Arabic is spoken by an estimated 420 million people throughout the world. It is predominant in the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. Formal written Arabic has been standardized into what is known as "Modern Standard Arabic."

Arabic's spoken dialects vary considerably from region to region. These regional spoken dialects, along with Modern Standard Arabic’s written form, are both commonly used side by side. This side-by-side usage is known as "diglossia." As the fifth-most spoken language in the world, Arabic is one of six official languages of the United Nations.

For centuries, Arabic played an important philosophical, scientific and cultural role in Europe. Many of its words are used in European languages, along with ancient languages like Latin and Greek. Most countries today use the Arabic numeral system.

Arabic, one of the world's mega-languages, is an official language in Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Palestine and Western Sahara.