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Arabic Translation Best Practices for Hotels

The Tourism and Travel Industry constitutes a substantial sector of the world economy. In 2013, according to World Travel and Tourism Counsel: Travel & Tourism represented $7.0 trillion, 266 million jobs and $754 billion in investment. In terms of expenditure level, the “Arabic Tourism Association” stated the average Arabic tourist spends around $4500 yearly on travel and tourism, which puts him on the top of the list among tourists across the world.

If you want to attract new customers and guests from around the world and become known as a “foreigner-friendly” establishment, you need to make sure you have utilized all means and resources available that allow you to communicate effectively with tourists in their languages. If you target the Arabic tourist for example, then you need to make sure that all of your marketing tools are designed to support the Arabic language and deliver the intended message.

There are various marketing tools that can be utilized, such as holiday guides, marketing collateral (brochures, flyers, maps, newsletter, directional signage, etc…), and even restaurants and bar menus. Below we will discuss some tips that should be considered when translating these marketing tools.

Top Tips for Translating Menus in Arabic
  • Locale differences: Arabic tourists love food and love to try new things. There are different types of cuisines across the Arab world, Egyptian, Lebanese, Syrian, etc… When localizing menus in Arabic, it is important to take into consideration that some items have Arabic variations among Arab countries. For example: prawn, shrimp, tomatoes, potatoes, have different translation alternatives in Egypt, Lebanon and KSA, so the translation should use the most common words that will be understood across all Arabic native speakers.
  • Culture differences: Some food items are considered unacceptable in the Arabic culture, so when localizing menus, a clear description should be included for the items that include alcohol or pork which are considered unacceptable among the majority of Arabic natives.
  • Layout: Ideally the layout should be performed by a native Arabic speaker. If the layout (design/formatting) is completed by a non-Arabic native speaker, it is better that the translation agency translates the menu in a two-column format that includes the English and Arabic translation so the DTP artist can easily recognize the text during DTP. A best practice will also be to design the menu in bilingual format so both the waiters and the guests can understand the menu items if they are not all Arabic speakers.
  • Usage of images: The selection of imagery used is also very important, as images of women without the traditional dresses are not widely accepted in some Arab countries. Depending on the property and the target audience, some images may be replaced with ones that are more suitable to the Arabic culture.
  • Arabic DTP: The designer has to ensure that the DTP tools and fonts used are compatible with Arabic. Again, ideally DTP or layout should be completed by Arabic native speakers. If not then a careful review by a native linguist is critical to ensure no issues occurred during layout formatting such as text is aligned correctly, no text expansion or corruption, etc..
Top Tips for Translating Brochures in Arabic

The Arabic layout requires RTL “Right to Left” customization. RTL is one of the major factors for translated Arabic brochures and requires professional Arabic desktop publishers with solid experience in RTL modifications.

Whether you are a hotel, chain of restaurants, or tour operator, and whether you want to translate websites, brochures, press releases, travel guides, flyers, menus or any other promotional material, you need to seek the help of a team of knowledgeable translation and DTP professionals who know the language and the culture of the markets where your potential guests reside. Combining an expert team of linguists and project management professionals should greatly influence the outcome of your translation efforts allowing you to guarantee high quality translations that are not only linguistically accurate but also free from cultural errors.