A great initiative is being launched by Google to increase the volume of Arabic web content on the web. Google tell us that to “help build a vibrant Arabic web, we’ve created Arabic Web Days, an initiative in the Middle East and North Africa focused on boosting the amount of Arabic content online.”
Check it out. Lots of interesting events are planned, leveraging the best of Google’s community outreach, partner relationships, and technology capability. We can learn from this initiative for other languages too. What might such days offer for Basque (Euskara) or Irish (Gaeilge) I wonder?
Arabic is clearly under represented on the web. Only about 3 percent of the total digital content online is in Arabic whereas Arabic speakers make up more than 5 percent of the world’s population. Many more understand the language due to the holy Quran.
Although we often think of Arabic language web technical issues (which revolve around the issues of ligature shaping, characters, and bidirectionality) as being resolved in these days of Unicode, it’s still worth reading up on the nuances, particularly as we’re coming from a low volume and legacy content base. I recommend the W3C insights such as these from Richard Ishida.