Which MENA Languages Matter to Your Business?

The Middle East and North Africa or the MENA region is home to the most interesting and lucrative markets in the world. The region is resource-rich and is the hub of various industries ranging from energy to finance to technology. 

In this write-up, we will try to cover which nations make up this economically-volatile MENA region, as well as the top languages people speak there. We will also take a look at how these languages can prove to be useful for your expansion into the region.

Countries of the MENA region

Which countries are present in the MENA region? Depending on where one draws the boundary of the MENA region, we can have multiple answers to this question. It also depends on who is answering the question. However, we will enlist here the most common counties and states that make up this region. 

These are Egypt, Bahrain, Djibouti, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel, Libya, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen, and UAE. This list contains 20 counties which are the major countries of the MENA region. However, there also exists a broader definition of the region which goes on to include countries like Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Suda, and Somalia. 

As you begin to review this list of countries, you will find that many of them are regularly making headlines for conflict and war. Such as countries like Libya, Syria, Palestine, and Israel. These conflicts led to devastating outcomes in the region and contributed to the largest refugee crisis there. When COVID-19 hit the MENA region countries, it doubled and even tripped the woes of many nations. The shocks of the pandemic remained very evident throughout 2020 and beyond. However, the region is now findings its feet for economic recovery and is set to flourish in the coming years. There are some countries like Morocco that utilized the COVID-crises as a catalyst for reform. Thus, the country started social resilience initiatives that aim to strengthen Morocco for many years to come. 

Popular languages in the MENA region

So many diverse populations live in the MENA region and they speak nearly 60 languages. But the most dominant of all these languages are:

  • Arabic
  • Farsi
  • Hebrew


More than 230 million people in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Oman, Jordan, and Lebanon speak Arabic. This makes professional Arabic translation very popular among global businesses.

According to research, the MENA region is also one of the rapidly growing regions as far as internet news is concerned. Interestingly, 0.8% of all the content present on the websites is in the Arabic language. Similarly, the British Council reports list Arabic as one of the most important languages of the future.

While this may entice you to consider arabic translation services for your business, be aware that Arabic isn’t just one language. There are various varieties and dialects which make this language complicated. Having this complex nature, the Arabic language is bound to leave inexperienced linguists confused. Writing format and text expansions are some other challenges that translators face while dealing with Arabic translations. 

Add to this the poetic and figurative nature of the Arabic language and translations become even more difficult. You can’t afford just literal translations of your business otherwise it will meet with ruin. Therefore, always try to find the right partner if you want to ensure success in Arabic translations. Which will give your business a boost in the MENA region.


Faris (or Persian) is another main language of the MENA region. The language has about 80 million speakers. These people live in Iran as well as Iraq, Turkey, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and more. The people of Iran call this language Farsi while Afghans name it Dari. Similarly, it’s known as Tajik among Tajikistan communities. Since different countries have different names around the language, you will have to decide for which dialect or variation you need professional Farsi translation for your business. 

Businesses that want to enter Iran would find farsi translation services extremely useful because Farsi is the official language of Iran. Speaking about Iran, it’s a geographically diverse nation and has a lot of potential, especially for industries like travel and tourism.  


The Hebrew language has at least 10 million speakers and most of them live in Israel and Palestine. When you consider professional translation company in Hebrew, you would not only hit the mark in the MENA region but beyond that. The country outside the MENA region with the second-largest Hebrew community in the world is the United States itself. Other countries on the list include Brazil, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and Argentina.

Doing business in the MENA region

The vast majority of people in the MENA countries speak Arabic as their native language. Then there are Farsi and Hebrew. Turkish is another popular language in the region – which is spoken across Turkey, Cyprus, and some parts of Iraq and Syria. 

If you want to launch your business in the MENA region, do your homework properly. Understand your business needs and study all the linguistic and cultural requirements in your country of interest. Consider which target market would bring the best return on investment. And when you need expert assistance for translating and localizing your business for a particular, you can always find many reputable linguistic services online that would make sure your target audience understands your messaging as well as your products and services, so you can enjoy the best business benefits in the MENA region and beyond.