Middle East Languages and Locales: Essential Facts

August 28, 2014

Although the Middle East remains an economically, politically, culturally, and religiously sensitive region, due largely to the implications of the Arab Spring in 2011, the potential for growth and gains in the region is becoming stronger.


  • 3626_imageMiddle East GDP growth is projected at 3.6% for 2014 and 4.2% for 2015.
  • Gulf Cooperation Council countries have combined assets in Sovereign Wealth Funds estimated at $2.25 trillion ($975 billion held by UAE and 680 billion held by Saudi Arabia)
  • Population of the Middle East is expected to rise by 17.3% between 2014 and 2024.
  • Qatar's GDP per capita is projected to double between 2014 and 2025, due to low cost of producing natural gas and hosting the 2022 football World Cup.
  • Egypt posted the single-highest consumer confidence jump of all countries measured by the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence & Spending Intention in the 1st quarter of 2014.
  • By 2020, economic growth across the region is likely to shift away from the current emphasis on investment towards consumption, a natural sign of a maturing economy.


(Sources: AMEinfo.com, IC AEW, Nielsen)

Fast Facts on Middle East Languages and Locales

  • There are 19 countries that make up the Middle East
  • 66% of the world's oil reserves are located in the Middle East
  • Political systems include: conservative monarchies, left-leaning dictatorships, conservative autocratic republics, Islamic republics, and parliamentary democracies
  • The predominant languages spoken in the Middle East: Arabic, Farsi and Turkish
  • There are three primary language families in the Middle East: Afro-Asiatic, Indo-European and Turkic

(Sources: CIA, OPEC, AlterNet, Middle East Council, Wiki)

Approximate Number of Languages and Speakers

  • Afro-Asiatic: approximately 250 languages with 290 million speakers in the Middle East.
  • Indo-European: approximately 221 languages with 100 millions speakers in the Middle East.
  • Turkic: approximately 35 languages with 70 millions speakers in the Middle East.

(Sources: Afro-Asiatic, Indo-European, Turkic)

Middle East Maps


Middle East Countries:










Northern Cyprus




Saudi Arabia



United Arab Emirates (UAE)


Source: Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.


Note:  This map illustrates the primary languages throughout the Middle East.

Resource:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Middle-east-languages.jpg


Note:  This map lists different Arabic dialects and where they are found throughout the Middle East.

Resource:  http://www.vox.com/a/maps-explain-the-middle-east


Additional Resources on the Middle East and Middle East Language Translation:


Further Resources on E-Retail Translation and Localization

GPI has provided extensive language translation services to e-retailer clients worldwide. In addition, GPI has developed a user-friendly Translation Services Portal that makes it easy for users to submit projects for translation. You may also find some of our other blogs highly useful:

Please feel free to contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com or at 866-272-5874866-272-5874 with specific questions about localization or to discuss your project goals. You may also request a complimentary Translation Services Quote on your project as well.

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Natalie was born and raised in the state of Montana, USA where she graduated from The University of Montana with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. Her international experience includes two summer programs, one at The European Business School in Germany and the other at The University of Brescia in Italy. She studied a variety of global business subjects including international business, trade, culture and language. Key projects for her undergrad studies included meeting with executives from large corporations such as Lufthansa, Opel, and The European Central Bank as well as working with the design team on the marketing plan for the 2015 World Fair in Milan, Italy. She has a range of global event management experience including organization of the Annual Mansfield Conference on the Middle East and the China Town Hall meeting series. Her hobbies include yoga, cooking, reading, being outdoors and traveling.