The majority of Arabic speakers are concentrated in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, which are known as the Arab world.
There are 25 countries that have Arabic as an official or co-official language: Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. And then there are 6 sovereign states in which Arabic is a national language or recognized minority language: Iran, Turkey, Niger, Senegal, Mali, and Cyprus.
You can also find Arabic speakers scattered across the globe where Arab migrants resettled over the past few generations - in places like Brazil, northern and central Europe, the United States, and Southeast Asia.
With over 300 million native speakers across several varieties of modern Arabic, the Arabic language is the 5th most spoken language in the world.
Egypt is the country with the largest Modern Standard Arabic-using population at around 65 million people.
Unfortunately, no exact estimate of Arabic learners is available. However, it is a relatively popular foreign language on various online language learning platforms, with a few million learners at different levels.
As is true many other languages that are believed to be difficult to learn, there is nothing in the Arabic language that cannot be mastered with the help of some effort, regular practice and a bit of patience. However, there are still some things that may cause difficulties for learners of Arabic.
Here are some of them: the script can be challenging, especially for speakers of languages with alphabets like the Latin or the Cyrillic; reading from right to left takes some getting used to; there is a complex system of prefixes to convey different meanings; the Arabic grammar system, in general, is very complex, to the point that changing one letter can change the whole meaning of a sentence; there is a vast vocabulary with many synonyms and creative idiomatic expressions; there are a lot of dialects.
Learning Arabic does take some effort, but it is also one of the most beautiful and interesting languages that can bring learners a lot of enjoyment.
Linguists generally believe that "Old Arabic" (a collection of related dialects that constitute the precursor of Arabic) first emerged around the 1st century CE. It is believed to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula. It was first spoken by nomadic tribes in the northwestern frontier of the Peninsula.
In fact, Arabic means “nomadic.” Arabs (aka nomads), from which the word Arabic is derived, primarily occupied the area between Mesopotamia to the east to the Lebanon mountains in the west, to the Sinai in the south and from northwestern Arabia to the Sinai in the north.
Arabic is not a tonal language.
Tonal languages are characterized by utilizing tones or the pitch of the voice to differentiate between words. There are neutral tones, tones where the pitch goes down, up, down and then up as well as a few others.
There are aspects of Arabic that can be mistaken for qualities of a tonal language, for instance, the differentiation between long and short vowels, but it is not a tonal language.