Arabic Language Blog

Calendar Months in the Arab World Posted by on May 26, 2010 in Arabic Language, Culture

So what month is it exactly? مايو ,أيار ,الماء, or ماي? Well, it depends on who you ask and where you are.

For a multitude of reasons names of calendar months vary across the Arab World. The Gregorian calendar is universally accepted for civil use, but–depending on where you are–you may find Aramaic and Babylonian calendar month names being used. Of course, current date does not change (unless you are in Saudi Arabia where there is a slight twist to that rule–but more on that later); it remains consistent regardless of where in the Arab World you find yourself. However, the names of months do change. This is because some countries, like Syria, for example, have opted to rename Gregorian calendar months after their Aramaic counterparts, which are based on the Babylonian calendar.

For example, in the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan), the month of May is referred to as أيار .أيار is the Aramaic name for May. Go further south to Egypt and Sudan and you will find that May is مايو, as those countries use the Gregorian calendar. Going further west to Algeria and Morocco yields a similar result with a slight variation. مايو becomes ماي, which is based on the French names of Gregorian months, betraying both countries’ colonization by France.

There are exceptions that deviate from the above patterns: Libya’s calendar months are derived from various sources, chosen and assembled by it’s eccentric leader Mu’amar al-Ghaddafi. May in Libya is الماء, which means “water.” The other exception is Saudi Arabia where you will find Islamic calendar months are the norm, used concurrently with Gregorian ones. May in Saudi Arabia is either جمادى الأول or جمادى الثاني depending on what part of May you find yourself in. This is because the Islamic calendar dates lack Gregorian equivalents. According to the Islamic calendar, today’s date is the 11th of جمادى الثاني, year 1431. The first year of the Islamic calendar is based on the year in which the Prophet Mohamad left the city of Mecca and headed to Medina, 622CE.

I’ve included two lists below of Aramaic and Gregorian month names in Arabic.
Aramaic calendar months used in the Levant

No. Month Arabic Name In Arabic
1 January كانون الثاني Kānūn al-Thānī
2 February شباط Šubāṭ
3 March آذار ‘Ādār
4 April نيسان Nīsān
5 May أيار ‘Ayyār
6 June حزيران Ḥazīrān / Ḥuzayrān
7 July تموز Tammūz
8 August آب ‘Āb
9 September أيلول Aylūl
10 October تشرين الأول Tišrīn al-Awwal
11 November تشرين الثاني Tišrīn al-Thānī
12 December كانون الأول Kānūn al-Awwal

Gregorian calendar months used throughout the Arab World

No. Month Arabic Name In Arabic
1 January يناير yanāyir
2 February فبراير fibrāyir
3 March مارس māris
4 April أبريل/إبريل abrīl/ibrīl
5 May مايو māyū
6 June يونيو/يونيه yūnyū/yūnya
7 July يوليو/يوليه yūlyū/yūlia
8 August أغسطس aġustus
9 September سبتمبر sibtambir
10 October أكتوبر uktūbar
11 November نوفمبر nūfambir
12 December ديسمبر dīsambir

Source: Arabic names of calendar months – wikipedia

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  1. Scheich Josef:

    مرحبا يا محمد

    you write: “May in Saudi Arabia is either جمادى الأول or جمادى الثاني depending on what part of May you find yourself in.”

    This is indeed so in the year 2010. But since the Islamic calendar year with only 354 days is about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar year with 365 days, this correspondence between the Gregorian calendar month May and the corresponding Islamic calendar month will change from year to year.

    The Islamic calendar year 1431 can be calculated from the Gregorian calendar year 2010 by using the (approximate) formula

    1431 = (2010 – 622) + (2010 – 622) / 32

    مع السلامة


  2. hamdialwakeel:

    Is the fifth month in arabic called (mise) as well,thanks.

  3. warasi:

    kindly clear focus on different GAP years between B.C., A.D.,Hijri including with C.E.and which basic calender used in babylonian calender year in egyptian culture.
    lot of thanks,
    with best regards.

  4. Cristina:

    can anyone write June 2, 2007 using the Aramaic calendar…Also is there a specific way to write 2007 in words and not numbers

  5. فيل:

    I think 2007 is الفين (alfiin), so june 2, 2007 would be
    ٢ حزيران الفين و سبعة

    Which would pronounce: Ithnayn hazirān alfiin wa sub3a.

  6. Aba:

    Can some one please help with december 14, 2007? How is it written? Thanks

  7. Summer:

    i would like the the month “October” translated in arabic. (how its spelled in (saudi arabia)

  8. ALOX:

    Ugh i hate when arabian countries dont use Aramaic.. >.> why do we gotta use a version that looks like english for? lol.. that’s like the egyptians calling their “0 ” Zero and not “Sofr/Sefr “