The singer, 29, told fans she is learning the language to "explore" her cultural identity during an Instagram question and answer session. Thirlwall, who was born in South Shields, England, has Middle Eastern heritage — her maternal grandfather was Yemeni and her maternal grandmother was half Egyptian.
“As a fellow mixed-race Yemeni living in the UK, how have you explored your identity?” one fan asked.
“The more I explore and educate myself, the more I feel at peace with myself and the more confidence I feel within myself, which has been and will continue to be a beautiful journey for me,” Thirlwall wrote. “I love cooking Yemeni food, discovering Yemeni artists and creatives and I will be continuing to learn Arabic on tour.”
With her reply, Thirlwall shared black-and-white photos of her family members, including Yemeni grandfather Mohamed Ahmed Saleh and a copy of his UK National Insurance Card from 1954.
In December, Little Mix announced their plan to go on hiatus following the completion of their 2022 Confetti tour.
Thirlwall has spoken about her grandfather, who she says encouraged her to embrace her Yemeni cultural identity in the past.
“I have really fond memories of my grandfather going to the mosque and cooking me Yemeni food and telling me all these stories about living in Yemen,” she told Yemeni teen Somaya during an Instagram live chat organised by Unicef in March 2021.
“You know, as I’ve got older, I feel like once my grandfather passed away when I was 13, I sort of lost a lot of my Yemeni identity because he was the main person in my life who would really champion my Yemeni heritage and encourage me to acknowledge it all the time.”