In 1974 in the midst of a growing U. S. interest in the Arabian Peninsula the Foreign Service Institute undertook to fill a significant gap in language learning materials: there was no convenient manual or speakers of English who wished to learn the Hijazi dialect of Saudi Arabia. Spoken natively by about two million people and understood and used by at least three million more, it is the most widely understood dialect on the Arabian Peninsula.
The Saudi Arabic Basic Course (Urban Hijazi Dialect) is principally the work of Dr. Margaret K. Omar of the FSI linguist staff. In two trips to Saudi Arabia she collected language material and conducted the linguistic research on which the Arabic passages and the grammatical statements in this volume are based. Dr. Omar has elsewhere expressed appreciation to our Jidda residents who were particularly helpful as sources of the Hijazi dialect material appearing in this text. One of them, Mrs. Ayesha Al-Marzouki, worked with Dr. Omar in Jidda at an early stage of the project and later reviewed the Arabic portions page by page with Dr. Omar in the United States.
Dr. Omar planned the book, selected the Hijazi materials, fitted them together in their present form, provided the English language glosses, and wrote the explanatory passages. Consultation with a number of specialists in the field assured the accuracy of the work. Dr. Mahmoud Sieny of the University of Riyadh provided counsel on the design and content of the manuscript in its early stages and reviewed it again when it was in its final form. The manuscript also had the
benefit of study and comment by Dr. Peter Abboud of the University of Texas, Dr. Ernest Adbel-Massih of the University of Michigan and Dr. Hemdi Qafisheh of the University of Arizona.
Dr. Harlie L. Smith of the FSI linguist staff made helpful suggestions as to form and Mr. Naim Owais, FSI Arabic language instructor, edited the Arabic language content. Mr. Augustus A. Koski edited the English language content and provided support and assistance to Dr. Omar from the earliest stages of planning through the submission of the manuscript for publication.
Modern Standard Arabic has developed out of Classical Arabic, the language of the Quran. During the era of the caliphate,Classical Arabic was the language used for all religious, cultural, administrative and scholarly purposes.
Modern Standard Arabic is the official Arabic language. It can be written and spoken, and there is no difference between the written and the spoken form.
In its written form, Modern Standard Arabic is the language of literature and the media. Books, newspapers, magazines, official documents, private and business correspondence, street signs and shop signs - all are written in Modern Standard Arabic.
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD. This includes both the literary language and varieties of Arabic spoken in a wide arc of territory stretching across the Middle East and North Africa. Some of the spoken varieties are mutually unintelligible, both written and orally, and the varieties as a whole constitute a sociolinguistic language. This means that on purely linguistic grounds they would likely be considered to constitute more than one language, but are commonly grouped together as a single language for political and/or ethnic reasons (see below). If considered multiple languages, it is unclear how many languages there would be, as the spoken varieties form a dialect chain with no clear boundaries. If Arabic is considered a single language, it perhaps is spoken by as many as 280 million first language speakers, making it one of the half dozen most populous languages in the world. If considered separate languages, the most-spoken variety would most likely be Egyptian Arabic, with 54 million native speakers still greater than any other Semitic language.
Arabic Hijazi Dialect is spoken in: Saudi Arabia
Arabic Hijazi Dialect has no known alternate names.