'Arabic content is less than 3% on world wide web'
Dubai - Several Arabic-focused initiatives have been launched in the UAE in the past few years.
By Sarwat Nasir
Published: Sat 29 Sep 2018, 5:00 PM
Last updated: Sat 29 Sep 2018, 8:08 PM
There continues to be a "huge lack" of Arabic content in the online world despite the language being the fourth most spoken one globally, experts have insisted.
The comments were made during a panel session held by Ureed, a UAE-based translation agency, ahead of the International Translation Day, today.
The CEO of Ureed, Nour Al Hassan, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the event that Arabic content is less than three per cent of the online world. "There is a huge gap of what the Arab person needs and looks for as compared to the Arabic content availability online. Even when it comes to content and translation, it is not up to the standards of English and other languages, we are still far from the right quality of Arabic content. We are getting there - a lot of initiatives are happening in the UAE regarding Arabic content but we still need to do a lot of work," she said.
Several Arabic-focused initiatives have been launched in the UAE in the past few years by the government, including one of the largest Arabic online audio book library that was launched last year. Major brands, such as Amazon, have also stepped into the Middle Eastern market - with their purchase of Souq.com - and are focusing on the needs of Arabic consumers.
Even though the spotlight is slowly moving towards producing more Arabic content, Al Hassan said that there also needs to be a deeper focus on proper translations of the Arabic language. She said some translations come out as "laughable" and sometimes even offensive.
"Most of the big platforms look for cost-efficient ways to do translation. Sometimes, it's not properly done, or it's done by a machine and sentence structure is very weak or they give it to the community to look after it without quality assurance. So, what happens today is that you can feel most platforms produce Arabic just because they need to do it but there is no thought behind a proper Arabic translation. We should reach a stage where if you want to sell more in this part of the world you need to produce quality, otherwise if I don't understand the quality of the Arabic, why would I buy the product," she said.
Ureed has also launched an online academy for its 13,000 freelancers who want to learn proper translation skills.
Badr Ward, CEO of Lamsa - an online Arabic edutainment platform for children - told Khaleej Times: "I think if you look at the statistics, the gap of Arabic content as compared to other languages in the online world is getting smaller. Ten years ago, that gap was huge and people were talking about the lack of content in Arabic.
Khaled Al Ameri, a popular Emirati influencer, writer and content creator, was one of the keynote speakers at the event. "As someone who is bilingual and as someone who has struggled with certain parts of both languages - English and Arabic - it is great to know Ureed is creating space for people to learn, communicate and discuss topics in any language that they want," he said.