A Guide to the Days of the Week in Arabic

Ever thought about how to survive a week in the Arabic-speaking world? Whether you’re planning a vacation, dabbling in the language, trying to understand Arab culture, or just love picking up fun facts, knowing the days of the week in Arabic is an essential trick up your sleeve. Sit tight and let Playaling explain the nuances of weekdays in Arabic!

Days of the week in Arabic

More important than knowing the names of the days in Arabic is realizing that you need to wake up early and go to work on Sunday! So, get ready to say goodbye to your Sunday Brunch because Sunday is the first day of the week in the Arab world. Oops, and those late Saturday night outs? You’ll miss them too, but you can enjoy them on Thursday instead, which is the last day of the week in Arab countries. Or on Friday since Saturday is a holiday too.

The reason behind this is the fact that Friday is considered the holy day for Muslims, when many faithful go to a mosque to pray. In Arab countries, the weekend typically falls on Friday and Saturday. However, there are four exceptions among the Arabic-speaking countries: Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. These countries follow the French policy for their weekend, which is Saturday and Sunday. Not that long ago, Saudi Arabia and Oman actually had their weekend on Thursday and Friday, which they changed in 2013 to have more overlap with their neighbors and the rest of the world.

So, prepare for a total upheaval of your biological clock, and now you can move on to learning the days of the week in Arabic:

The names of the days of the week in Arabic have special meanings connected to numbers or the characteristics of the day itself. Once you get a hang of this pattern, you’ll have a nice shortcut to working out the days of the week in Arabic. 

Here are the days of the week in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA):

الأَحَدْ – Al-Ahad (Sunday): Comes from the Arabic root أَحَد-Ahad which means واحِد (one), indicating it as the first day of the week.

الإِثْنَيْنْ – Al-Ithnayn (Monday): Comes from the Arabic word إِثْنَان -Ithnan meaning (two), making it the second day of the week.

الثُّلَاثَاءْ – Ath-Thulatha’ (Tuesday): Derived from ثَلَاثَة – Thalatha (Three) representing the third day of the week.

الأَرْبِعَاءْ – Al-Arbia’a (Wednesday): Comes from the word  أَرْبَعَة-arba’a (Four) indicating the fourth day. Hold on, the weekend is now just around the corner.

الخَمِيْسْ – Al-Khamis (Thursday): Derived from خَمْسَة -khamsa (Five) marking it as the fifth day of the week.

It’s the last day of the week, a day for going out and having fun, and you can stay up late just like you usually do on Saturdays! Enjoy!

الجُّمْعَة – Al-Jumu’ah (Friday): Comes from the verb جَمْعْ (to gather) because it is the day people gather for the Friday prayer, making it a day of worship and rest in the Muslim world.

Friday marks the last day of the week and is an official public holiday in most Arab and Muslim countries due to its significant religious importance to Muslims. On this day, a special weekly communal prayer called “Jumu’ah” is held. During Jumu’ah, worshippers gather in mosques to pray collectively after listening to a sermon delivered by a preacher, (إِمَام). The sermon typically offers moral teachings and religious lessons that reinforce the faith of the believers and enlighten them about aspects of their religion.

السَّبْتْ – As-Sabt (Saturday): Traces back to the Hebrew word (Shabbat) which means rest or stop, aligning with its use in the Jewish calendar as a day of rest.

These names are not just markers of dates but are rich with cultural and religious meanings that reflect the heritage and traditions of the communities that use the Arabic language.

Tips for not getting lost in the days

If you want to memorize the days’ names in the Arabic language and avoid mixing them up, follow these tips:

  • Flashcards: Old school but gold. Write in Arabic on one side and your native language on the other. Quiz yourself at breakfast.

Days of the week in Arabic dialects

Though mostly similar to standard Arabic, the days of the week in spoken Arabic involve some variation:

Days of the week in Egyptian Arabic:

  • Sunday: يُوْمْ الحَدْ (Yom El-Had)
  • Monday: يُوْمْ الإتْنِيْنْ (Yom El-Etnein)
  • Tuesday: يُوْمْ التَّلاَتْ (Yom El-Talat)
  • Wednesday: يُوْمْ الأَرْبَعْ (Yom El-Arb’a)
  • Thursday: يُوْمْ الخَمِيْسْ (Yom El-Khamis)
  • Friday: يُوْمْ الجُمْعَة (Yom El-Gom’a)
  • Saturday: يُوْم السَّبْتْ (Yom El-Sabt)

Days of the week in Levantine Arabic:

  • Sunday: الأَحَدْ (Al-Ahad)
  • Monday: التَنِيْنْ (Al-Itnayn)
  • Tuesday: التَّلاتَا (Al-Talata)
  • Wednesday: الأَرْبِعَاءْ (Al-Arba’a)
  • Thursday: الخَمِيْسْ (Al-Khamis)
  • Friday: الجْمْعَة (Al-Jm’a)
  • Saturday: السَّبْتْ (Al-Sabt)

Days of the week in Gulf Arabic:

  • Sunday: الأحد (Al-Ahad)
  • Monday: الإِثْنِيْنْ (Al-Ithnayn)
  • Tuesday: الثُلُوثَاءْ (Al-Thulutha’a), الثَّلُوْثْ (Al-Thalouth)
  • Wednesday: الإِرْبِعَاء (Al-Erbe’a), الرَّبوع (Arrabou’)
  • Thursday: الخَمِيْسْ (Al-Khamis)
  • Friday: الجُّمْعَة (Al-Jum’a)
  • Saturday: السبت (Al-Sabt)

Days of the week in Maghrebi Arabic:

  • Sunday: الْحْدْ (Al-hd)
  • Monday: التْنِيْنْ (Al-Itneen)
  • Tuesday: التْلَاتْ (Al-Tlat)
  • Wednesday: لَرْبْعَا (Larbaa)
  • Thursday: لْخْمِيْسْ (Lkhmis)
  • Friday: الجْمْعَة (Al-Jm’a)
  • Saturday: السّْبْتْ (Al-Sbt)
How Tuesday is said in Different arabic dialects

Understanding the days of the week in Arabic is more than just vocabulary learning; it offers a glimpse into the cultural and religious rhythms of the Arab world. For example, the week starts on Sunday, making it a busy workday instead of a leisurely brunch day, and Friday, the holy day for Muslims, often marks the beginning of the weekend. Knowing these nuances is crucial, especially if you’re planning to travel, work, or engage with Arabic-speaking communities.

By aligning your schedule with the local week structure, you can avoid closed businesses on weekends, handle official matters more effectively, and even plan your social activities, like throwing parties, when everyone is available. This helps in avoiding social faux pas, such as planning gatherings on Fridays when many are attending mosque. Ultimately, mastering the days of the week in Arabic not only enhances your logistical planning but also deepens your cultural engagement, making your interactions in the Arab world more meaningful and respectful.

Keep visiting Playaling’s blog and learn how to say everything in Arabic!

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