“Basic phrases, ‘I need help. I need a policeman.’ Try to learn just a few of the most basic phrases, just so if you do get lost, because these guys, unlike what you might see on the news, they’re not going to kidnap you, most likely they're going to try to help you if they can understand you. But if you don't know even the simplest phrases then they can't help you. They don't know what your need is necessarily, unless they speak English.
"The key words walking in the room, it’s always, ‘salaam aleykum.’ And that greeting is usually followed with a handshake, and they’ll respond with, ‘wa aleykum asalaam’ or something along that nature. That’s the key phrase ‘salaam aleykum, wa aleykum asalaam.’ Other than that, ‘inshallah,’ as God wills. And typically if they say something, and I'll respond, ‘inshallah.’ And that’s most of the extent of my Arabic, but to this day, for 15 years it’s helped me survive.”
In this video, a retired Army major discusses the importance of learning the local language and explains a few key Arabic phrases.