The Languages of Kuwait - Part 1

By Stacey
May 30, 2016 · 3 min

MSA, which stands for Modern Standard Arabic, is the State of Kuwait’s official language.

The Languages of Kuwait - Part 1 | One Hour Translation

MSA, which stands for Modern Standard Arabic, is the State of Kuwait’s official language. This is a language that’s written from right to left, so for many Westerners it seems like Mission Impossible! (and an interesting time for translators!)

The Arabic Language in Kuwait

There are more than 22 Arabic countries with a combined population of more than 200 million people, but we still hear westerners calling every language spoken in these countries ‘Arabic’; and of course this is not correct. The Arabic language varies from country to country and today it’s become a number of mutually incomprehensible dialects, so when Arabs from different countries speak to each other they’re actually using a combination of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), Egyptian Arabic, and some of their own dialects.

Classic Arabic (CA) is the language of Arab literature and poetry and the language of the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Islam. This language has remained unchanged for centuries – it’s the archaic form that was spoken between the 7th to 9th centuries. Modern Standard Arabic is the same as classic Arabic, except that it’s been adapted to modern needs and enriched with new expressions. MSA is the literary standard across North Africa and the Middle East and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Most official documents, magazines, newspapers, books and reading primers for small children are written in MSA. Everyone understands Modern Standard Arabic in the Arab world because it’s what they learned in school, but nobody speaks either MSA or CA in their everyday lives anymore. This

The Arabic language has been widely influenced by other societies and their languages throughout Kuwait’s history. In Kuwait we see differences between the dialects spoken in rural areas and those spoken in urban areas; however, most Kuwaitis now speak an Arabic dialect known as Gulf Arabic. This dialect, which is very similar to classic Arabic, is known in Kuwait as Khaliji, and in other countries by the names Khamseh and Al Hasaa, because it’s widely spoken on both shores of the Persian Gulf. There’s one obvious characteristic of Gulf Arabic and that’s the presence of some Persian words. You’ll find in Gulf Arabic that –

  • The letter 'j' is pronounced as 'y'
  • The letter 'q' is pronounced as 'g'
  • And the letter 'k' is pronounced as 'ch'

Below We’ve Listed Some of the Main Features of Modern Standard Arabic Writing:

  • Numbers are written from left to right, however, words are written from right to left;
  • Some Arabic letters change form depending on where they’re placed word – e.g. beginning, middle, end, or stand-alone;
  • Except in very rare cases, letters in both written and typed form are always joined together in Arabic writing;
  • The Arabic alphabet contains 28 letters and is derived from Aramaic script.


For all your Arabic translation requirements both to and from any of the languages of Kuwait, contact One Hour Translation today! The highly experienced translators at One Hour Translation are native speakers and are familiar with the different dialects occurring between regions. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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