A stark cultural difference that many Westerners will encounter in the Middle-East is the notion of certainty. This is result of different perspectives of fatalism.

Recently, we had an important deadline and we needed to send a document to the United States from the Middle-East. We needed a guarantee that the letter would arrive within three days by courier to meet the deadline.

The clerk in the postage office said, “Yes. It will arrive in America in three days. Insha’allah.”

From a Western point of view, it can sound unsettling or unconvincing if they hear a sentence with the caveat of ‘insha’allah’, in other words, the letter will only arrive within three days if God wills it.

From an Arab point of view, however, fate rests in the hands of God and so if the letter arrives on time (which it probably will), then it was thanks to Allah.

Many Westerners who have lived in the Middle-East are aware that it is very common to hear the phrase insha’allah and in many cases it does imply a degree flexibility.

So how do you convey that something is very important? These phrases can be integrated into your sentences to emphasise importance.

A nice phrase to use is:

… من اللازم
Min al-laazim …
It is necessary …

This little phrase can be used to emphasise that something is necessary. The root l-z-m conveys duty, binding and necessity.

بِالتَأْكِيد
b-il-takeed
With certainly

This comes from the root a-k-d and conveys the concept of certainty and reassurance.

بِالضَبْط
balDabt
With precision / precisely

If, for example, it is important that something takes places at a particular time, then it should be specified as ‘five o’clock precisely’ (Arabic: al-khaamisah al-sab3ah balDabT) rather than simple ‘at five’ or ‘fivish’.

أنت على الموعد
anta 3ala almaw3id
You’re on time!

Interestingly, the word for meeting comes from the root w-3-d which conveys the notion of ‘to give one’s word’ so from that root we have the words for meeting, promise and deadline!

موعد
maw3aid
meeting or appointment

This is the word you will use if you want to arrange a meeting with some one.

As can be seen, the Arabic language provides ample vocabulary and phrases to emphasise an importance on a particular message.