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27med, 9ala7, 5alid – How to read and write Arabic in arabizi

Many Arabs don’t use the Arabic alphabet for Whatsapp. Instead, they prefer using their English keyboard. Some hate it, others love it. A quick overview.

Last updated: May 2, 2021

In my articles about Egyptian Arabic, I occasionally used the Arabic chat language and not the international transliteration. I did this because it is reality. I quickly want to give an overview about the numbers used in Arabic chats for letters.

The Arabic chat-alphabet is also called Arabizi (عربيزي). It uses numbers. The numbers represent Arabic characters which are not found in English.

Since there are different dialects of the Arabic language, the Arabizi writing system is not standardized. But if you use the following numbers and signs, most Arabs will be able to read your text.

ء = 2

This is rare. Often the Hamza is not pronounced in Arabic dialects. Nevertheless, you may see the number 2 when someone needs to type ؤ or ئ or any kind of Hamza.

ع = 3

The number 3 is like a mirrored ع.

غ =’ 3

The apostrophe represents the dot on the غ.

خ = 5

In order to be consistent, some people prefer to use the number 7 with an apostrophe resulting in: 7′

ط = 6

Some people also use the capital letter T. What is the reason for the 6? Well, it has almost the same shape.

ظ =’ 6

The apostrophe represents the dot on the letter ظ.

ح = 7

The letter ح has some similarities to the number 7.

ق = 8

If the two dots of the ق closed the gap, we would get an eight lying on its side.

ص = 9

Some people also use the capital letter S. Why the number 9? If you flip the 9 so that it lies on the side, the number resembles the letter ص.

ض =’ 9

The apostrophe represents the dot on the letter ض.

A tool for decoding and writing: yamli

Yamli was one of the very first tools which helped people to write in Arabic – and it is still very handy! You can simply use the English alphabet and Yamli will convert it for you into Arabic. Let’s do a test and type 27med into the search field of Yamli:


You see from the results that it works very well. 27med means Ahmed (أحمد).

What about the other words we used in the headline?

9ala7 = صلاح

5alid = خالد

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