Senior Language Lecturer Publishes Book on Emirati Arabic Proverbs

A view of an exterior of the New York University Abu Dhabi campus on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.

Press Release

Nasser Isleem, a senior Arabic language lecturer at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), has published a book on common Emirati Arabic proverbs. Popular Proverbs: An Entrance to Emirati Culture focuses on common Emirati proverbs in the language as well as their role in daily Arabic life and culture.

Popular Proverbs offers readers an exclusive glimpse into the integral role of proverbs in Emirati life and throughout all Arab cultures, revealing that the study of such proverbs as used by Emiratis offers a unique perspective on the beliefs and values shared among Arabs across the world.

"I have been teaching Arabic and Emirati dialect for many years in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and during this period I have come to understand and appreciate that Emiratis, like most Arabs, routinely draw on a myriad of popular proverbs in their communication with each other. These proverbs have endured the test of time and now reflect and influence Emirati heritage as well as the ways in which traditions and cultural norms are passed down from generation to generation,” said Nasser Isleem. 

Designed for learners and teachers of Arabic, the book provides a practical tool for incorporating Emirati culture into the teaching of the language, while also providing insight into life in the Gulf, as well as local Emirati societies and cultures. Through his work, Isleem seeks to challenge stereotypes existing for Gulf societies and promote integration across all cultures and communities.

“The transmission of cultural heritage is today central to Emirati society, considering the colossal transformations the region has undergone in the past decades. Hence, I strongly believe that in order to appreciate Emirati people's culture, history and societal values one should look to their proverbs," Isleem added.

Nasser Isleem is a pioneer in applying studies that examine the impact of using songs, proverbs, and other cultural expressions and components in teaching Arabic language. His previous publications include "Popular Proverbs with DVD: An Entrance to Palestinian Culture", 2008; "Perspectives: Arabic Language and Culture through Film", 2009; "Colloquial Palestinian Arabic with DVD", 2010; "Kalima wa nagham, A Textbook for Teaching Arabic, Volume 1, 2014, Kalima Wa Nagham, Textbook for Teaching Arabic, Volume 2, 2016", "Ramsah, an introduction to Emirati dialect and culture", 2015 and "Hakini Arabi, Colloquial Palestinian/Jordanian Arabic textbook", 2015.

More about Isleem's publications and work can be found on

Isleem was the recipient of the Tanner University Teaching Award; (UNC-Chaepl Hill) in 2012 and the Order of the Golden Fleece; (UNC-Chapel Hill) in 2011 and Student Undergraduate Teaching and Staff Awards (UNC-Chapel Hill) in 2006.

The new book is available online as well as at the NYUAD bookstore.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.