Meaning of 'yalla habibi' explained as Ons Jabeur shirt goes viral

Eve Edwards September 11, 2022
Meaning of 'yalla habibi' explained as Ons Jabeur shirt goes viral
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images


Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur may not have claimed the Grand Slam trophy at this year’s US Open, but her team – repping their signature ‘yalla habibi’ shirts – were cheering her on nonetheless.

World number one Iga Swiatek beat out Ons Jabeur at the season’s final in New York, claiming her second major title this year. Swiatek is the first woman to win the French Open and US Open titles in the same year since Serena Williams in 2013.

After featuring on the shirts of Jabeur’s team, interest in the meaning of ‘yalla habibi’ has piqued. Plus, some tennis fans are hoping to get their hands on some of Jabeur’s merch to support the Tunisian star next time she plays.

Ons Jabeur’s team don ‘yalla habibi’ t-shirts for US Open final

Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

On Saturday, September 10, 2022, the US Open Women’s Singles finals took place in New York City. It saw Polish tennis sensation Iga Swiatek go up against Ons Jabeur in another final, the two players having faced off in the Italian Open final earlier this year (Sunday, May 15).

Cheering on Tunisian star Ons Jabeur from the sidelines were her team, who this tournament wore t-shirts with ‘yalla habibi’ printed on them. They also feature the Tunisian flag.

You can catch a glimpse of the ‘yalla habibi’ shirts seen on Jabeur’s team in the clip below:

There are multiple meaning of ‘yalla habibi’ in Arabic

If you spotted the ‘yalla habibi’ t-shirts at the US Open this year, then you might be curious as to the phrase’s meaning.

It can be translated as “come on, dear” or “let’s go, dear”. This is as habibi translates to “my dear” and yalla which has evolved from Ya Allah over time to be used as a motivational expression to do something or to act.

This phrase can also be used as an informal greeting. You can call a friend habibi (when addressing a man) or habibti (when addressing a woman). So, saying ‘yalla habibi’ can also translate to “hello, my friend”.

The official language of Tunisia is Arabic. Ons Jabeur speaks Arabic, French, and English fluently, and is also learning Russian, as her husband speaks the language.

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Ons Jabeur calls yalla habibi a “lifestyle”

Back in July 2022, Ons Jabeur’s official Twitter account commented on her catchphrase ‘yalla habibi’. In this tweet, she described the phrase as a “lifestyle” before announcing you could get your hands on one of Jabeur’s yalla habibi t-shirts.

The merchandise, created with Lotto Sport, also features Jabeur’s signature. The t-shirts worn by her team at the US Open featured the Tunisian flag, although this is not seen on the Lotto Sport shirts on sale for the public.

Tennis fans look to get their hands on Ons Jabeur merch after US Open

Throughout this year’s US Open, fans of Ons Jabeur have been non-stop talking about the ‘yalla habibi’ shirts.

One fan tweeted that they are “Loving the ‘yalla habibi’ shirts from Jabeur’s camp” while another added that it was the “Best merch at this year’s Open.”

The t-shirts are currently only available on Lotto Sport’s Italian website, where they are still on sale.

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.