Website Localization Tips for the Arabic Market

June 26, 2017 Mai Farouk Mohamed Nour

There are 22 Arab countries and over 420 million Arabic speakers around the world. These numbers represent a huge opportunity for companies planning to create content targeted at Arabic-speaking audiences. Corporations are recognizing the need to localize their company websites, blogs, email campaigns, social media posts, etc. into Arabic to capture the attention of the Arab world.

Localizing a website into Arabic means adapting the language and functions of that website for the Arabic markets. When localizing a website, you should be quite familiar with the dialects and cultures of your target audiences, as well as the multilingual capabilities of your content management system (CMS). 

Arab countries may have one language, but they have many different cultures and dialects, which influence their use of language. A word in one country may have another interpretation in another country. For example, in the UAE, the word mobile (or cell phone) is interpreted as "هاتف متحرك"; in Saudi Arabia, it’s "جوال", and in Egypt, it’s transliterated from the word mobile as "موبايل".

Arabic Website Localization Tips

Given the importance and size of Arabic-speaking audiences, companies are looking for ways to have their website content localized properly into Arabic. Below are several tips to consider before localizing a website for Arab countries:

  • Avoid machine translation. Arabic is a very complicated language and machine translation will likely fail to interpret the meaning you are trying to convey. Quality sells, so use a professional translation agency with skilled Arabic translators to produce quality Arabic content.

  • It is important to choose the right images and graphics that appeal to the culture of your audience. Images displayed on an Arabic website should respect the conservative culture of Arab countries.

  • Videos should also respect the culture. For example, if the website targets Saudi audiences, developers should ensure that no videos include music. Some people in Saudi Arabia do not listen to music and believe it is religiously forbidden. Developers should either create text alternatives or clearly state that the embedded videos contain music.

  • The Arabic language contains many words that carry more than one pronunciation and meaning, which can cause confusion and ambiguity for readers. In order to generate clear and professional content, use diacritic marks (small marks placed above the letters) to denote the right pronunciation and eliminate any ambiguity for the readers.

  • Make sure your CMS is capable of handling right-to-left (RTL) languages. If your CMS is not enabled to display a RTL language, your content will not appear correctly, causing confusion and appearing unprofessional. For more information, please read this blog: Localization for RTL Languages.

Summary

The Arab world represents an enormous opportunity for companies looking to expand their global reach. However, with its many complexities and dialects, effectively localizing your website into Arabic can be a difficult task. Understanding your audiences, keeping in mind the tips mentioned above and working with a translation services team experienced in Arabic translation are just a few of the ways to effectively and appropriately market your products or services to Arab countries.

Further Resources on Arabic Localization, Arabic Globalization and Arabic SEO

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has extensive experience localizing marketing materials, technical documents, and large, scalable websites into the Arabic language. Due to increased demand for projects in Arabic and other BiDi languages, like Farsi, we have posted a number of useful guides to best practices in this area. Feel free to review our blogs that are particularly relevant:

Please feel free to contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com with any questions about our language and technology services.  Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs.  You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_total_number_of_speakers

http://blog.globalizationpartners.com/arabic-website-translation.aspx

https://www.eriksen.com/wp-content/uploads/images/Articles/Arabic-11-3-14.pdf

 

About the Author

Mai Farouk Mohamed Nour

Mai Farouk Mohamed Nour (Mai Nour) is a native Arabic speaker who lives in Cairo, Egypt. She is a senior copywriter, translator and reviewer with great passion for translation and creative writing in English and Arabic. Mai obtained her B.A. degree in English Language and Literature from Faculty of Alsun, Ain Shams University. She has a well-rounded experience exceeding nine years in copy writing and translation working with various companies throughout the Middle East. Her primary translation and writing focus has been on the subjects of legal, technical, hospitality, localization and general marketing, and has significant experience translating legal and marketing projects and HR and literary books. For her, translation is more than a career, it is a mission. When Mai is not working she enjoys traveling, reading, coloring, and going to the movies.

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