AMMAN — Half of the Arabic content on the Internet is replicated on different websites and written in weak Arabic, according to Fayeq Oweis, Arabic localisation manager at Google.
Online Arabic content does not exceed 3 per cent of all content on the web and about 33 per cent of it is restricted to members of online forums inaccessible to the public, Oweis said in a session Wednesday during the “Content Arabia” conference.
Another challenge that affects the quality of Arabic content is that many Internet users in the Arab world write in “Arabizi” (Roman-character based Arabic language slang), he noted, saying that “it is important to stand up to this phenomenon as it is affecting digital Arabic content”.
“A large percentage of this content includes factual and grammar mistakes,” Oweis added, noting that the lack of Arabic content affects the quality of online translation.
“When Internet users translate a sentence from any language into Arabic on search engines for example, they may not get a proper and grammatically correct translation because some of the existing Arabic content already has problems and is inaccurate,” the Google official said.
Faris El Gwely, an Egyptian Wikipedia editor and Wikimedia Education Programme consultant, agreed with Oweis.
Noting that there are about 200,000 articles in Arabic on Wikipedia, Gwely stressed the need to boost content and focus on quality and accuracy.
Arabic currently ranks as the 23rd language in Wikipedia in terms of the volume of content, according to the consultant, who added that the number of editors working on Wikipedia pages in Arabic was limited, which affects the quality of Arabic content on the online encyclopaedia.
Governments in the Arab world, he said, should encourage young people to volunteer to boost Arabic content on the Internet.
About 75 per cent of the Arabic content on the web comes from Jordan, according to experts in the ICT sector, while Arabic speakers account for 5 per cent of global Internet users, according to Google.
In the Middle East, there are an estimated 78.62 million Internet users, according to www.internetworldstats.com.
About 65 per cent of Arab Internet users look for Arabic content.
In Jordan, where Internet penetration reached 55.9 per cent by the end of June 2012, several organisations recently started initiatives to boost Arabic content on the web.
TAGpedia, an online encyclopaedia conceived with the aim of increasing Arabic content on the web, is scheduled to launch in December with about 500,000 articles in Arabic.
The Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organisation, which is producing the encyclopaedia, has already compiled 400,000 items from across the Arab world on a variety of topics.
The Amman-based Jordan Open Source Association also announced recently that it was working on a project with the Wikimedia Foundation to increase Arabic content about Jordan on the web.