The Arabic (Arabic: ويكيبيديا العربية‎) is the Arabic language version of Wikipedia. It started on 9 July 2003. As of November 2017, it has over 500,000 articles, 1,400,000 registered users and over 29,000 images and it is the 20th largest edition of by article count; it was the first Semitic language to exceed 100,000 articles.[2]

The design of the Arabic differs somewhat from others. Most notably, since Arabic is written right-to-left, the location of links is a mirror image of thoses in languages written left-to-right. Prior to's update to MediaWiki 1.16, Arabic had a default page background of the site inspired by Arabic/Islamic tiling or ornament styles. Switching from MediaWiki's new default Vector layout to the original MonoBook layout may restore this page background.

"Edit" button on Arabic screenshot, old background in 2008


Arabns meeting during Wikimania conference in Hong Kong

At the emergence of the project in 2001, there were calls to create an Arabic domain raised by Arab engineers.[3] The domain was created as "ar.wikipedia.org" but no serious activity took place except with anonymous users who experimented with the idea.[4] Until 7 February 2003, all contributors to the Arabic were non-Arab volunteers from the International Project[5] that handled the technical aspects. Elizabeth Bauer, who used the user name Elian in the Arabic, approached many potential Arabs who might be interested in volunteering to spearhead the Arabic project. The only group who responded were the ArabEyes team who were involved in Arabizing the Open Source initiatives. Elian's request were conservatively received and ArabEyes team were ready to participate but not take a leadership role[6] and then declined participating on the second of February 2003. During this negotiation time, volunteer users from the German project continued to develop the technical infrastructure of the Arabic backbone.[7][8]

In 2003 Rami Tarawneh (Arabic: رامي عوض الطراونة‎), a Jordanian PhD student in Germany who originated from Zarqa, encountered the English and began to edit content. Contributors encouraged him to start an Arabic.[9] The Arabic opened in July 2003.[10] By that year a significant group of contributors included Tarawneh and four other Jordanians studying in Germany.[9]

On 7 February 2004,[11] one member from the ArabEyes, Isam Bayazidi (Arabic: عصام بايزيدي‎), volunteered with 4 other friends to be involved with the Arabic and assumed some leadership roles. In 2004, Bayazid was assigned the SysOp responsibilities and he, with another 5 volunteers, namely Ayman, Abo Suleiman, Mustapha Ahmad and Bassem Jarkas[12] are considered to be the first Arabs to lead the project and they are attributed for working on translating and enforcing the English policies to Arabic. The Arabic faced many challenges at its inception. In February 2004, it was considered to be the worst project among all other languages. However, in 2005, it showed phenomenal progress by which in December 2005, the total number of articles reached 8,285.[13] By that time, there were fewer than 20 contributors and the administrators and contributors made efforts to recruit new users.[9]

In 2007 the secret police in an unspecified country detained Tarawneh and demanded that he reveal the IP address of a contributor. To protect then, the administrators forged a dispute that was the presumed reason for Tarawneh losing his administrator access, so the secret police was unable to obtain the IP. In response to the incident, the rules now state that no one user may have access to all information about the's users.[9]

Second Conference of the Education Program in Cairo University, Egypt, February 27, 2013

In 2008 the had had fewer than 65,000 articles and was ranked #29 out of thes, behind the Esperanto and the Slovenian. Noam Cohen of The New York Times reported that, to many of the attendees of the 2008 Wikimania conference in Alexandria, Egypt, the "woeful shape of the Arabic has been the cause of chagrin."[14] Cohen stated that out of Egyptians, fewer than 10% "are thought to have internet access" and of those with internet access many tend to be knowledgeable in English and have a preference of communicating in that language.[14] The Arabic had 118,870 articles as of 15 January 2010.

