The linguistic and political denotation inherent in the term Arab is generally dominant over genealogical considerations. In Arab states, Modern Standard Arabic is the only language used by the government. The language of an individual nation is called Darija, which means "everyday/colloquial language." Darija shares the majority of its vocabulary with standard Arabic, but it also significantly borrows from Berber (Tamazight) substrates, as well as extensively from French, the language of the historical colonial occupier of the Maghreb. Darija is spoken and, to various extents, mutually understood in the Maghreb countries, especially Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, but it is unintelligible to speakers of other Arabic dialects, mainly for those in Egypt and the Middle East.
Standard territorial definition
Although no globally accepted definition of the Arab world exists, all countries that are members of the Arab League are generally acknowledged as being part of the Arab world.
The Arab League is a regional organisation that aims (among other things) to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries and sets out the following definition of an Arab:
An Arab is a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic country, and who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic people.
This standard territorial definition is sometimes seen to be inappropriate or problematic, and may be supplemented with certain additional elements (see ancillary linguistic definition below).
Member states of the Arab League
Ancillary linguistic definition
As an alternative to, or in combination with, the standard territorial definition, the Arab world may be defined as consisting of peoples and states united to at least some degree by Arabic language, culture or geographic contiguity, or those states or territories in which the majority of the population speaks Arabic, and thus may also include populations of the Arab diaspora.
When an ancillary linguistic definition is used in combination with the standard territorial definition, various parameters may be applied to determine whether a state or territory should be included in this alternative definition of the Arab world. These parameters may be applied to the states and territories of the Arab League (which constitute the Arab world under the standard definition) and to other states and territories. Typical parameters that may be applied include: whether Arabic is widely spoken; whether Arabic is an official or national language; or whether an Arabic cognate language is widely spoken.
While Arabic dialects are spoken in a number of Arab League states, Literary Arabic is official in all of them. Several states have declared Arabic to be an official or national language, although Arabic is today not as widely spoken there. As members of the Arab League, however, they are considered part of the Arab world under the standard territorial definition.
Somalia has two official languages today, Arabic and Somali, both of which belong to the larger Afro-Asiatic language family. Although Arabic is widely spoken by many people in the north and urban areas in the south, Somali is the most widely used language, and contains many Arabic loan words.
Similarly, Djibouti has two official languages, Arabic and French. It also has several formally recognized national languages; besides Somali, many people speak Afar, which is also an Afro-Asiatic language. The majority of the population speaks Somali and Afar, although Arabic is also widely used for trade and other activities.
Comoros has three official languages: Arabic, Comorian and French. Comorian is the most widely spoken language, with Arabic having a religious significance, and French being associated with the educational system.
Chad, Eritrea and Israel all recognize Arabic as an official language, but none of them is a member-state of the Arab League, although both Chad and Eritrea are observer states of the League (with possible future membership) and have large populations of Arabic speakers.
Israel is not part of the Arab world. By some definitions, Arab citizens of Israel may concurrently be considered a constituent part of the Arab world.
Iran has about 1.5 million Arabic speakers. Iranian Arabs are mainly found in Ahvaz, a southwestern region in the Khuzestan Province; others inhabit the Bushehr and Hormozgan provinces and the city of Qom. Mali and Senegal recognize Hassaniya, the Arabic dialect of the Moorish ethnic minority, as a national language. Greece and Cyprus also recognize Cypriot Maronite Arabic under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Additionally, Malta, though not part of the Arab world, has as its official language Maltese. The language is grammatically akin to Maghrebi Arabic.