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 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.
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 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.
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.
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
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”.
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:
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).
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:
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