The Arab Spring is not going away. Arabic is now one of the most important online languages. We are about to see an explosion of Arabic content and services on the web. Important websites and global brands need to get on board with this or be left behind.
Earlier this year, we published our update on the size and economic opportunity of online language populations (see “ROI Lifts the Long Tail of Languages in 2012,” Jun12). We found that Arabic has now surpassed Russian, French, and German in total online population. The language now ranks as #11 in share of world online wallet, notching the fastest growth between 2011 and 2012 – even outpacing still-surging Simplified Chinese.
Our recently published data on language popularity reveals that Arabic is missing from most websites of big companies and famous brands. We visited 2,409 of the world’s most prominent websites, and found that only one in four of the 100 Interbrand Best Global Brands offered Arabic, placing it at #33 of the most popular languages on these top websites. Among the Fortune 500 companies, only one in 20 websites included Arabic content (see “Multilingual Websites,” Oct12).
A new research brief, “Waking Up to Opportunity in Arabic,” contains additional data showing that Arabic is the most underserved language on the web today. We considered various historical factors inhibiting the growth of Arabic content on the web, but we conclude that global brands can no longer afford to ignore this economically vital language. While Arabic is not a single language as spoken on the streets of the many Arabic-speaking nations, the written form of Modern Standard Arabic is a good place to start for companies building a global audience or customer base.
Why should you care about these findings? The world is about to see a major jump in the availability of Arabic content online. As more countries achieve democratic governments, access to products, services, and information continues to increase. Websites will not lag behind. The Arab Spring has re-ignited the outward glance. Now is the time to make sure your brand speaks Arabic.