Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Google launches user-led Q&A service in Arabic

Google launched an online tool on Tuesday that the Arab allows users to answer each others questions, a step designed to increase the amount of web content available in Arabic.

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The new service comes two weeks after Yahoo Inc. bought one of the Arab world's largest online portals. Like Google, Yahoo wants to better serve the rapidly growing population of young, tech-savvy people in the Middle East.

Google decided to launch its tool, called Google Ejabat after the Arabic word for "answer", having discovered many of its Arab user searches failed to turn up relevant results. The Mountain View, California-based company estimates that less than 1 percent of the information online is in Arabic.

"We recognize that users are the best to answer each others questions within a community, and this product is the perfect way to share and contribute information," said Wael Ghonim, product and marketing manager for the Middle East and North Africa.

Google already offers Arabic search sites, and its Blogger publishing platform is popular among the region's growing corps of online writers.

The company does not offer a service that Ejabat in English, but have released similar tools on the Russian, Chinese and Thai, Dubai-based spokeswoman Joanne's log said.

"We pushed it ahead in Arabic, as we know it to be a very useful tool to generate ... content," she said.

Google's move follows Yahoo announced last month that had reached agreement to buy the Arab online community an unknown amount.

Yahoo said the agreement makes it possible to offer Arabic versions of the e-mail and messaging services as it expands in rapidly growing markets where it has a chance to be online "destination of choice."

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