Hope in sight for Arab internet users.Byline: Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor
Dubai: When Husni Khuffash speaks of the internet, he speaks in a tone full of awe. He wonders how life would be without the internet.
His 56-year-old mother reads several Arabic newspapers on the internet with her morning coffee "without paying a penny for subscription," he says.
His 64-year-old father and 9-year-old niece are both internet users and his sister searches online for useful information pertaining per·tain
intr.v. per·tained, per·tain·ing, per·tains
1. To have reference; relate: evidence that pertains to the accident.
2. to the bringing up of her children.
The internet is also 38-year-old Khuffash's bread and butter - he is Google's Country Business Manager based in Dubai and is working in the field of promoting information technology.
This pursuit appears to be sorely needed - internet users in the Arab region constitute only 5 per cent of the 1.5 billion users in the world, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. recent statistics.
As is the position with regard to agriculture and industry, Arabs are still consumers rather than producers when it comes to technology.
Even the information in Arabic posted on the internet for the rest of the globe to see is minimal. Roughly, it makes up 1 per cent of the overall data on the new technology information highway.
Both the small amount of available data in Arabic, and low percentage of Arabic users, are the result of various problems, mainly involving access and language issues.
Giant search engines such as Google are extending a helping hand. In the past few years it started offering some of its services in Arabic, including offering blogs in Arabic.
Google has also installed stations for students to use the internet free of change at the engineering department of Cairo University Cairo University (previously the Egyptian University and later Fouad the First University) is an institute of higher education located in Giza, Egypt. The university was founded on December 21, 1908 as the result of an effort to establish a national center for .
In addition, Khuffash points out, Google has launched a service called knol, which is similar to Wikipedia. Arabic was the first foreign language after English to be used to launch Knol, even "before Russian, French, Chinese or Japanese," Khuffash said.
At the same time, Google offers translations from different languages to Arabic and vice-versa.
However, the complexity of the Arabic language Arabic language
Ancient Semitic language whose dialects are spoken throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Though Arabic words and proper names are found in Aramaic inscriptions, abundant documentation of the language begins only with the rise of Islam, whose main texts , particularly in tracing the meanings of words, has resulted in inaccurate translations in many cases. Responding to complaints of Arabic-language users about translation inaccuracies, Khuffash said there is a need for speakers of the language to intervene and correct mistakes in order to build a better Arabic-language database.
"Our translation ... [uses] ... artificial intelligence," Khuffash said, adding that this means that computers learn through user intervention.
"For example, the Arabic word 'Dhahab' could mean either the noun 'gold' or the verb 'went'. If the reader corrects the translation of the word as appropriate [in the context], the computer will immediately learn," Khuffash said.
Meanwhile, what is promising to spur a positive turnaround and increase the number of Arabic users is that the internet can become a source of income for individuals and groups alike.
The number of bloggers in Arab countries is also on the rise.
"There was a very big difference in the past two years," Khuffash said. "I can't give you figures, but the difference was great."
Other researchers, including John Palfrey This article is about the professor of Law. For the U.S. Representative from Massachusetts, see John G. Palfrey.
John Palfrey (b. 1972) is Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and a Clinical Professor of Law. , faculty co-director of the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College
Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. , agreed. "The Arabic blogosphere The total universe of blogs. See blog. is a dynamic public space," Palfrey pal·frey
n. pl. pal·freys Archaic
A saddle horse, especially one for a woman to ride.
[Middle English, from Old French palefrei, from Medieval Latin , the principal investigator Noun 1. principal investigator - the scientist in charge of an experiment or research project
scientist - a person with advanced knowledge of one or more sciences for the Internet and Democracy Project, has said. He believes that people are able to have "far-reaching conversations about virtually all aspects of life, culture, religion and politics."
According to a recently published study by Berkman Centre, there are "approximately 35,000 routinely updated blogs from a mix of predominantly young and male bloggers, with the highest proportion of female bloggers being found among Egyptian youth.
The Arabic blogosphere is organised primarily around countries, with the Egyptian and Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. clusters being the two largest.
However, blog language usage differs among Middle Eastern and northern African countries, the study's results showed.
For example, Kuwaiti bloggers are split between Arabic and English users. Bloggers in the eastern Mediterranean countries frequently use English in addition to, or instead of, Arabic.
In northern African countries, or "Maghreb", many use a mixture of Arabic and French.
Arabic search results could improve on the Yahoo engine after the recent deal between Yahoo and Microsoft.
While Google currently controls around 65 per cent of the search market in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. according to the latest figures, it is followed by Yahoo! with around 20 per cent and Microsoft with just over 8 per cent.
The three giant companies compete in the US - a leading country in terms of computers and information technology
Meanwhile, Google is attempting to increase the volume of Arabic data on the internet, Khuffash said. "Not quantity, but quality wise," he assured.
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