Egyptian Arabic is the language spoken by the most contemporary Egyptians. Locally it is more commonly known as the Egyptian colloquial language or Egyptian dialect.
With more then 80 million people, Egypt has one of the largest single country populations in the Arab world. Even so, Egypt’s cultural and linguistic influence far outranges its size. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern country, arising in the 10th millennium BC as one of the world’s first nation states.
The capital Cairo has been the center of Arab radio and film for a long time.There are several Egyptian singers who gained global reputation. While it is essentially a spoken language, Egyptian Arabic is encountered in written form in novels, poems, advertising and some newspapers. In most other written media and in television news reporting, Modern Standard Arabic is used.
As a result to this cultural situation, (Cairene) Egyptian Arabic is the closest Arabs have to a common language. It is understood throughout the Arab world.
Why learning Egyptian Arabic first? (And not MSA)
If you plan to speak the language, learning a dialect is far superior to learning Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). If you plan to make friends, buy things, watch films and soap operas, listen to arabic music, travel and work, you should definitely start with the dialect!
In fact, most people in Arabic speaking countries do not speak Modern Standard Arabic. MSA is for understanding religious or formal texts or watching the news. It is used in formal settings. It is not a living and breathtaking language.
You will never hear people talking MSA in the street!
MSA is nobody’s mother tongue. Some people might understand you, when you speak MSA, but don’t expect to understand their reply.
On the other hand, Egyptian Arabic is understood by most Arab countries because of the media.
To truly connect with the people, learn Egyptian Arabic!