Aim: The aim of this study is to establish a valid and reliable culturally adapted instrument which can be used in the Arabian context to measure emotional well-being. Design: The Mental Health Inventory tool was used to investigate the emotional well-being of Saudi nursing students. The instrument was originally developed in English and in a western cultural setting. As such, there was a need to translate and validate the instrument in Arabic for use in the Arabian setting. Methods: The Arabic version MHI 38 (AV-MHI-38) was translated, reviewed and revised, then evaluated with a sample of Arabic-speaking nursing students from Saudi Arabia using cross-sectional multicentre survey approach. An iterative forward-backward-forward sequence of item translation and review by a bilingual and bicultural expert panel was then completed. The psychometric properties of the AV-MHI-38 were examined through an exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, correlation among factors and reliability assessment. Results: The sample consisted of 252 nursing students from two different universities located in different geographic regions in Saudi Arabia. The mean age was 20.93 years, made up of 230 female and 22 male participants. An a priori two-factor model showed satisfactory fit with modifications. Results indicated two component AV-MHI-38 with 46.09% of the total variance and excellent internal consistency. The AV-MHI-38 had good psychometric properties and the two subscales had good internal consistency with Cronbach's and acceptable reliability measures. The AV-MHI can be used to assess emotional well-being among Arabic-speaking populations of nursing students, nurses and other healthcare providers. The instrument can be used to identify the emotional well-being of students and initiating strategies to support them to decrease their study and work-related stress, anxiety and depression.