Sorry for the break in posting! Visiting family and a nasty cold will do that to you.
Most Arabs mark at least two “New Years” on their calendars, the Islamic and the Gregorian (many, especially in Iraq, may celebrate a third, Nowruz). As the Islamic calendar is lunar, and therefore shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the Gregorian date of the Islamic New Year floats; for example, we are currently in the year 1434 on the Islamic (Hijri) calendar, and the year 1435 will begin roughly around November 4, 2013. I say “roughly” because lunar calendar dates depend on the phases of the moon, so any attempt to map them to Gregorian dates in the future may be off by a day or so in either direction. The Islamic New Year is marked quietly, with prayer and reflection on the Hijra, or the Flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, the event that marks year 1 of that calendar.
But today is the Gregorian New Year’s Eve, so let’s restrict ourselves to that event. “New Year” can be literally translated either as السَنة الجَديدة (al-sanat al-jadīdah, don’t forget to elide the “l” into the “s” and say “as-sa-nat-al-ja-dee-da”) or as العام الجَديد (al-ʿām al-jadīd). Both the feminine سَنة and the masculine عام mean “year,” though عام has more of an historical or record-keeping connotation. Another construct you may encounter is رأس السَنة (raʾs al-sanah)or رأس العام (raʾs al-ʿām), both of which mean “start of the year” but to which you can add the Gregorian qualifier, to wit: رأس السَنة الميلادية (raʾs al-sanah al-mīlādīyah) or رأس العام الميلادي (raʾs al-ʿām al-mīlādī), ميلادي being an adjectival marker for “Christian” (literally it’s the adjectival form of “birth,” but this is understood to refer to Jesus).
“New Year’s Day” = عَيد رأس السَنة (ʿīd raʾs al-sanah), “feast of the first of the year”
“New Year’s Eve” = لَيلة رأس السَنة (laylat raʾs al-sanah), “night of the first of the year”
“Happy New Year!” = سَنة جَديدة سَعيدة (sanat jadīdat saʿīdah) or عام جَديد سَعيد (ʿām jadīd saʿīd)