Preparing a language trip to learn Arabic, go on vacation, or try expatriation in one of the Arab countries, cannot be improvised.
According to data from Perspective Monde, while in 1992, 368,126 people had emigrated to settle in the United Arab Emirates, the UAE immigration services recorded 3,331,000 settlements in 2007 and 2,141,068 new people in 2018.
More and more people are therefore tempted by a life experience in one of the twenty-two states of the Arab League.
Here are our tips for getting ready, taking some Arabic lessons, knowing which country to choose, and calculating your budget to go to North Africa or the Middle East.
The steps to follow to travel to Arab countries!
French nationals cannot travel to all the countries of the Arab world freely: a passport is always required and the authorities sometimes ask for a visa.
Immigration authorities may also require the possession of a return ticket or an address on site.
Several countries do not require a visa to stay in their territory for at least 90 days: this is the case of Morocco, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian Territories, and Kuwait.
First and foremost, the first step to be taken to visit the Arab-Muslim world will therefore be to obtain the visa if you wish to go to the following countries:
- Saudi Arabia,
- Comoros (visa on arrival),
- Djibouti (Visa on arrival),
- Egypt (electronic visa),
- Jordan (visa on arrival),
- Lebanon (visa on arrival),
- Mauritania (visa on arrival),
- Oman (visa on arrival),
- Qatar (visa on arrival),
Then the plane.
To find your plane ticket at the best price according to your dates, we recommend the Skyscanner and Momondo comparators, which are very practical to find the best offer.
Note that in addition to the visa, some countries require the possession of a passport valid for 6 months after the date of return : this is the case of Algeria, Egypt, and Iran.
A number of factors tarnish the reputation of these countries: culture shock, the place of women in society, armed conflicts, the terrorist threat, tensions linked to colonization, the revolutions of the “Arab Spring”, the Islamic law, tensions between Shiites and Sunnis in the Arabian Peninsula, civil war in Syria and Iraq, etc.
In all the countries where the Arabic language is among the official languages, it is Morocco which seems to us the most secure for traveling.
When preparing your trip, you will have to check the many areas to avoid, from Algeria to Oman via Saudi Arabia: often, the border areas (Morocco-Algeria, Tunisia-Libya, Iran-Iraq) are dangerous. do not cross them by land.
All of Libya, the western half of Egypt, the southern half of Algeria, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are the deprecated countries at this time.
What level of Arabic is recommended for traveling in Arab countries?
Depending on the country and the length of stay, you will also have to learn some basics of the Arabic language: learn to read the Arabic alphabet.
Why learn Arabic when you speak English or French?
First, because reading and understanding the alphabet makes it possible to be more independent, the inscriptions in Arabic not always having their transcription in the Latin alphabet.
Secondly, because it also helps to communicate with a native Arabic speaker by using his mother tongue: an effort that will undoubtedly be greatly appreciated by the locals.
For example, we can switch from literary Arabic learned in France (with our Superprof teachers, for example) to dialect Arabic (Egyptian, Lebanese, Tunisian, Algerian Arabic, etc.).
Some countries, due to the colonial past, have French or English among their official languages, but not all the Arabic-speaking population is French-speaking or English-speaking.
Choosing a Maghreb country in North Africa and Lebanon will greatly help Francophones: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Lebanon having been placed under French domination during the colonial era.
In Morocco, in 2010, 32% of the population was perfectly French-speaking and 60% of Moroccans are Arabic-speaking.
In Algeria, more than 35% of the population is French-speaking, 63.6% of the population in Tunisia is fluent in French and 45% of the Lebanese population is entirely or partially French-speaking.
It is therefore recommended to have acquired a small level of Arabic before leaving because even if French remains present 60 years after the decolonization movements, its percentage of speakers decreases as time passes.
Want to go learn Arabic in Jordan, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Oman?
If a long-term trip is possible, the royal way to achieve it is to enroll in an Arabic language school on site, to take intensive courses!
What if becoming an Arabic speaker and speaking Arabic fluently was a stepping stone to a new life?
There is no level specifically required to travel through countries in the Arab and Muslim world.
However, it is undeniable that a learner at level B1 or B2 (the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) will be more comfortable reading and speaking Arabic, than the most novice of neophytes.
To learn the alphabet, pronunciation, Arabic grammar or Arabic writing, you can of course learn on your own before going to Palestine, Beirut or Marrakech.
How? ‘Or’ What ? By consulting the courses of the Institut du Monde Arabe or those of the Language International site, for example.
What budget to plan for traveling in the Arab world?
But then how much does it cost, a trip to a country of Arab culture?
First of all, the obvious: the closer the target country, the less expensive the plane will be!
So we can go to Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, for really affordable prices: we find flights from 50 € and sometimes even fewer thanks to low-cost companies such as Ryanair and Wizzair.
Or how to feel the charms of the Orient less than 3 hours by plane from our French cities, while spending little money.
