Defining “Kheir” and “Wasta” in Levantine Arabic

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Kheir (خير): In Levantine Arabic, “kheir” translates to “good” or “well-being.” It is often used to convey positive wishes or to inquire about someone’s well-being. The term embodies a sense of positivity and goodwill, reflecting the cultural importance of community and mutual care.


– “شو الأخبار؟ كل شي بخير؟” (Shu el akhbar? Kul shi b’kheir?) – “What’s the news? Is everything good?”

– “الحمد لله، أنا بخير.” (Alhamdulillah, ana b’kheir.) – “Thank God, I am well.”

– “الله يجعله خير.” (Allah yija’lo kheir.) – “May it turn out for the best.”

Wasta (واسطة): “Wasta” refers to the use of personal connections or influence to achieve something, typically within a bureaucratic or professional context. It is akin to the concept of “nepotism” or “pulling strings.” In many Levantine societies, wasta is a common way to navigate systems and can be both criticized and accepted as a part of social and professional life.


– “حصل على الوظيفة بواسطته.” (Hassal ‘ala el wazife b’wastato.) – “He got the job through his connections.”

– “بدون واسطة، صعب تحصل على هالشغل.” (Bidoon wasta, sa’b tahsal ‘ala hal shughl.) – “Without connections, it’s hard to get this job.”

– “إذا عندك واسطة، بتقدر تخلص أمورك بسرعة.” (Iza ‘andak wasta, bt’adar t’khalis omoork b’sur’a.) – “If you have connections, you can get your things done quickly.”

Exploring the meanings of “kheir” and “wasta” in Levantine Arabic provides a window into the cultural values and social dynamics of the region. “Kheir” exemplifies the importance of well-being and positivity in interpersonal interactions, reflecting a community-oriented mindset where expressing goodwill is valued. On the other hand, “wasta” illustrates the pragmatic approach to navigating social and professional hierarchies through personal connections, highlighting the complexities of meritocracy and fairness in achieving success.

These concepts are not merely linguistic expressions but deeply rooted cultural practices that shape everyday interactions and societal norms. Understanding “kheir” and “wasta” enriches our appreciation of the Levantine Arabic-speaking world, offering insights into how language reflects and influences social behavior and values. As these dynamics continue to evolve, these terms serve as enduring markers of the intricate tapestry of Levantine culture, inviting further exploration and dialogue on the intersections of language, society, and identity.