Bahrani Arabic
Baharna Arabic
Bahrani Shīʿite Arabic
العربية البحرانية
Native toBahrain, Saudi Arabia[1]
Native speakers
730,000 (2019)[1]
  • Qatifi
Arabic alphabet, Arabic chat alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3abv

Bahrani Arabic (also known as Bahrani or Baharna Arabic) is a variety of Arabic spoken by the Baharna in Eastern Arabia and Oman.[2] In Bahrain, the dialect is primarily spoken in Shia villages and some parts of Manama. In Saudi Arabia, the dialect is spoken in the governorate of Qatif. In Oman, it is spoken in the governorates of Al Dhahirah and Al Batinah.

The Bahrani Arabic dialect has been significantly influenced by the ancient Aramaic, Syriac, and Akkadian languages.[3][4]

An interesting sociolinguistic feature of Bahrain is the existence of two main dialects: Bahrani and Sunni Arabic.[5] Sunni Bahrainis speak a dialect which is most similar to urban dialect spoken in Qatar.

The Persian language has debatably the most foreign linguistic influence on all the Bahraini dialects.[6] The differences between Bahrani Arabic and other Bahraini dialects suggest differing historical origins. The main differences between Bahrani and non-Bahrani dialects are evident in certain grammatical forms and pronunciation. Most of the vocabulary, however, is shared between dialects, or is distinctly Bahraini, arising from a shared modern history. Many Bahrani words have also been borrowed from Urdu, Ottoman Turkish, or English.

Examples of words borrowed from other languages

Bahrani dialect has borrowed some vocabulary from Persian, Urdu, Ottoman Turkish, and more recently from English.


Holes divides the sedentary dialects of the Gulf to two types:

  1. Type A, which includes the dialects of Sunni tribes that settled in Eastern Arabia between the 17th and 19th century, and the Huwala. This group includes the standard Gulf Arabic dialects of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and UAE.
  2. Type B, which includes the dialects of Omani Ibadis and Eastern Arabian Shia (the Baharna).

Bahrani Arabic (called Baħrāni by its speakers) shares many features with surrounding Type A dialects (e.g. Kuwait, UAE, Qatar). Some general features:


Bahrani Arabic consonants[7]
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain emphatic plain emphatic
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless t k q ʔ
voiced b d ɡ
Fricative voiceless f θ s ʃ x ħ h
voiced ð z ɣ ʕ
Trill r
Approximant l j w
Bahrani Arabic vowels[7]
Front Back
Close i u
Mid (e) (o)
Open a ɑ ɑː

See also


  1. ^ a b Bahrani Arabic at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Arabic, Baharna Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
  3. ^ Jastrow, Otto (2002). Non-Arabic Semitic elements in the Arabic dialects of eastern Arabia. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 270–279. ISBN 9783447044912. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  4. ^ Holes, Clive (2001). Dialect, Culture, and Society in Eastern Arabia: Glossary. BRILL. pp. XXIX–XXX. ISBN 9004107630. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  5. ^ Bassiouney, Reem (2009). "5". Arabic Sociolinguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 105–107.
  6. ^ Dialect, Culture, and Society in Eastern Arabia: Glossary. Clive Holes. 2001. Page XXX. ISBN 90-04-10763-0
  7. ^ a b Al-Tajir, Mahdi Abdalla (1982). Language and linguistic origins in Baḥrain : the Baḥārnah dialect of Arabic. London: K. Paul International. ISBN 0-7103-0024-7.

Further reading