Volunteer teaching skateboarding in Asira, Palestine.

My Arabic is by no means strong, in fact, the phrase I use the most is “msh fahamh” meaning “I don’t understand”. However, there are a few Arabic words that I use all day every day at the skatepark. Quick side note, I don’t read or write Arabic, for each of the words I’ll write the Arabic word spelt in English, the Arabic and the phonetic spelling.

Aintazar |انتظر | Aintathah

This means “wait”, which we use to stop the kids riding into each other or just getting them to share the space fairly.

Yla | يلا | Yallah

Yallah is super useful because it means “come on”. We can use this to encourage kids who are nervous, call people over or we can use it alongside “aintathah” (wait) to get the kids to take turns.

Iidfae | إدفع | Idfay

Meaning push, this one is really helpful when teaching kids who have never skateboarded before. Quite often their instinct is to shimmy the board along to keep going, which only disturbs their balance. Saying “idfay” and motioning encourages them to learn to push, giving them a solid foundation on which they can improve.

Bokra | بكرة | Buk’rah

“Tomorrow”. This one is an important one. Whether it’s explaining that we’ll have more stickers tomorrow, or trying to appease the kids that don’t want to stop skating when we close up for the evening, being able to say “tomorrow” is really useful.

Waqf |  وقف | Wakeff

Stand up/stood up. I have no problem with the kids sitting on the boards and riding around the park on their bums, I think it’s a great way for them to become familiar with the board and the sensation of riding along. However, when the kids lie on the board, head injuries can happen so, “waqf” allows us to tell the children to stand, so everybody stays safe.

Mumtaz | ممتاز | Mumtaz

Every kid needs encouragement and praise when learning something new. Mumtaz, meaning excellent is a great way to tell the kids they’re doing great, along with thumbs up and high fives.

Khallasna | خلصنا | Hallass

All good things have to come to an end, so being able to tell the kids that skating is finished for the day allows us to pack up, eat food and rest up so we’re ready to do it all again tomorrow.

The above Arabic words and phrases are the ones we use most, if you want a look at the other point of view, check out 5 things you’ll hear in a Palestinian skatepark, where you’ll find the kids’ most popular English phrases.

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