Multilingualism and linguistic hybridity in Dubai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Multilingual language acquisition is the norm in Dubai. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the official language, Khaleeji dialects are used by Emiratis with friends and family, and English is the main lingua franca (ELF) and medium of instruction. In addition to this, there are over 100 other languages spoken in the city. However, the Orwellian principle of all languages are equal but ‘some are more equal than others’ (Orwell, 1945) undeniably applies to multiple domains. The languages which are ‘more equal than others’ include primarily English, and also Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). In this sense, these languages are more fully supported in education, official channels, print, and through technology. Despite the dominance of these primary languages, the linguistic landscape of the UAE’s most famous city could be described as a bottomless pit of complexities. Multiple forms of linguistic hybridity such as translanguaging (mixing of Arabic, English and other languages) as well as Arabizi (the use of the Latin script and numbers to represent Arabic sounds for writing) are reshaping Dubaian millennials’ language use and additionally influencing local identities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultilingual global cities
Subtitle of host publicationSingapore, Hong Kong and Dubai
EditorsPeter Siemund, Jakob Leimgruber
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780429463860
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge multilingual Asia series


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