The cost of a trip to Arab countries is not necessarily high.
The criteria for evaluating your budget are as follows:
- Cost of the plane ticket,
- Possible visa price: between € 10 and € 100 depending on the country,
- The cost of living there (food, travel, accommodation).
If you can easily assess your budget for the plane ticket and the visa, how do you know what you will spend per day and per person on site?
The When To Go and Planner in Contresense sites offer good databases for finding countries where life is expensive or cheap.
It should be noted that purchasing power represents the number of goods and services that can be acquired with a given quantity of currency: for Westerners, it is much higher than for nationals of Arabic-speaking countries.
It is the differences in productivity and wages that explain the differences in the cost of living from one country to another.
In a country where wages are higher than elsewhere – in Dubai for example, income is higher than in Marrakech – companies increase their prices to pay wages and households can consume more.
Added to this is the state, which sometimes finances economic policy through taxes, which contributes to increasing the cost of living.
To get an idea of the cost of living in Algerian, Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, or Lebanese societies, economists compare the price levels in these countries with those in the Western world.
For example, the cost of living index – not to be confused with the general price index, which measures inflation! – is based on the cost of living in New York.
Egypt is, out of 130 countries in the world, the one with the lowest cost of living index: 22.36, which means that life would be 77.64% cheaper in Egypt than in New- York.
The Maghreb is, therefore, the cheapest region of the entire Muslim world:
- Lebanon: 61.65,
- Jordan: 59.22,
- Bahrain: 57.78,
- Palestine : 53.46,
- Oman: 52.59,
- Saudi Arabia: 48.37 (country to avoid),
- Iraq: 47.04 (country to avoid),
- Libya: 45.85 (country to avoid),
- Indonesia: 41.11,
- Iran : 38,26,
- Morocco: 35.53,
- Algeria: 32.38,
- Tunisia: 28.74,
- Syria: 28.31 (country to be avoided),
- Egypt: 22.36.
These indices are only indicative: even with a minimum wage, we can largely meet our needs in Beirut, while Lebanon is classified as the most expensive country in the Arab League.
Our advice for traveling in the Maghreb countries!
Here are some tips for travelers who are planning a trip to the Maghreb!
The Maghreb concerns Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, sometimes Libya and Mauritania, all of the Berber-speaking populations, as opposed to the Mashreq (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine), the Arab and Muslim world which does not is not Berber.
If one can travel to Morocco without being on guard at all times , it is unfortunately formally discouraged to go to Mauritania and Libya because of the risks of violence, aggression, armed conflicts and the associated terrorist threat. to Islamist jihad.
The Maghreb countries are of Muslim religion and are sometimes very far from Western culture. It will therefore be necessary to learn to respect the local ways of life in order to integrate among the population.
Here are some tips for traveling to the Maghreb :
- Respect local habits and customs,
- Take off your shoes and cover your legs and shoulders when entering a mosque,
- Not to use his left hand to eat, considered unclean,
- Don’t waste bread,
- Always accept an invitation to drink tea,
- Haggle over prices (in the souks),
- Drink bottled water,
- Do not criticize the Muslim religion,
- Not to be seen publicly, shamelessness is poorly considered.
In the Maghreb, it is Algeria – the largest country in Africa – where we should be most wary.
There is no need for a visa to travel 90 days to Morocco and Tunisia.
Very often rewarded for the richness of its heritage, Morocco is an essential tourist destination in the Maghreb.
We also recommend comparing the climates and weather of the regions in which you want to go: the Mediterranean or Atlantic coast, the Atlas mountains, the Sahara desert, and the Sahel, the plateaus, etc., make the weather very changeable. .
In the Maghreb, however, the best time to travel is spring and autumn, from March to June and from September to November.
What are the most visited places in the Arab world?
When you learn Arabic, it’s also to learn a culture and be able to travel knowingly in the most beautiful places.
Here are the 5 must-see cities in the Arab world where you may need to adapt to dialect Arabic:
Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran also have many surprises in store for modern-day adventurers!
Do not hesitate to get lost in the jewels of Arab civilization.
Our advice for visiting the countries of the Middle East
The countries of the Middle East are the stuff of dreams. We always think of sandy deserts and a total change of scenery in countries with customs far from ours.
But before leaving, preparation is essential.
Make sure you have a valid passport and apply for a visa depending on the country you want.
Don’t forget to prepare your bag well, because temperatures in the Middle East are much higher than in France. Consider the hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
The customs are also different from ours and you will be required to cover some parts of the body when entering public places.
Finally, in order to leave serene, do not hesitate to take out travel insurance. An accident quickly occurred…
Good reasons to visit the countries of the Arab world!
When you like to travel, the countries of the Arab world arrive quite quickly on the carpet. Here are some reasons that make you want a change of scenery in Arabic-speaking countries:
- The language difference,
- The difference in culture,
- The difference in religion,
- The landscapes,
- The climate,
- The change of scenery,
- The food,
- The history of the countries …