect (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE)
- Egyptian (northern and southern) dialect
- North African dialect (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia)
- Shami dialect (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria)
- Sudanese dialect
With the increasingly prominent role played by many Arab countries in world affairs in recent decades, Arabic has become a major language in international business and politics.
In addition, the languages of many other nations have been enriched by Arabic. Many Arabic words will be found in the vocabularies of countries as far apart as Spain and Iran, Turkey and India. It was, after all, the Arabs who not only gave the world the word algebra but the branch of mathematics which it denotes.