Being polite is important. It is rather simple to be polite in Arabic. Just learn some of these and use them, at the right time. And remember a few golden rules.
- If you refuse a gift, an Arab will insist that you take it (This insisting and refusing can go on for up to a minute, between Arabs). So if an Arab offers you meat, and you are a vegetarian, either eat it or have a good excuse (medical excuses are often acceptable).
It means more than hello, but its usage is very similar to hello.
Peace be upon you.
This is a very common greeting, although its usage is approved religiously. It is very common among Muslims; even muslims who understand no Arabic attempt to say it, whenever greeting someone. It's always better to say this greeting.
Only said when leaving someone. If you said this when you just met someone, it would seem awkward.
(May) God keep you in peace.
Often a reply to مع السلامة (ma`a alsalaamah).
ahlan wa sahlan
Usage: Expressing great happiness at seeing someone.
thanks a lot
Note this is not the sarcastic usage in Arabic.
I'm begging you.
Please help yourself (when speaking to a man).
Please help yourself (when speaking to a woman).
Same as above but when talking to a group, as long as the group is not all female.
How are you doing? You must know this saying, every Arab asks every other Arab of the same gender and his son this question.
Only used when answering "How are you doing?"
Of course its meaning is not that simple.
Often used to answer "كيف حالك؟ ", and said when good news is heard (like a relative passed their final exam).
Literally it means: Praise be to God, that is, when answering the above questions with al-Ham-du-lil-Laah, you're praising God for the goodness received.
"Hello", when talking to anyone
Polite and most common form. When talking to anyone.