How to Ask for and Understand Directions in Arabic

7 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Arabic Words and Phrases for Traveling

Exploring Arabic-speaking countries can be quite an adventure, but you need to know how to ask for directions in Arabic and to understand what you're told. After all, if you don't understand the directions, you might miss the very things you hoped to see.

The first thing you need to know is how to ask for directions. To get help you can say Men fathlek/fathleki [F] (Excuse me) or Hal beemkanek mosa'adati? (Can you help me?).

If you're standing around looking confused, someone might ask you Hal beemkani mosa'adatuk? (Can I help you?)

The following words can help you to understand the directions you hear in Arabic-speaking countries.

sharq (east)
gharb (west)
shamaal (north)
januub (south)
yamiin (right)
yasaar (left)

The following phrases might come in handy with asking for and receiving directions in Arabic.

  • ayna-l-baab? (Where is the gate?)

  • ayna maHaTTa matruu? (Where is a subway station?)

  • hal hunaaka markaz bariid qariib min hunaa? (Is there a post office nearby?)

  • huwa fii shaari' tuunis. (It is on Tunis Street.)

  • ayna as-sifaara al-amriikiiya? (Where is the American Embassy?)

  • hal haadhaa shaari'as-saadaat? (Is this Sadat Street?)

  • uriid an adhab ilaa . . . (I want to go to . . .)

  • anaa biHaaja ilaa taaksii. (I need a taxi.)

  • al-matHaf qariib min al-kaniisa. (The museum is near the church.)

Knowing the names of some common places or locations is often helpful when asking for directions.

maHaTTa qiTaaraat (train station)
maTaar (airport)
mustashfaa (hospital)
funduq (hotel)
masjid (mosque)
kaniisa (church)
maT'am (restaurant)
suuq (market)
maktab (office)
bank (bank)
sifaara (embassy)
markaz ash-shurTa (police station)
maktab as-siyaaHa (tourist office)
matHaf (museum)
madrasa (school)
jaami'a (university)
madiina (city)
shaari' (street)
muftaraq (intersection)
taaksii, sayyaarat ujra (taxi)
matruu (subway)
maHaTTa (station)
markaz bariid (post office)
Hallaaq (barber)
shurTa (police)
maktab as-siyaaHa (tourist office)
baqqaal (grocery store)
sifaara (embassy)
markaz (center)
maktaba (bookstore)
matHaf (museum)
masjid, jaami' (mosque)
kaniisa (church)
kulliya (college)

Specific locations are formed with the name following the type of place, as in funduq Hilton (the Hilton Hotel) or maTaar bayruut (Beirut Airport).

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The Essentials of Arabic Words and Phrases for Traveling

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