The Wikimedia Foundation continues to build momentum around activities focused on the Arabic language region. At the end of March, Barry Newstead visited the region and Moushira Elamrawy (Consultant, Arabic Language Initiative) conducted a number of outreach activities in various Arabic speaking countries. The Arabic Language initiative is a strategic priority for the movement and the Foundation. The visit sought to establish relationships with potential partners and to begin a dialogue on the importance of building Arabic Wikipedia as part of regional efforts to expand Arabic language content on the Internet.
The first stop was at the Dead Sea in Jordan. Moushira was invited by the e-mediat program to conduct a workshop for participants from more than 20 NGOs from Lebanon and Jordan. Several Lebanese and Jordanian NGOs working in the areas of history preservation, video blogging, and human rights showed interest in organizing Wikipedia sessions for their members and incorporating their up-to-date, sourced data from their research into Wikipedia articles. According to a recent study, Jordan’s contribution to online content is mainly in Arabic, and the country is one of the main contributors to the 3 percent of global online content that is in Arabic, an interesting fact which opens doors to fruitful activities.
Next Moushira traveled to Morocco, which, despite its reputation as a francophone country, is the 4th largest content contributor to the Arabic Wikipedia. Her first stop was Tetouan, in northern Morocco, where she hosted a session at The National School of Education, a government-funded higher education institute. It included a talk about Wikipedia by Fayssal, a local of Tetouan and a longtime Wikipedian (formerly a member of the English Wikipedia’s arbitration committee), and Zack, a significant contributor to the Arabic Wikipedia from Meknes, who led a workshop on how to edit Wikipedia. The attendees asked rich and diverse questions, e.g. on neutrality, fundraising, and how the Arabic Wikipedia could be improved. The school administration was excited about hosting more sessions and about considering how Wikipedia could be efficiently incorporated in their curriculum.