Dubai one of worst cities for English language - study


@Debbie, your logic is self serving otherwise how do you explain some of the top 20 countries with thriving economies that are staunchly nationalistic and where English is not as essential - countries like Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Argentina, South Korea, Turkey, France, Germany, Germany, Italy, Russia and Mexico. These G20 countries have not abandoned their national language for any trade or commercial reasons, far from it, it is incumbent on anyone who wishes to work in these countries to learn and be proficient in the language of the host country. Do you expect the throng of Greeks seeking jobs and a better future in Germany to use Greek instead of German???
In the UAE, there are people who have lived here for more than a generation who refuse to learn and speak Arabic, and who are determined to maintain communities that represent their motherlands, more than the UAE itself, just like citizens of Mexican origins in the USA, African origins in France and Asian origins in the UK.


Arabic is very much ingrained in most Arab societies from Mauritania and Morocco to Egypt and Sudan, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen and all Arabian Gulf countries except the UAE, it is only in the UAE that Arabic has been sidelined. I called a few five star hotels in Dubai to book the best hotel Eid deals and was shocked to be told by the operator that nobody converses in Arabic, even a couple of hospitals and many medical centers do not comprehend Arabic, and do not even have Arabic websites - this is just unthinkable in most countries and would be considered an affront to the nation. I cant imagine calling a hotel in China or Germany or Turkey and be told, 'Sorry Sir we do not speak Mandarin, or German or Turkish here'.


there is nothing shocking or negative about this. it is the way the uae is positioned. the uae's leadership and business community positioned the UAE and especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi as a 'global hub' and 'tourism destination' with iconic real estate developments sold to foreigners. Business naturally speaks the language of those that it caters. quite frankly the UAE's international-ness is its competetive edge. Which is why people dont like doing business in the UAE rather than - Qatar, Saudi or Mauritania!


That is why the UAE will host the 2nd International Conference on Arabic Language in Dubai from May 7 to 9, 2013 under the patronage of the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.


EF should focus on the quality of the host families they put the students in more than doing this research because many students from their exchanged program were not happy with their host families. As I was one of them, after one year attending the program, EF did not care to help the students as much as they should. It resulted in the pro-long psychological effects toward particular culture and race. Isn't this need to be concerned more?


I have visited many countries from Japan and China to Most European countries such Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Turkey and all of these countries' national languages play a major role in promoting their respective national identities and local tourism. Dubai and the UAE as a whole must do much more in promoting their own eloquent and sweet language Arabic. The cornerstone of a national identity is and will always be the national language.


I co-sign on that! There is no reason why internationalisation and preservance of identity should not go together. And expats in the country should do more to femiliarise themselves with the culture and language of the country. Even if they only plan to stay here for a period of three years or less, it will only make their minds richer.


What rubbish. Ranked below Kuwait! Really!
And yet Dubai continues to thrive and prosper, develop and modernize. Businesses from around the world are still flocking to Dubai to set up shop. Major educational and entrepreneurial conferences and summits are always held in dubai.
I guess we should expect more bashing now that Dubai is emerging once again as one of the most resilient cities in the world, while the "index keepers" languish in the misery of their failures.


@WHJ not sure how your logic works. Do you understand the whole concept of correlation and that his report is not focused on the UAE (shocking i know)
But I have some more data points for you. I share GRE scores already, and now I found the scores of GMAT that as you probably know tests both verbal and quantitative, first the good news. By country of residence UAE scores and average of 521, similar to the US. Most Asian and WE countries are in the 580 or higher.
The funny part is when you look at the country of citizenship, then UAE scores drop to 371, one of the lowest. Lower than Bahrain, Qatar or Kuwait
So yes, you score lower on every single standarized test I can find, I really find difficult to believe that all these tests are part of an "attempt to discredit Dubai"
Other people would be concerned at how poor the results. Not you.


