The scarcity of Arabic on prominent global sites likely reflects the difficulty of operating in many Arabic-speaking countries in recent years. Cultural aversion may also play a role in the wake of some US-based companies such as General Electric facing negative publicity for selling products to “unfriendly regimes.” For example, Dutch sites are more than three times as likely as US sites to include Arabic. UK sites are almost twice as likely. Companies based in Asian countries, too, miss this important language.
One reason is that the so-called Arab Spring has brought a surge of people online. It has also reignited what might be called the “outward glance,” culturally speaking. In 2002, the Arab Human Development Report found that the Arab world was translating only 330 books annually and that the cumulative total since the ninth century was about 100,000, “the amount Spain translates in one year.” Ten years later, efforts have stepped up. . .