The current situation in the Arab region reveals a number of hindrances facing the development of an Arabic content industry. Despite the numerous challenges that face the development of this industry in the Arab region, the opportunities of success are extensive, given the fact that the Arabic language is official in all the countries of the region and the presence of more than three hundred million Arabic speakers in addition to the Arab expatriates all over the world. This implies the existence of possibilities for cooperation in resolving technical issues related to the production of DAC and investment in software and applications in Arabic. Regional integration is thus highly important to the development of a DAC industry.
Within this context, the Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD) at UN-ESCWA launched a series of Digital Arabic Content (DAC) competitions in five member countries during the months of June and July 2008 for promoting the DAC industry in western Asia in partnership with specialized technology incubators located in Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Yemen.
The competitions aim at selecting the best innovative DAC projects which may contribute to various socio-economic sectors such as education, health, government, culture, and media, thus promoting involvement in the DAC domain in view of its importance as well as the availability of new opportunities for market access. The competitions specifically target entrepreneurs and university graduates wishing to develop digital Arabic content ideas and concepts into viable ICT products. The competitions fall within the framework of the project on “Promotion of the Digital Arabic Content Industry through Incubation” which aims at developing the DAC industry in Western Asia.
The launching events included presentations on the importance of the DAC industry, the modality of competing and evaluation as well as an overview of the partner incubators’ services. The launching commenced with opening speeches and welcome notes by involved university presidents and incubator directors. Discussions that took place revealed high interest in promoting the Arabic language in the IT domain in spite of the foreseen obstacles and difficulties.
The number of participants attending the event ranged between 40 and 300, varying between countries and representing universities, colleges, NGOs, private enterprises involved in the DAC domain as well as students. Noteworthy is also the participation of the media which played an essential role in raising awareness on the importance of DAC.
UN-ESCWA and the partner incubators continue to invite all eligible entrepreneurs and university graduates interested in participating in the competition by submitting a duly completed application form to one of the following incubators: Berytech Technology and Health in Lebanon, the Palestinian Information and Communications Technology Incubator in Palestine, the Jordan Innovation Centre at Philadelphia University in Jordan, the ICT Incubator in Syria and Aden ICT Incubator in Yemen. It is worth mentioning that the latter incubator in Yemen was inaugurated during the launching event of the competition where winning projects will be the first to enter the incubation process.
For further information, please refer to the project’s website at the following address: http://www.escwa.un.org/divisions/projects/dac/index.asp