Arabic Tattoos Still Popular Among Celebrities

Back in 2009 I posted about celebrities such as Rihanna and Angelina Jolie getting Arabic tattoos. While it’s still rare enough to be seen as exotic, the trend has continued since then. Let’s take a look at some of the newcomers to the Arabic tattoo scene:

Zayn Malik

Zayn Malik Arabic Tattoo - Walter

Zayn Malik Arabic Tattoo – Walter

Zayn Malik is quite a favorite among female fans of the band One Direction. Among the tattoos he has on his body are a Yin-Yang symbol, crossed fingers (as a symbol of good luck) and a Chinese character symbol which he later had covered by a heart shape. It’s no surprise that Zayn has some tattoos in Arabic script – his father is of Pakistani heritage and languages such as Urdu are written using Arabic letters. So in a way it is a fitting tribute to part of his identity.

As to his Arabic tattoos, the first one is located on his chest and simply spells the name “Walter” with Arabic letters. Apparently, this is the name of his grandfather – quite a sweet thing to do to remember a close family member.

Zayn Malik Arabic Tattoo - Be True To Yourself

Zayn Malik Arabic Tattoo – Be True To Yourself

His second tattoo in Arabic is somewhat of an odd one. While it is normal to simply spell non-Arabic names with Arabic letters and not to translate them, it is a little weird to do the same with normal language. In fact, Zayn has written “bee troo too hoo yoo ar” on his collar bone. Confused? Well, this is what it sounds when you spell “be true to who you are” in Arabic. To tell the truth, I would have preferred it if this phrase had been translated into proper Arabic rather than simply to write the English sounds with Arabic letters.

Christina Perri

Christina Perri Arabic Tattoo - Maktub

Christina Perri Arabic Tattoo – Maktub

Christina Perri is probably most famous for her song “Jar of Hearts”. It’s a well-known fact that she has something like 50 tattoos, among them the Philadelphia skyline, an image of her French bulldog and an Italian tattoo that says “my family”.

Her Arabic tattoo says “maktoob”, which means “it is written” and refers to the idea that everything is pre-ordained by God (or in some other sense), because it has been “written” in the book of life already. It’s similar to the notion of “fate” or “destiny” in English.

Zoe Kravitz

The actress Zoë Kravitz is famous for her part in the movie X-Men: First Class and her role in the TV series Californication (and also for being the daughter of singer Lenny Kravitz). She has quite a few tattoos, among them one in Arabic on her left upper back.

Zoe Kravitz's Arabic Tattoo - Let Love Rule

Zoe Kravitz’s Arabic Tattoo – Let Love Rule

The tattoo is grammatically incorrect. Literally, it says “let the love the rule”, where “rule” could equally mean “camp, or base” and co-incidentally, is the word that has come to be associated with terrorist group Al-Qaeda, which derives from Qaedat al Jihad, meaning “the base of jihad”. I am guessing that the tattoo was meant to say “let love rule”, which is the title of one of her father’s songs. In its current form, the Arabic writing doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, as “qaeda” does not mean “rule” in the sense of e.g. ruling over a country, but more in the sense of grammatical rule.

A better translation would have been:
دع الحب يسيطر

Kym Marsh

Kym Marsh - Arabic Tattoo

Kym Marsh – Arabic Tattoo

British actress Kym Marsh (formerly Kim Ryder) is an actress in long-running UK soap opera Coronation Street. She has the names of her two children David and Emily spelt in Arabic letters on her left arm. Straight above this Arabic tattoo she has the Chinese character symbol for “woman”.






Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana Arabic Tattoo

Zoe Saldana’s Arabic tattoo on her back

The second Zoe in our list of celebrities getting inked in Arabic! This one is known for playing Uhura in the new Star Trek movies. She also appeared in quite a range of other famous movies, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar.

Zoe Saldana has two Arabic tattoos, one on her back and one on her foot. Unfortunately, both of them don’t appear to make much sense. The one on her back is a strange jumble of letters that aren’t connected properly and don’t form any intelligeble words:

Zoe Saldana's Arabic tattoo on her foot

Zoe Saldana’s Arabic tattoo on her foot

The tattoo on her foot is pronounced “ureed yu as’alha”, where only the first and the third word are Arabic words meaning respectively “I want” and “I ask her”. Together they would mean “I want to ask her”. However, the “yu” that is inserted in the middle doesn’t make any sense. On a second look, the Arabic letters might form two words, perhaps names? – Aridio (or Oridio) and Asalia (or Osaliya).





Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell's Arabic Tattoo

Colin Farrell’s Arabic Tattoo

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a better picture of the tattoo on Colin Farrell’s back. While there certainly seems to be some kind of Arabic writing, it’s impossible to make out what it says. It could also be the case that this is not Arabic at all, but rather some kind of decorative symbols. If any of you know of a picture that gives a clearer view on the tattoo, please let me know in the comments.


