Some may think translating your website into Arabic is an individual decision and work that one person, who speaks Arabic, may handle. However, looking at Arabic website translation tasks and tips more closely, we see it is best performed by a team following a few key Arabic translation best practices.
Before the decision is made to translate your website content into Arabic, you should first ask and answer several questions about what you are trying to achieve by translating your website into Arabic. A professional agency or translator should ask you some important questions for sure.
At a first glance, when asked these questions by the translator or the translation agency, you may feel bothered and not want to take the time to gather the information, but you really need to in order to give your Arabic translation team the information they need to do their best work.
What are some of these important questions?
1- Is the translation of the website content targeted to a specific country?
You may think that the question is naïve, as all Arab countries speak Arabic, right? However did you know that Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is used in publications and books in all Arab countries, however each country or region has its own dialect, and it is desirable that this be applied to the written texts (MSA).
So you want to be specific, who is your target audience? Which Arabic do you want? Is it Egyptian, Lebanese, Gulf, or North African? There are actually many spoken dialects across the MENA region including:
- Maghrebi – Morocco
- Levantine – Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan
- Hassaniya – Mauritania
- Gulf – Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates
- Egyptian – Egypt
- Sudanese – Sudan
- Yemeni – Yemen
- Hijazi – Saudi Arabia
2- Have you completed any previous translations into Arabic and/or other languages?
This question aims at identifying your preferred translation style and tone of voice and thus provides a reference to the current Arabic translation team. Maintaining consistency in style, how brand names are handled, and the decision to translate versus transliterate with regard to the names can be ascertained by reviewing previous translations assuming you are happy with it.
Also, if there is a developed Glossary for other languages, a professional Arabic translator can use the source word list and get it translated and finalized into Arabic.
3- Does your Web Content Management System (WCMS) support Arabic?
People may mistakenly think their Website Content Management System supports the Arabic language. This is not often the case due to the uniqueness of the writing system of the Arabic Language. Arabic, as well as Persian and Hebrew are written right to left.
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Actually, they are referred to as “BIDI” or bidirectional languages, so if this is not managed correctly we will face many issues and this can be obvious with, wrong reading orders for numbers, truncated letters, flipped quotation marks and the most serious issue is not connecting the letters correctly.
Such issues need to be managed by GPI professional BIDI developers also they can advise your DEV team on how to avoid future issues in this regard.
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If your website doesn’t support Arabic, it will take a technical effort by developers to ensure your website properly displays the Arabic translation on your website.
4- Will the data and numbers shown on your website be translated into Arabic?
If the website contains data with tables and charts including measurements and numbers and prices, would you like these numbers to appear in Arabic or in English? This is something that must be taken into account in advance, if this is not confirmed while launching the project.
This will cause a serious cost issue to convert the numbers from English into Arabic (Hindi System) or vice versa, this is up to the client preferences, but it will require effort and time if you apply the wrong assumption.
5-Does your website contains pictures or videos, and do you want to translate the content of these videos?
First, are the existing pictures/images appropriate for the target Arabic country in terms of any cultural codes for dress, themes, symbols, etc..? At this point, the translation team must direct and advise you about what should or should NOT be posted or used on the website.
Secondly, do you want to incorporate translations for any content like callouts or legends or subtitles found in pictures and videos? This may require some special technical preparation/work for Arabic speaking web design and desktop publishers who speak Arabic and have the necessary graphics skills.
Arabic website translation decision is not something that the sales department can decide over a quick meeting. It is a professional discussion that requires many questions to ensure the best quality translations and easiest setup. Analyzing and answering the above questions will ensure your multi-lingual website is running smoothly and achieving the desired profit for the company.