In preparation for heading out to Saudi to work, I started to teach myself Arabic. First thing to master is the beautiful script. My local library had a copy of this book which I think is a very good, succint way to start learning not only how to read but also how to write Arabic.
The strengths of this book like in the fact that they teach you not just the standard printed text but also help you master reading and writing handwriting. I probably won’t have much cause to read handwriting in Arabic but I do know that the best way to learn a script for me is to write it over and over again. Having done that, I usually remember it. This book helped me do just that.
The one thing I think I’d add is more examples for the learner to read. There are some supplementary chapters at the end which do contain examples of signs and notices and so on. But I’d rather have more of these as the book develops so that you get more of a feel that your understanding of Arabic script is actually growing.
This is a book primarily aimed at those who want to write the script though and there are plenty of good examples of reading in the companion book by the same authors which I’m currently working through: Mastering Arabic. Both this little book and the main coursebook are excellent resources for the student of Arabic. Highly recommended.