Removing Barriers for Arabic Expansion

Removing Barriers for Arabic Expansion

It’s road construction season in Minneapolis. That means orange signs with massive blinking arrows — the ones that signal that your commute is about to take twice as long. And then the dreaded concrete barriers that make half of the lanes on the busiest freeway in the city totally inaccessible.

Now picture the road construction completed: extra lanes added, new interchanges built, and all the workers and equipment gone. But imagine the barriers are left in place. A week. . . a month. . . a year goes by and still those barriers continue to make the new road and interchanges inaccessible.

Here at Desiring God we want to help people everywhere understand and embrace the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. We’ve built an online library full of resources to facilitate this, but concrete language barriers remain in place, preventing millions of “people everywhere” from being able to understand and embrace this truth.

Arabic on the Web

Offline, Arabic is the fifth largest language in the world with over 280 million native speakers. Online, it has the seventh largest user population; however, only about 3% of web content is actually available in Arabic. Recognizing this, last November Google launched it’s first annual initiative called “Arabic Web Days” aimed at boosting Arabic web content. Among social media it’s estimated that there are currently over 43 million Arabic Facebook users, and Twitter has also seen significant Arabic growth.

In 2012, we saw a 175% increase in Arabic traffic to the Desiring God website. We currently have more than 56 resources translated into Arabic along with an Arabic interface so that Arabic readers can navigate our site without knowing any English. We are delighted that more Arabic readers have benefited from these resources but we also long to see this growth continue (56 resources is less than 1% of the content on the Desiring God website).

A New Barrier Removal Team

Like the concrete barriers on the freeway, we want to see language barriers removed on the Internet so that more people can access God-centered content. But removing these barriers will require heavy lifting in the form of translation, and we can’t do this on our own. Making our content accessible in Arabic will require a barrier removal team. As we have recently done in Spanish, Portuguese and Korean, we are inviting our bilingual Arabic readers to join with us in this work.

If you are a bilingual Arabic reader and would be overjoyed to see more resources available to millions of Arabic speakers, would you consider joining our Arabic translation community?

Let’s join together to remove more barriers. . . for the joy of all peoples!

Seth Magnuson (@SethMagnuson) is a content strategist at Desiring God who works with translated resources. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Rachel, and their two children, Ana and Aden.