It seems like everyone in my field of vision has been paying just a little more attention recently to the Middle East and North Africa — from lawyer-blogger Yasser Latif Hamdani calling 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai “Pakistan’s Jeanne d’Arc” in Pakistan’s Daily Times, to the televised US presidential debates on foreign policy that included at least 185 references to the Middle East, to a friend of mine coming back from hanging art in Tunisia and plastering her photos of it all over Facebook.
But the region, as with any region, is more than its headlines. It is complex, diverse, and its history runs much deeper than the latest tweet or status update about it.
This issue of the magazine attempts to address that, starting out with Khaled Islaih’s article on orality and Arabic culture — a philosophical article that seems strangely appropriate and timely for the generation of digital natives everywhere. Afaf Steiert, Matthais Steiert and Elanna Mariniello take on some of these more digital trends and describe their implications in more detail, aided by a sidebar from Rebecca Ray on market entry success in the Middle East. Next, Mimi Hills channels a few eye-opening lessons learned while participating in a cross-cultural mentoring program involving mentees from the Middle East and North Africa. Mansour Alghamdi, Mohamed Alkanhal and Faisal Alshuwaier cover the current language technology projects in Saudi Arabia, and Amr Zaki details the challenges of right-to-left localization for mobile devices.
Continuing from our last issue, David Filip looks at how to make localization for the long tail of languages feasible. Then, Hannah Berthelot studies gender and project management cross-culturally and cross-linguistically. This topic was so interesting (and potentially controversial) that we have continued the discussion on MultiLingual’s blog platform, Blogos, and we invite you to comment there if you have feedback.
In the commentary, Lori Thicke interviews Gaku Ueda of Twitter, Kate Edwards talks about regime change and Terena Bell has some very intriguing points about exporting, of all things. To finish, Arturo Quintero reflects on his time in the language industry and the lessons he has learned over the 20-plus years he has spent in it.
The language industry by its very nature is committed to the pursuit of cross-cultural understanding, diplomacy, correct word choice and not letting preconceptions cloud interpretation. In an ideal world, we all would be more like this, no matter what region we were discussing. But until that day, just keep reading.