Arabizi in Saudi Arabia: A deviant form of language or simply a form of expression?

Hamdah Alghamdi, Eleni Petraki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
99 Downloads (Pure)


The popularity of social networking sites in the Arab world has resulted in a new writing code, Arabizi, which combines Roman letters and numbers to represent the Arabic language. This new code received vehement criticism from Arabic linguists who argued that Arabizi is detrimental to the Arabic language and Arab identity. Arabizi use, however, has been increasing, especially in Saudi Arabia, a highly conservative and religious society. To address this apparent contradiction, this study investigated the reasons why young Saudi Arabians use Arabizi online and their attitudes towards its use. The research was based on 131 questionnaires distributed on social networking sites, and 20 interviews conducted with Saudi users of Arabizi. The findings suggest participants use Arabizi because (1), it is the language of their peers, (2) it is cool and stylish, (3) they have difficulties with the Arabic language, and (4) Arabizi constitutes a secret code, allowing escape from judgements of the older generation. The study concludes that Arabizi is a strong marker of Arab youth identity and group solidarity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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