Update: Thanks to Yara in the comments below, we now know that Colin Farrell also has a tattoo on his wrist, which says الحرية (al-hurriya), meaning “freedom” in Arabic. The tattoo is in a nice calligraphic style, so full marks for Colin on this one:

Colin Farrell's Arabic Tattoo on his wrist

Colin Farrell’s Arabic Tattoo on his wrist


Get over 1400 sizzling hot and accurate Arabic tattoo designs

If you’re looking for accurate and unique Arabic tattoo designs, then check out my new Arabic Tattoos collection.

30 thoughts on “Arabic Tattoos Still Popular Among Celebrities

  1. Colin Farrell has a tattoo on his wrist that reads “الحرية” which means freedom.

    And i think a better translation for Zoe’s tattoo would be “دع الحب يقود” or “دع الحب يحكم” because يسيطر actually means “controls” not “rules”. Whoever translated it to her messed up pretty badly, I’m guessing she used an online translator. :القاعدة” is the noun “rule” not the verb.

  2. Thanks Yara. Yes, this is a good translation for Zoe’s intended meaning. The tattoo certainly looks rather strange in its current form.

    Do you happen to have an image of Colin Farrell where the tattoo on his wrist is visible?

  3. I know what Zoe`s mean in her tattoo and THE translation for Zoe’s tattoo would be LET LOVE FOUNDATION LIKE SHIS SAYING LET LOVE FOUNDATION for LIFE OR LET LOVE FOUNDATION IN LIFE

  4. Hi,
    How are you? I hope everything’s well.
    i was hoping if you can help me I’m planning to have
    “Hope” tattooed but i want it in arabic.

    how is it written?

    Thanks so much!

  5. Can someone translate beautiful soul for me? I’ve had it translated more than once and each translation came back different every time.

  6. Hello
    I love your site, is very rich in information and helped me a lot, I found the words he needed. I wonder if you can translate “forever yours” to man and woman. I read here on your page that is handled differently for “he” and “she.” We want to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary with an arabic tattoo. Thank you very much.

  7. personally i think i better translation for zoe would be
    دع الحب وسود
    let love prevail.

  8. Hi there!! I need help…I’d like a tatto “forever mine” in arabic…can you translate it to me…forever thankful…

  9. Hi there 🙂
    I would like to have ” freedom in god” tattoo but I am get so confused with translating:(does anyone can help??
    Thank you!

  10. I wanted to tattoo “Love” in arabic on my back years ago and I did a lot of research and my mother also speaks some Egyptian Arabic and can read also. She saw what i wanted and said “yes that says love” so I decided to do it, I tattooed Al hub In arabic script.. recently i wanted to add something to my tattoo so that it says “love yourself first” I realized that my tattoo is wrong it doesn’t say “love” it says “the love” Im really confused if that’s what it means because that makes no sense at all!

    I need answers! Someone please help me. if it Does mean “the love” Does that make sense in Arabic? and can I change my tattoo to “love yourself first” if I wanted to, is there any possible way with Al-hub?

    Thank you!

  11. @SK

    No it isn’t wrong, what you are referring to (Al alta’areef) is used to distinguish love as a proper noun; to describe the concept of love rather than it being mistaken for love as a verb (depending on the pronunciation).

    Now, for your addition “love yourself first” I think the best way since you have ALhub is to say “أنَاأَوْلَى بِالحُبْ” which is pronounced “Ana awla bilhub” and loosely translates to “I am ~rightly/most~ deserving of love” Diacritics or tashkeel is really important otherwise it could mean “I am primary of love” and that doesn’t make sense.

    Perhaps to simplify you can say “أنَاالحُبْ” pronounced “Ana alhub” and it means “I am love” which is also pretty and poetic. Hope this helps, I’d wait for the genie’s confirmation before doing anything though! Good luck!

  12. CORRECTION!I missed some spaces in the Arabic translations I guess when I copy pasted ( I don’t have arabic on my laptop)
    So first one,”Ana awla bilhub” should look like:

    “أنَا أَوْلَى بِالحُبْ”

    Second one, “Ana alhub” should look like:

    “أنَا الحُبْ”

  13. Hey, I’m getting a tattoo that says “love yourself first” and I want it in Arabic, could someone translate IT for me please

  14. wow most of them or wrong if not all of them i find it pretty funny putting words you don’t understand on your body but if you need any help you can ask me by e-mail سلام

  15. What is the correct translation for “be true to who you are” in Arabic? I’ve wanted the tattoo for years but don’t trust the translations I have found.

  16. Please translate sweet child of mine into the beautiful Arabic writing for me my first and only tattoo

  17. Hi I have been wanting to tattoo in Arabic, but I have not had luck being able to translate. Can someone please help, my last name is Medina.

  18. Hi, my name is Jerome and I was hoping to find out the meaning of an Arabic tattoo. Is there somewhere I can email a pic? If so, please email me at address provided. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Learn the Arabic script effortlessly, without need for rote memorization or hours of repetition.

Memory aids in the form of images make all letters stick in your brain..


Over 1400 Arabic Tattoo Designs based on 284 Arabic phrases - instant download!

This is the biggest Arabic tattoos collection around. Which design will you choose?


Free - Download "200 Arabic Words You Already Know" and increase your Arabic vocabulary painlessly.

Over 200 Arabic words that you can assimilate effortlessly.