By Léa Allam, social media account manager, Bruce Clay MENA
After doing a quick Google search in Arabic, you’ll notice a significant difference in the search results compared to the same in English – both, from a quality and quantity perspective. With an estimated 420 million people around the world speaking Arabic and it being the fifth most spoken language, it’s only recently that we’ve started seeing direct attention placed on Arabic content for digital marketing purposes. Whilst it’s good that more content is becoming available in Arabic, it needs to be taken into account much more than it currently is. Creation of Arabic content needs to be at the forefront when considering and developing any content strategy.
Why penetrate the MENA Region with Arabic content?
With many industries in the MENA region becoming globally recognized, many brands are shifting their business strategies to include this flourishing region. Moreover, many countries, such as the UAE, are witnessing major developments and expansions within the main business hubs. The region not only provides potent business opportunities but also some of the highest potentials in terms of customer reach. Utilizing the first language of the region, Arabic, for online content is a powerful way to penetrate the market. Speaking to your customers in their voice creates a personal link, which is key if you are attempting to stand out in a highly competitive market. It has been proven that businesses investing in online Arabic content increase their online share of voice, which in turn has a positive impact on profits.
How important is Arabic content to the Arabic population?
Arabic is the eighth most used language on the Internet, yet the availability of Arabic online content is still relatively small compared to other languages. It’s worth noting that most of the Arabic speaking population is not fluent in English, with many of them not speaking it at all. If this is the case, why isn’t more content being developed to facilitate engagement with this significant and relevant audience?
With the importance of Arabic content being recognized only recently, we’re beginning to see some of the larger international companies in the MENA and elsewhere beginning to localize their websites and digital marketing platforms. However, this tends to be done using standard Arabic only. Whilst a great first step, what will truly make your digital marketing efforts stand out, is understanding the different styles and dialects (for which the Arabic language is famous) that permeate the region according to the country. Businesses that develop rewarding and engaging digital marketing campaigns with this in mind are the ones that will reap the rewards.
The challenges of Arabic translation and localization
Usually, the English language gets translated into Arabic through transliteration, or “coining a phrase,” which makes it challenging to find specific standards for technical terms commonly used in English. Arabic, as a language is complicated in terms of pronunciation and rich in terms of idioms, accents, and styles, mostly because of the multiple variations of Arabic dialects. Therefore machine translation and ‘cheap’ linguistic resources are not recommended for use because they don’t have this in-depth knowledge. The right message is never delivered effectively, from both a content and context perspective making it imperative to work with a translation/localization partner that frequently works on Arabic language projects and understands the nuances and differing dialects, styles, etc. The right translation partner is crucial to successful digital marketing campaigns and the development of online Arabic content.
We must make more of an effort to consider Arabic in the same way we do English. To truly engage with someone, you need to be speaking their language and in a region where the first language is Arabic, we’re really not fulfilling this need. With many talented bilingual copywriters and speakers in the market, there is no excuse to not develop good quality, well-considered Arabic content that not only speaks to the right people but, actively engages with them in a style that’s relevant to them.
The mindset really needs to change – make your content Arabic first to truly connect with the MENA region.