The inner workings of the largest website offering Arabic content:

May 31, 2018
Layan Damanhouri

Many find it challenging to find reliable content online in Arabic. While Wikipedia is a global platform used by people around the world, not all the information is found due to lack of translation or reliance on crowdsourcing information.

For your day-to-day inquiries or curiosity in finding out about topics in science, history, health, and so on, one website stands out for the Arabic-speaking audience.

Regarded as an Arabic encyclopedia, is currently the biggest website in the world that provides quality Arabic content according to Effective Measures, a data and insights company.

The team behind the website aim to fill the void of reliable content by publishing informative articles on general and specific topics in numerous fields.

The website was first launched in Jordan in 2010 as a student project by Mohammad Jaber and Rami Al Qawasmi. They self-funded the project and became recipients of a first prize award of the Queen Rania Business Plan Competition Awards a year later.

Providing original content covering a wide range of topics is what drove the success of the website, according to Jaber, a medical doctor and serial entrepreneur.

“This has been our advantage since the start,” he said. “The user base of trusting Arabic-speaking users are expanding accordingly. There is also the word of mouth effect that comes with our goodwill. Behind the web and mobile interface, there are a lot of talented engineers who drive scalable and robust technologies in our systems.”

He further said, “Since the beginning, our vision was to increase the very small percentage of the Arabic content on the Internet that does not reflect the Arabic speaking user base. We focused all of our content generation activities as well as developing technologies and strategies towards that vision.”

The website relies on user experience (UX) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technologies enhance the customer experience of readers.

“For the mobile application, we provide recommended articles and feeds based on the user interest,” explains Jaber. “The app has also come with a new introduced feature ‘short answer’. When applicable, this in-house developed technology displays a short answer for the user search query before listing article search results. We are also supporting voice search as well as reading the answer in voice in the mobile application.”

However, migrating to AWS has boosted where performance has doubled while web and mobile responses were cut in half, according to the founders.

“On an infrastructure level, we’re 22 times more efficient,” said Jaber. “That’s taking into account everything from monitoring to database management and ensuring system security. It’s all faster in AWS. Working in the AWS Cloud also costs about 88 percent less than our previous cloud infrastructure.”

Mawdoo3 Artificial Intelligence (AI) also released products such as Gharred, a mobile app that converts speech to text. One of the unique aspects of the Arabic language is having multiple dialects in the region. The app allows users to insert their dialect and dictates their speech into text instantly. The project initially aimed to develop Arabic voice technologies as voice interaction in knowledge access is a growing trend.

Asked about their upcoming projects, the company says it’s currently developing an end-to-end voice-enabled conversational agent called “Salma”, an Arabic-speaking digital assistant that can answer factoid questions as well as help in basic inquiries such as learning the time, weather or finding hotel bookings. The service also aims to serve businesses in voice interface experience to their customers.

In addition to founding Mawdoo3, Jaber also established AdamTech, a venture-capital company and business accelerator in the ICT sector providing seed capital to entrepreneurs.

May 31, 2018
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