Only one percent of all blogging content is in Arabic. This lack of quality Arabic content in blogs maybe due to the cultural differences in the way technology is used in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Despite the fact that Arabic ranks 5th in the top 10 most spoken languages worldwide, Arabic is not among the top ten languages used in blogs in Blogger, Google’s blogging platform, and Word Press, according to Ahmad Hamzawi, Head of Engineering for Google Inc, Middle East/North Africa, during the Mudawanat: All about Blogging event held yesterday at Sharq Village and Spa.
“In 2007, there are 490,000 blogs in Arabic,” Hamzawi added. “Not many people are writing (blogging) in Arabic but a lot are reading,”
Jeremiah Owyang, a Partner at Altimeter Group, Forrester Research, a social media research firm and the main presenter at the event said 64 percent of Arabic blogs focus on domestic news while 46 percent on international news.
Discussion forums is the most dominant form used by people in the Middle East and North Africa region when it comes to sharing and discussing ideas online. In Qatar, Qatar Share and Qatar Living are the two most popular discussion forums, the former in Arabic and the latter in English.
“It depends on the culture,” Owyang added, citing China as an example, where online forums are popular because it affords anonymity to the commenter avoiding government censorship.
Ammar Mohamed Khaled, one of the Qatar’s leading bloggers and a panelist at the event, said that during the war in Iraq and more recently in Gaza, blogging was a way to relay information when traditional media’s coverage was censored.
For many people in the region, blogs are a relatively new social tool and has a lot of untapped potential.