Did you go to a wedding recently? Did you hear abelik? Mabrouk, you’ve found yourself at an Arabic wedding. In saying abelik, one wishes the same blessing on the recipient. After a few times, it might have been sweet, but as time marches on, it has become a dreaded phrase due to the pressure it carries. The struggle isn’t being single but maintaining the patience to hear the word repeatedly.

Despite the multitude of memes online, a few laughs don’t erase the fact that the phrase considers marriage to be the ultimate milestone of success and happiness, even when it isn’t for many.

But let’s talk linguistics now. In Modern Standard Arabic (a.k.a Fos-ha), the word is divided into oqba-laq, which translates as “an ending for you.” With multiple dialects in the Middle East, it grew into various pronunciations of the word abelik. In some cases, the phrase is used instead of a thank you. Take this scenario for example: If you recently achieved significant success in your career and someone congratulated you, you would say abelik (feminine) / abelak (masculine) to show your excitement and hope that they will also achieve the same level of success and that no harmful matter will follow.

So we’ve asked people to share how they feel about it.

  • Abdulrahman: “Error 404.”
  • Tara: “Like impending doom, and that I’m running out of time.”
  • Omar: “If their tone is right, I give them a hug!”
  • Mariam: “I’ve scared people into not saying it.”
  • Joud: “I don’t like it. It almost feels like they’re enforcing someone else’s journey onto me.”
  • Hala: “It really depends on who’s telling me that.”
  • Dareen: “I feel pressured.”
  • Rindala: “I hate it. It’s so much pressure to do things we’re not ready for.”
  • Aya: “What emoji is an eye roll?”
Rand Al-Hadethi is an art, culture, and fashion writer who approaches all her creative endeavours with a penchant for storytelling. She explores the intersection of fashion, culture, and society and sheds light on talent and cultural movements across the Middle East and the world. Rand also publishes a bi-monthly themed substack newsletter called WebWeaver™. To reach Rand, email her at rand@khamsa5.com or follow her on social media @rundoozz.