'Mustaqbal': Arabic word for future can inspire and unnerve

As much as the concept of the future can motivate, the word mustaqbal takes on various shades of meaning, depending on the context

The Arabic word of the week is mustaqbal, which in English is expressed as future

Dubai’s zest for what's ahead has been on full display this week. As the city marks the opening of the Museum of the Future, why not explore the Arabic word for future this week?

As much as the concept of the future inspires and unnerves, the word mustaqbal has shades of meaning, depending on the context.

A high achiever with a seemingly bright future has a mustaqbal zahir. In contrast, a slacker with dim prospects can be said ma illo/ilha mustaqbal.

The unknown future is al mustaqbal al majhool. The near future is al mustaqbal al qareeb. The distant is al mustaqbal el baeed.

Parents ruminating on how to provide a stable future for their children could ask: keef bedna nettaman ala mustaqbalo/mustaqbalha.

Made an investment or set aside money for a rainy day? For any decision with the future in mind, you could say: hada befeed al mustaqbal.

As economic crises persist in several countries in the region, many are planning to move abroad, fearing a sombre future if they remain. A common expression used to justify the decision to emigrate is: mafi mustaqbal bi hal balad — there is no future in this country.

The word also has a romantic resonance. A couple who seemingly work well together can be said to have a future together or ilhon mustaqbal sawa. If you want to say it to your significant other, you could say ilna mustaqbal sawa.

Planning a break-up? You could say ma ilna mustaqbal.

In the end, there is only so much we could do to set future’s course.

If you want to tell someone not to worry too much about what is to come, you could say: la taqlaq/taqlaqi min al mustaqbal.

A common idiom that expands on the saying is: la taqlaq min al mustaqbal. Ana urid, enta turid, u Allah yafa’l ma yurid. This translates to: don’t worry about the future. You desire things, as do I, but in the end, Allah does what he desires.

Another oft-said expression is mustaqbal biyad Illah, or the future is in God’s hands.

Updated: February 25, 2022, 6:02 PM