Ariel is a biblical name, seen there as the messenger of Ezra, and also used as a symbolic name for the city of Jerusalem, while Shakespeare used it for a (male) sprite in The Tempest.
For girls, Ariel enjoyed a considerable burst of popularity with the 1989 release of Disney's The Little Mermaid: by 1991 it had reached Number 66.
Although its wave has crested, Ariel is still a name any little girl would love. It is also associated with the poetry of Sylvia Plath and with the Chilean-American writer Ariel Dorfman. The popular historian Ariel Durant was born Ida Ariel Ethel.
In Israel, Ariel is used as much or more for boys.