Research Article

Dominance of Foreign Shop Names Over Arabic Names in Saudi Arabia: Promotional, Sociocultural and Globalization Issues



This article investigates the language choice in shop names in Saudi Arabia, and the factors that determine the language choice and the reasons for preferring English to Arabic names. A sample of 500 shop names in 12 cities was collected from a Saudi Mall Directory and analyzed. In addition, a sample of 75 students and instructors from the departments of languages, translation, education, computer science and business and 25 shop owners and workers were surveyed. It was found that 64% of the shops have foreign names (25% international foreign names and 39% local names); 24% have pure Arabic names and 12% have mixed names. Some shops with a foreign name add an Arabic descriptor which is a translation of the foreign name (Perfume (عطورات بارفيوم. Foreign names are used in some mall and shop names although Arabic equivalents exist. The students, faculty and shop owners and workers gave promotional, sociocultural, linguistic and globalization factors, and lack of a business naming policy. They indicated that foreign shop names are used as a marketing strategy to attract customers who prefer foreign merchandise to local ones. They think it is more glamorous to use a foreign name as foreign names are associated with modernity, prestige, and elitism. They can reach more customers. A foreign name gives the customer the impression that the store is keeping abreast of latest international markets. They faculty added that in our cognition, foreign names are connected with high quality. Our culture looks at English as more sophisticated and fancier. An English name has a different effect. Shop owners indicated that new entrepreneurs adopt a foreign name because they are worried about their ability to compete with other shops. Shops like to Imitate shops in the West. Some think that translating a shop name to Arabic creates a barrier between the customer and the foreign franchised company as the original name is in English. As an example, foreign names are used for promoting the Riyadh Season (Oasis, Winter Wonderland, Park Avenue (بوليفارد . The article gives recommendations for protecting the Arabic language, translating shop names, and choosing glamorous and attractive Arabic names.

Article information


International Journal of Middle Eastern Research

Volume (Issue)

1 (1)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2022). Dominance of Foreign Shop Names Over Arabic Names in Saudi Arabia: Promotional, Sociocultural and Globalization Issues. International Journal of Middle Eastern Research, 1(1), 33–43.



Foreign shop names, Saudi shops, Saudi mall, shop naming practices, factors affecting shop naming, globalization, promotional factors, sociocultural factors