In today’s interconnected world, the competitive advantage of any business is largely determined by the degree of technology adoption, utilization, and connection with its target audience. Researchers often argue that without a critical mass of local content, Arab countries cannot reap the benefits of the global information revolution.
The Need for Arabic Content Online is Increasing
Market size is always a crucial factor when measuring the benefits of using localized content for online communication, and the data demonstrate a compelling case for Arabic content. Research from Babel concludes there are more than two dozen countries in which Arabic is the official language. It’s the fifth most-spoken language in the world and there are presently well over 300 million people who speak it, though the number is growing rapidly. Adding to this, InternetWorldStats.com shows that although the Middle East only accounts for 3.3% of the world’s population, it accounts for 4% of Internet users. Roughly 67% of people in the Middle East have Internet access, compared to the global average of just 56%. This number is soaring too.
If the high numbers of Arabic speakers aren’t enough, it’s worth noting that the Arab world has a combined GDP of nearly $3 trillion according to World Bank, and many are heavily involved in the trade. However, Arab countries routinely rank low in English proficiency, meaning those who want to tap into this market must leverage Arabic content.
Unfortunately, many Arabic users either do not find any good Arabic content or face a rather disconnected online experience when they are sent to an English web page through an Arabic ad or link. In turn, the local audience loses interest and gets carried away by the global competition, which is exactly why a lack of online Arabic content has created bottlenecks for businesses.
Local Initiatives for Arabic Content Online in Short Supply
Despite the shortage, there are very few initiatives pushing for Arabic content online; among them Google and Twofour54. In the past few years, governments all over the Arab world have also started launching billion-dollar plans for e-Governments projects and related infrastructures to help position the Arab World as a part of the global information society.
While some Arab countries are showing real drive in the Internet space, there are others that still lack the dynamism required to boost Arabic content for the next generation of online users.
Businesses Must Focus on Creating Arabic Content Online
By providing quality Arabic content, organizations and businesses can help promote more local community engagement. This can also open up channels for international communities that are interested in Arabic culture and looking to learn more about the Arab world.
By creating online Arabic content, businesses can better connect with their Arabic audience, those who are more comfortable using the Arabic language. But, the truth remains that even though there exists a huge demand of online Arabic content, there are not enough companies creating good Arabic content for their Internet-savvy, local audiences.
It’s time for businesses to consider including Arabic content in their online strategies to achieve a more targeted market outreach that allows them to take advantage of the great opportunities the region has to offer.