As part of its plan to enhance technology services for Arabic internet users and expand the Arabic content of the web, Google for the first time took part in Dubai's annual computer and electronics trade fair GITEX, where it launched a new program.
With Arabs constituting five percent of internet users worldwide, director of Google Dubai, Hosni al-Khafash, said that Arabic users are an important but underserved community.
"Arabic content on the internet is no more than one percent, which means that Google has a huge chance for expansion," Khafash told AlAswaq.net.
Google showcased new Arabic translation and knowledge sharing platforms at the show, which ended last week, and has opened two regional offices as it seeks to expand its role int he region.
Google is targeting Arabic users through its launch of Taareeb(translated "Arabization"), a program that allows users to turn any text from English into Arabic. Its encyclopedic-like service Knowl (short for knowledge), which allows users to post all kinds of information and add to other people's posts, was first launched in Arabic "in a clear sign of interest in company Google user Arab and Arab market,” said Khafash.
Google opened its office in Dubai Internet City earlier this year, after opening an office in Cairo, as part of its plans to focus on its Arabic language services. Khafash, who has been working with the company for a year and half, said that Google's expansion in the Arab world does not seem to be affected by the latest financial crisis. He said Google’s expansion involves no risks and that the Arab world is a promising market with a good future.
"52 percent of Google’s returns come from outside the United States. This means that developing markets have a very promising future," he said
Hundreds of million of users access Google, the top-rated internet search engine, in several languages, one of which is Arabic.
A recent report published by the market research firm RNCOS forecast that the UAE will become the region’s premier information and communication technology hub, citing that free zone clusters such as Dubai Internet City and heavy regional investment in the technology (ICT) sector play an enormous role in encouraging ICT development.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)