A Saudi hashtag entitled #tal3mrak which literary translates into “May god prolong your life” or “your majesty” if translated into a Western context took Twitter by storm today. The hashtag came as a surprise to many people who never thought Saudi netizens would have the courage to speak up in this manner in the way they address their authorities. At the beginning, the hashtag might have been directed to all the high ranking names in Saudi Arabia who control the market, have the freedom to do things that regular citizens are prohibited from, and live as a privileged class as they wish.
However, it soon became clear that it was being used to address King Abdullah of Saudi, especially when non-Saudis started using it to criticize Saudi foreign policy that fights the Arab Spring and supports dictators against their people.
Saudi women activist Eman AlNafjan (@Saudiwoman) tweeted several times about the #tal3mrak hashtag:
@Saudiwoman: This hashtag #tal3mrak is making me feel old. Never thought there were this many Saudis not afraid.
AlNafjan has also tried to explain the hashtag in two tweets writing:
@Saudiwoman: The hashtag #tal3mrak refers to royal family but is also used for CEOs, high ranking military officers, ministers..etc 1/2
@Saudiwoman: 2/2 literal meaning of #tal3mrak “may God give you long life”,culturally its used as address&on twitter to make fun of powerful&rich Saudis
Saudi blogger Ahmed Al-Omran (@ahmed) tweeted about the value of such a hashtag:
@ahmed: If you are Saudi, the #tal3mrak hashtag is… quite something.
Al-Omran has also had his own question in this hashtag referring to the Saudi fear of religious police:
@ahmed: When go out on a date, are you worried that the religious police could arrest you?
Egyptian activist Mohamed Effat (@3effat) was one of the first Egyptians to use the hashtag, saying it is an expression of what Saudis face in their own country from the regime. Some Saudi Twitter users voiced their disagreement with Effa, who insisted on his opinion and explained the hashtag saying:
@3effat: This hashtag is gonna hit news bigtime, yo out there check it out. saudis speaking up about their problems criticizing their king #tal3mrak
Eman Hussein (@Ammouni) from Dubai showed admiration for Saudis using this hashtag saying:
@Ammouni: OMG! Saudis are so brave; following the hashtag #Tal3mrak
Egyptian Evronia Azer (@evronia) pointed out that the King should support women's rights:
@evronia: #tal3mrak u have to start by supporting women's rights!
Saudi female tweep Nawwarah (@nawwarah82) simply depicted how the King did not keep his promises for reforms:
وعدتنا بالتقدم, و وجدنا تأخر وعدتنا بالستر, و وجدنا غلاء عشمتنا بسياسة الباب المفتوح و أهديتنا قانون الارهاب الجديد…. #Tal3mrak
Manal Al-Sharif (@manal_alsharif), the woman who was arrested for driving her car months ago, tweeted many times under the #Tal3mrak hashtag. One of her sarcastic tweets reads:
بما إن عدد عيالك ٢٠ مليون ونصدر في اليوم ٩ مليون برميل. الصبر نصرفه في أي بير؟
Saudi blogger Sami Almalki (@iSaami) has also attempted to explain the nature of the hashtag from his own perspective:
ملاحظة: هاشتاق طويل العمر ليس مختص بأمير أو ملك أو تاجر كما سيّسه البعض وحوله عن مساره، بل يقصد به كل مسؤول بالوطن العربي