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Movies & Series

If you enjoy watching movies, try finding some that interest you in Arabic and watch them. From personal experience, it seems that if I watch a movie with subtitles, I have a very difficult time listening to and trying to understand the Arabic (or other foreign language), because I am busy reading. And likewise, if I watch a movie in a foreign language with no subtitles, I work very hard to listen to every word in hopes that I will understand what is going on. It does help if you know what the general story is about, and the more you know about the plot, the easier it will be to follow along without subtitles, and to pick up new words. So, if your goal is to learn Arabic well, I would recommend finding movies, cartoons and/or TV shows that interest you in Arabic (without subtitles), try to find out the basic plot or idea behind them and watch them. You will be amazed at what you can understand, even if you don't know all the words. Additionally, you can watch movies with English subtitles, and then watch them again without. That way you know exactly what is going on, but you will be forced to listen to the dialogue the second time around, and you will probably learn even more.

There are a number of places to find Arabic movies. You can find them online (with and without subtitles) from places like Youtube and Istikana. Netflix has a good selection of instant streaming foreign (including Arabic) films for those with a Netflix subscription. Your local public library or school library may have movies in Arabic as well. If you watch movies online, it will be easier to pick up and learn Arabic if the sound quality is good. If you like Egyptian movies, there is a website devoted entirely to the famous Egyptian actor Adel Imam, where you can watch every film he has ever made (that is their claim anyway).

List of Middle Eastern Movies with Descriptions

UC Berkley has a large list of Middle Eastern Movies that you can search by country and get a description of the movie.

Below are a few Arabic movies on Youtube mostly with English subtitles (I don't know about quality or entertainment value of them all). Hassan wa Morcus was a great one in my opinion (the sound cuts right before the end, but there is also no dialogue at that point).


Enta Omry (My Soul Mate)

الأباء الصغار(The Little Parents)

This movie doesn't have subtitles, but it's a cute movie and you can probably follow along pretty well just from watching it, even if your Arabic is not very advanced.

Hassan wa Morcus

Wikipedia's description of the movie:

When the lives of Mahmoud, a Muslim Sheikh (Omar Sharif) and Boulos, a Christian Theologian (Adel Imam) are threatened by religious extremists on both sides, the Egyptian government inducts them into a witness protection program that requires them to disguise themselves as the Christian Morcus and a Muslim Sheikh, Hassan el-Attar, respectively.

When, unwittingly, they move into the same building, a friendship blossoms that must, along with a romance between the protagonists' children, withstand the difficulties of prejudice and social persecution.

Youtube video with English subtitles:

Here is a quizlet list of Christian and Muslim vocabulary, many of which you will hear in the movie Hassan wa Morcus:

Lemon Tree

Paradise Now

This one is unfortunately broken up into 9 different parts, but I believe it's all there, and with English subtitles.

Yacoubian Building


Cairo: a 70-year-old building of once-luxury flats with tenements on the roof. Zika, an aging libertine, feuds with his sister. Pius Haj Azzam takes a second wife, in secret, to satisfy sexual drive within religious bounds. Bothayna, poor and beautiful, supports her family, wanting to do so with dignity intact. Her former fiancé, Taha, the janitor's son, humiliated by the police, turns to fundamentalism. Hatem, a gay editor, seduces and corrupts a young man from the sticks. Two brothers, Copts, one a tailor and one Zika's factotum, connive for property. Allah is on most everyone's lips, and corruption is in their hearts. European values, both refined and worldly, provide a subtext.

Movie with subtitles: