The 101 series of Website localization in Middle East- Part 2

- More than 80% of users in the UAE and Saudi Arabia download Arabic apps.

As we said in the first part, localization is about giving your customer a full local experience.

Now in Part 2 we will talk about how to localize another channel that will make your customer more engaged in his journey with your product/service. It’s your app.
Mobiles are in everyone’s hands nowadays. A lot of people use their mobiles mainly to connect to the internet. So, making a mobile friendly content is a MUST nowadays. Talking about mobiles, your app can attract potential clients that are not easy to reach by a website.
In this part we will talk about apps localization in Arabic. But why Arabic?

- Despite the great increase in mobile app usage among Middle East countries, only 5% of the content is in Arabic.
- There have been 304.5 million mobile subscriptions in 2019.

Tips and tricks for apps localization in the Middle East

Step to consider
What you need to know

Text direction

The RTL language reading order is from right to left, which means you need to take care that the translated text is in the correct order, especially if your text contains some English words, as this might lead to a wrong reading order.

When you translate from LT to RT languages, it might happen that the text gets mirrored.
- This gives a bad impression, making it look as it you do not care much about your customer globally.
Take care of the text direction in the QC phase.

- Some
content doesn’t get flipped, such as images with text, images that are spread over facing pages, screenshots of products or complex images. See the example below:
In this example, we can see that the image isn’t flipped, because it has ’screen’ content conflicts with mirroring.

Text length
Arabic is one of those languages that has a bigger font than languages like English.
Also, it has very few abbreviations, for example, to translate FAQ, you have to translate the whole phrase (‘frequently asked question’), because there is no equivalent abbreviation in Arabic.
You need to consider whether to put the words in a box or near an image, so the overall layout stays scannable.

Numbers and words
The big question when it comes to Arabic localization is what kind of digits to use. Arabic or Hindi digits?
Arabic digits are: 0,1,2,3 etc.
Hindi digits: ۱, ۲, ۳ etc.
If you decide to go for Arabic digits, then you will face the problem of where to insert the numbers.
Should it be on the right, for example
25/08/2020 تاريخ اليوم
or تاريخ اليوم 25/08/2020.

Transliteration in Arabic is a little bit tricky, because you have one language with more than 250 million speakers in 22 countries, representing a big pool of cultures. Also, legally, you have to transliterate your brand in the Gulf states.
This may cause confusion when you need to expand to other countries of the region.
An example from the clothes retailer Red Tag. They have transliterated their brand in Arabic as
ريد تاغ. . This would be acceptable for consumers in the Gulf states, but a consumer in Egypt would prefer to go for the original English brand name.

Examples of good localization
Uber:  Uber can give you very good examples about how to localize your app to adapt completely to the Middle East markets.
In Saudi Arabia, women don’t like to get in a car with a male Uber driver. They prefer female drivers.
Uber picked up on the needs of this market and they have made a customized option in their app for a female driver service.

They also take special occasions and holidays in the Middle East into account. For Ramadan, the holy fasting month for Muslims, they have made Uber Sohor (sohor is the meal that people eat in the early hours of the morning before the fasting begins). This shows how you can use your app to make a full localized experience for your brand.

Taking care of the small, fiddly bits and pieces when localizing an app for the Middle East. Consider the different cultures. This means a lot to the people in this region, who suffer from a stereotype as the region of war and conflict. To give your customer in the Middle East the feeling that you fully understand his needs, don’t take the whole region as a package, but concentrate on the dialects and traditions of different countries, paying attention at the same time to what they have in common. This is the way to gain customer loyalty.