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The 24-point Pledge (Oath) of the 21st Century Leader

02 Feb 2011

There is doubt that the leader of today must outshine the leader of yesterday especially in this fast-pased 21st century in order to achieve desired results both personally and professionally.

Traditional Clothing in Kuwait and the Gulf

16 Dec 2010

A visitor to Kuwait, which is home to 100 various nationalities will notice a variety of clothing. This article gives you an overview of different kinds of clothes that Kuwaitis and Arabs in the Guld wear.

Common Kuwaiti Phrases

12 Dec 2010

If you want to break the ice with Kuwaitis, you need to learn some Kuwaiti Phrases that will help you achieve that. Here are the phrases:

Etiquette in Public Places in Kuwait

12 Dec 2010

Like it or not, every person is an ambassador of his race, his country, his culture, his town and his family. This article gives you some tips on how you ought to behave in public places in Kuwait. The main points covered are: dress code, gestures, generosity and speech. You are welcome to read and then write down your comments.

History of the Arabic language

09 Dec 2010

About 160 million people speak Arabic as their mother tongue. It is also spoken by millions of non-Arab Muslims around the globe. Find out more facts about Arabic in the article below.


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Tips on learning Arabic

09 Dec 2010

The Arabic Language


Arabic ranks sixth in the world's languages, with an estimated 186 million native speakers. As the language of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, it is also widely used throughout the Muslim world as a second language.  There are many Arabic dialects: classical Arabic – the language of the Qur'an – was originally the dialect of Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia. An adapted form of this, known as Modern Standard Arabic, is used in print and broadcast media, in the mosques, and in conversation between educated Arabs from different countries (for example at international conferences).  For general purposes it's best to focus on learning Modern Standard Arabic, for which numerous courses and textbooks are available.  There are also many local dialects, the major ones being Egyptian, Gulf, Iraqi, Levantine and Maghrebi (North African).  They vary to the extent that a Moroccan might have difficulty understanding an Iraqi, even though they speak the same language.  If you want to master one of the local dialects the only really effective way is to spend a few years in the place of your choice.

Learning to read Arabic is very easy, since it is a phonetic language, perhaps the only one. There are 28 consonants, some of which are unique to Arabic and difficult for foreigners to pronounce exactly.  There are also three vowels – a,  i, u – which can be short or long, depending on the diacritical marks above the letters.  These marks indicate the pronunciation and stress of the syllables, resulting in a phonetic language that can be mastered rather quickly.  However, although you may learn to read in a matter of hours, understanding what you have read is a different story!   

Learning spoken Arabic takes much more time and practice, but it is less complicated than Latin or German since there are not many irregularities in the grammar.  Arabic follows a root system, which is an unfamiliar to native speakers of European languages.  Arabic words are constructed from three-letter "roots" which convey a basic idea. For example, k-t-b conveys the idea of writing, such as kataba (he wrote). The addition of other letters before, between and after the root letters produces many associated words, for example: ki-TAA-bun (book), KAA-ti-bun (writer), MAK-ta-bun (desk), ma-KAA-ti-bun (desks), mak-TA-ba-tun (library), KA-ta-buu (they wrote), ka-ta-BUU-hu (they wrote it), ka-TA-ba-taa (they (dual, fem) wrote), ka-TAB-tu (I wrote).

The normal word order of a sentence is verb/subject/object. The function of nouns in a sentence can also be distinguished by case-endings (marks above the last letter of a word) but these are usually found only in the Qur'an or school textbooks.  Arabic has very few irregular verbs and does not use "is" or "are" at all in the present tense: "the king good" means "the king is good". Subtle alterations in the basic meaning of a verb are made by adding to the root. These changes follow regular rules, giving ten possible "verb forms" (though in practice only three or four exist for most verbs. For example, the root k-s-r produces:  form I kasara, (he broke), form II kassara, (he smashed to bits) and form VII inkasara, (it was broken).

If you decide to learn Arabic, consider the following recommendations:


1-      Start by learning how to write and pronounce the alphabet in the Arabic script. Becoming familiar with the Arabic alphabet, written and oral, is a very solid first step towards learning basic vocabulary and phrases.


2-      After learning the basics of reading and writing the alphabet, learn simple greetings and small talk either in classical or colloquial Arabic. With some commitment and determination, phrases and sentences to express yourself in daily interactions can also be mastered.


3-      Expand your vocabulary by learning words based on a three letter root. Unlike most European languages, Arabic does not have many words that resemble those in English, making learning slow at first.  But it becomes easier once you have memorized a few roots and their forms.


4-      Watch TV, listen to the radio, and read as much as you can to increase understanding, vocabulary and proficiency in pronunciation.


The rewards of learning Arabic are worth the effort as you will be able to experience firsthand the polite, positive and poetic manner of speaking and writing that is typical of Arabs.  The definitive goal worth striving for, however, is to experience the eloquence of the classical Arabic language, whose zenith is in the unparalleled majesty of the Holy Quran.






Why Islamic Lunar Year?

08 Dec 2010

Islamic Calendar


Why an Islamic Calendar?

Since before the time Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born and until the era of Abu Bakr (the first caliph in Islam), Muslims used to measure the passage of time in relation to important events in their communities.  For example, it is recorded that Prophet Muhammad was born in "the Elephant’s Year," in which a great army led by Abraha with elephants marched from Yemen to Makkah to destroy the Ka'bah – an attempt that God foiled. It was natural, therefore that early Muslims began to chronicle their events according to the first year of Prophet Muhammad's emigration to Medina (Hijra or Hegira) after due consultations among Prophet Muhammad’s companions.


Like today, the Arabs of the past followed the lunar calendar, and the names and order to the months have not changed since before the prophet's time. Although the arrival of the prophet in Medina was on 12 Rabi al-Awwal, or the third lunar month, the Hijri calendar, for consistency's sake, is chronicled back to Muharram, which is the first month in the Arab's lunar calendar.


Why the Hijri calendar?

It was during the reign of Umar bin Al-Khattab (the second caliph in Islam), that many events happened that were worth recording for reference, which necessitated a more accurate calendar than months and important event systems that were used at that time. It was also needed to facilitate planning. As a caliph he would often issue decrees and rulings to his governors and viceroys in various parts of the Muslim world, which would be followed by other explanatory letters or orders to ignore them for one reason or the other. This action created some sort of confusion amongst those governors and viceroys as to their sequence.  He eventually decided to fix an Islamic calendar to simplify the matter for him, his governors and Muslims at large.


Chronicling of the Islamic Calendar

There were many suggestions regarding the event to which the Islamic Calendar would be chronicled. Some of Umar’s companions, friends and great thinkers suggested chronicling the calendar either back to the birth of the Prophet or the beginning of his mission as a messenger or his emigration to Medina or his death. The majority of the Muslims were of the opinion that the Islamic Calendar be chronicled back to the year of Muhammad’s emigration to Medina. They gave many reasons for that, the most prominent of which was the tremendous achievements of Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims in Medina. The Islamic Calendar thus marks the birth of an Islamic community with political, economic and legislative autonomy under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad. The Islamic calendar follows the lunar months which are either 29 or 30 days. As such, it is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian solar calendar.


Hassan Taha 
AWARE Education Manager  






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