@telcoguy. By the report's logic, Kuwait is a better tourist destination because they score better on the index. Really?!
Just because EF are forthcoming about the report's shortcomings doesn't make it reliable.
Do you see businesses and development projects being affected just because the unskilled labourers don't speak grammatically-correct English? Do you not see the advancement and the progress in Dubai in spite of this ridiculous index?
Have you heard of a business venture closing shop in Dubai because the people allegedly don't speak good English? Are you claiming that English proficiency among unskilled labourers will determine the level of FDI?
These attempts to discredit Dubai are useless.


1) The report is not a scientific research, that does not mean is "not credible". As a matter of fact they are most forthcoming than most other "reports" published in AB as they explain their methodology and the shortcomings.
2) How can you state that there is no impact on FDI? Have you checked the correlation between their score and the level of FDI? Oh wait, you mean for DUBAI... well guess what this report covers the whole world, it is only AB that is using Dubai in its headline to cater to the easily excitable crowd.
3) How do I know what? The interaction between the attendants to a summit and the vast majority of the population? With all the low-skilled stuff that are the backbone of Dubai economy and probably make a substantial chunk of this report?
4) Can you read? you are claiming this report is here to bash Dubai. I am asking you who is paying for this bashing? or is it coming from free, out of jealousy?
Oh btw, Kuwait scores higher than Dubai in the TOEFL results too.


@telcoguy. As usual, your reply is lacking in substance and credibility.
1) If the report is not credible then what's the point?
2) The report mentions the negative impact on FDI. My point: no significant negative impact.
3) How do you know? Did you attend the last Entrepreneurial Summit held in Dubai only a few days ago? Did you see the level of interaction?
4) You think this report is paid for by Dubai? Looks like you have privileged information, and quite an imagination I might add.


> What rubbish. Ranked below Kuwait! Really!
The report is not a result of scientific research, it suffers from selection bias as acknowledged by its authors. Still with all its imperfections is the best available tool to compare English language proficiency across places and over time.
> And yet Dubai continues to thrive and prosper, develop and modernize.
How is this related?
> Businesses from ... Dubai to set up shop.
Not really. But keep going.
> Major educational ... held in dubai.
Humm... that may have to do more with the availability of accommodation and travel routes and not with the level of English used by people who will never interact with the attendants.
> I guess we should expect more bashing now that Dubai is emerging ... misery of their failures.
So.... you think this whole index is just an exercise to make Dubai look bad. That is "interesting". Specially given how much Dubai has spent in PR over the last few years.
Who do you think is paying for this report?


The article should be named 'Dubai one of the world cities for Arabic'

Red Snappa

There may be touching 200 nationalities living in Dubai, however, English is only considered a vehicular-language, lingua franca. The percentage of the population for whom English is a mother tongue or first language is relatively small.

The population of the UAE at the end of 2010 was about 8.3 million, the percentage of Western Expatriates, at least in the analysis I read, a classification which apparently covers: Europeans (many of whom do not speak English as a mother tongue), Australians, North Africans (almost certainly no English mother tongue), Latin Americans (ditto) and Africans (some), was only 8.4%.

So it is unsurprising that spoken English is not as good. The language of most of the public sector is Arabic and there was a move afoot as I recall, to make residents learn Arabic to at least a basic level, although it has not been promoted as a major initiative of late. However, I would not say that communication was as difficult as they would have you believe.


ah.......Who issued the report? When? What's the credibility of that report? How are the criteria's were determined?


@ Ahmed "EF English Proficiency Index"use your favorite search engine to check out criteria. Its no big deal Ahmed no reasonable person would expect English language to be embraced to a high level in a Middle Eastern Country. Why should it be, its your Country when in Rome eh! : )


This doesn't surprise me. I've lived here for 15 years and although hundreds of nationalities live in Dubai, it is not "multicultural" meaning that most chose to socialize within their own groups who speak their mother tongue. I've also known some of my colleagues for the past 10 years who seem to have learned English to a certain level, and then don't continue to expand their vocabulary. They still make the same mistakes; they don't improve on their English knowledge because - I assume - they think "this is enough to make myself understood." I'm sure numerous Dubai residents feel the same...

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