UAE: Meet Chinese expat who has become viral for his fluent Arabic skills

Locals call him ‘Ahmed the Chinese’, and his language journey has made him a social media star

By Waad Barakat

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Sun 17 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 17 Dec 2023, 10:21 PM

Ahmed Alliusie is a Chinese expat who has called the UAE home for half a century and has created quite a buzz on social media. He is a viral sensation, thanks to how he has mastered the Arabic language — that too the Emirati dialect.

Ahmed came to the Emirates with his family in 1972 and grew up here. His Arabic adventure began when his father decided to enroll him in a government school, while his siblings opted for an international one. Now, you might think he'd have felt like a fish out of water, being the only Chinese kid in a sea of Emiratis. But Ahmed didn't experience any imposter syndrome. Sure, “it felt a bit odd at first”, but he quickly found his place among the Emirati kids.

First memories

“My first day in school — there was no social media then — I was probably the first Chinese kid some kids saw, but I never felt strange. In my second week, I began interacting with other kids in the emirate, the Emirati accent came naturally," Ahmed told Khaleej Times.

Now, a businessman, the expat owns a group of companies in the Gulf countries.

“One of the first memories I have of the UAE is how I noticed people stood with each other, how in Ramadan food is given to mosques, and how neighbours just come together. I just love the culture,” he said.

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

For Ahmed, Arabic has been a game-changer. He’s had the most heartwarming encounters with locals, who appreciate his efforts to speak Arabic. He practices Arabic even in his daily chores — he would order food at a local joint and see the delight on the server's face when he nails his order in Arabic. It's like unlocking a secret code that opens doors to deeper connections and a sense of belonging.

Emirati flavour

“Arabic is a … throat language. Some people spend years learning Arabic but never quite master the pronunciation of the letter ‘qaf’,” he said, pronouncing the letter perfectly.

What’s more, he even has published a book in Arabic titled ‘Chinese with an Emirati Flavour’.

You might be wondering how this Chinese-Emirati language enthusiast ended up all over social media. Ahmed started his content creator journey only two and a half years ago (@leekhaleeji). He kicked things off on YouTube and gained a whopping 50k subscribers in just 3 months! Now, he's rocking it on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, sharing his life and even teaching people Chinese. Talk about a multilingual superstar!

'Ahmed the Chinese'

Comments posted on his videos are proof of his soaring popularity. Local refer to him as ‘Ahmed the Chinese’. Check out some of the comments people have posted under his videos:

“My brother, you are a very respectable and cheerful person. God willing, may God protect you” posted Bo Mohammed

Another user, oj lj , posted: “That's it, you live among us and you've become one of us and more”

Ahmed's path to becoming a social media sensation wasn't without its twists and turns. But he's living proof that language and culture can bring people together in the most unexpected ways. His dedication to learning Arabic and his infectious sense of humour have earned him a growing fan base.

As we celebrate the National Day of Arabic Language (December 18), Ahmed's incredible language journey has brought joy, laughter, and cultural fusion to all who follow him.


More news from UAE