Arabic eContent Development: A Shared Responsibility

Have you ever tried to search for any information, image or a video in Arabic language but all in vain? How did it feel? We always seek help from the internet whenever we inquest for information or knowledge and we are taken by surprise every time the results appear fruitless. As the Arabic eContent existing in the internet compared to the eContent of other languages is very low, we tend to refer to other languages to gain knowledge. According to the 2012 ITU report on measuring Information Society, the existing Arabic eContent doesn’t exceed 3% from the overall eContent. Moreover, the total Arabic eContent in the Free Encyclopedia “Wikipedia” is about 0.82, that is less than 1%.
Arabic eContent refers to everything published in Arabic in the internet such as websites, webpages, personal blogs, pictures, videos, audio files or posts in social networks. Although the number of Arab users to the internet is increasing, the rise in Arabic eContent is relatively slow in a way that doesn’t fulfill our craving for knowledge. Nowadays, each one of us uses smart phones, tablets and computers to surf the internet daily or to write a post or a tweet or to publish a picture on the social media networks, but is all what we publish or write has value? Can anyone refer to it or make use of it?
To narrow this digital gap and to contribute in providing valuable Arabic eContent, ITA exerted several efforts, among which, the establishment of Sas for Entrepreneurship and Sas for Virtual Reality. Sas for Entrepreneurship was founded to nurture Omani youth talents and skills in making videos, graphic designs and multimedia in Arabic as well as managing IT startups which all contribute in Arabic eContent development. Additionally, Sas.VR seeks to be a regional hub contributes in eContent production and development in multimedia and virtual reality fields with Omani creativity and innovations.
We are also proud to have worked collaboratively with his Majesty’s advisor for economic planning affairs office to develop a website for the Sultan Qaboos Encyclopedia for Arab Names thus transforming its information from the library’s shelves into the digital world. This encyclopedia, which will be launched soon, is an outcome of a thorough and rigorous research conducted by more than 150 researchers and scholars from different Arab countries in different scientific fields including linguistic, social, historical, political and literary analysis. The Sultan Qaboos Encyclopedia for Arab Names, which includes over 7 billion Arab names along with their meanings will surely add a valuable source of information.
Within the same context, and With the aim of enriching the Omani eContent and to enhance the local tourism, ITA adopted Wilayati Competition to encourage Omani youth to develop a website and/or a mobile app for each Wilayat in the Sultanate. This includes all information about the wilayat either geographical or historical along with available services and tourist attractions.
Furthermore, the open street map competition which was announced last month is one of the ITA’s initiatives seeking to instill the digital voluntarism culture within Omani youth and to encourage them to share their knowledge and information related to a certain road or town using an open and free source licensed application. With the participation and cooperation of all, such information would be available to the public freely and openly and would develop the Omani eContent.
On top of that, a new Wikipedia Arabic eContent Development competition has been launched recently by the name of #Wiki_Oman targeting social media active users, bloggers, writers, and academics to contribute in writing rich articles to be added in the free encyclopedia and to help in making such articles available to the public. A single information or fact can lead and inspire others toward innovation and creativity.
Those mentioned efforts were only beginnings to contribute in the development and creation of meaningful eContent making it accessible to everyone searching for knowledge and information. Adding Omani/Arabic eContent is a form of voluntarism and a culture we aspire to spread in our community and with our cooperation, we can increase the Arabic/Omani eContent. Toward this aim, we encourage you to come up with individuals or collective ideas, initiatives to enhance the Arabic eContent to mark our positive imprint. All our communication channels either social media accounts, along with this blog, are open 24-7 welcoming all your suggestions, ideas and initiatives and we will spare no efforts in translating them to reality.

Posted by Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi on October 7, 2015

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