As of July 2012 there are around 630 active Arabic editors around the world. Ikram Al-Yacoub of Al Arabiya says that this is "a relatively low figure."[15] At the time there were hundreds of thousands of articles on the Arabic.[9] The Wikimedia Foundation and the nonprofit group Taghreedat established the "Arabic Editors Program" intended to train users to edit the Arabic.[15] By the end of June 2014, the number of articles has reached 384,000[16]


The Arabic has been blocked in Syria with no official reasons given by the Syrian government.[17] The block began on 30 April 2008 while all other language versions of remain unblocked and freely accessible. And it is still blocked in the country so far.[when?] Wikimedia.org[when?] continues to be blocked, which causes all images on (in all languages) to be unavailable.[citation needed] Tarawneh stated that wasta was used to unblock in Syria.[9]

In Saudi Arabia, a few articles on the Arabic are known to be censored; Tarawneh stated that articles about body parts are among the censored articles.[9]

Evaluation and criticism

Map showing which countries the page views for Arabic come from
Page views to different language versions in Northern Africa and the Middle East, September 2009 to July 2010[18]

In June 2016, Arabic scored 233 in terms of depth (a very rough indicator of the encyclopedia's quality). This is better than the German version (102), the French version (207) or the Japanese version (74), making it the fifth highest +100,000 articles in the terms of depth, after English (930), Serbo-Croatian (561), Thai (253) and Hebrew (251).[19]

At Wikimania 2008, Jimmy Wales argued that high-profile arrests like those of Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer could be hampering the development of the Arabic by making editors afraid to contribute.[20]

In 2010, Tarek Al Kaziri, from Radio Netherlands Worldwide, believed that Arabic reflected the Arabic reality in general. Low participation lowers the probability that the articles are reviewed, developed and updated, and political polarisation of participants is likely to lead to biases in the articles.[21]

In 2008, an article from The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper, accused the Arabic of being biased against Israel and on many other issues. The article was written by a journalist who says that he doesn't "read or speak Arabic" and used Google Translations to understand the content of the Arabic.[22]

According to Alexa Internet, on 26 November 2014, the Arabic is the 10th most visited language version of in terms of percentage of visitors on all of thes over a month, with the "ar.wikipedia.org" subdomain attracting approximately 1.8% of the total visitors of the "wikipedia.org" website,[23] despite being ranked no. 22 in term of the article count. In terms of page views, it is ranked 12th with the same 10s above it plus the Polish and Dutch ones.[24]

Usage and page views by country

Florence Devouard, the former president of the Wikimedia Foundation, stated in 2010 that the largest number of articles on the Arabic were written by Egyptians and that the Egyptians were more likely to participate in the Arabic compared to other groups.[25]

Percentage of Arabic page views from each country, in the period from 1 August 2017 – 31 August 2017[26]

Rank Country % of views
1 Saudi Arabia 23.3%
2 Egypt 16.1%
3 Morocco 8.0%
4 Algeria 7.0%
5 Iraq 5.7%
6 United States 4.5%
7 Jordan 3.9%
8 Kuwait 3.1%
9 United Arab Emirates 2.7%
10 Tunisia 2.3%

Arabic views as a percent of total views for countries in the Arab world

Rank Country % of views 1 August 2017 - 31 August 2017[27]
1 Algeria 40.2%
2 Bahrain 28.8%
3 Chad 20.1%
4 Djibouti 1.0%
5 Egypt 60.6%
6 Iraq 63.5%
7 Israel 2.3%
8 Jordan 61.7%
9 Kuwait 46.8%
10 Lebanon 27.2%
11 Libya 70.7%
12 Mali 3.3%
13 Mauritania 46.3%
14 Morocco 39.1%
15 Oman 37.3%
16 Palestine 72.5%
17 Qatar 19.2%
18 Saudi Arabia 64.5%
19 Somalia 10.8%
20 South Sudan 14.0%
21 Sudan 70.6%
22 Syria 74.8%
23 Tunisia 28.3%
24 Turkey 4.5%
25 United Arab Emirates 12.0%
26 Yemen 81.5%



Logos in different fonts for Arabic:

See also


  1. ^ Ahmad, Abdullah (September 2013). "Arabic: Why it lags behind". Asfar e-Journal. London, UK. ISSN 2055-7957. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  2. ^ List ofs by number of articles
  3. ^ "المستشار / طارق قابيل". 
  4. ^ Archived discussions about International languages. Refer to section "Provisional is Best, Sort by Population". Note the comment "Outside jokes, the french an germans is more developed than the one of hindi or Arab.". Last accessed 4 August 2014
  5. ^ "arabic". 
  6. ^ "We have a problem!". 
  7. ^ "ويكيبيديا:الميدان". 1 August 2003 – via. 
  8. ^ The discussion page of Svertigo that shows the non-Arab volunteers working on the Arabic in late 2003
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Su, Alice (14 February 2014). "In the Middle East, Arabic is a flashpoint — and a beacon". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 14 February 2014.  (Archive)
  10. ^ Panović, Ivan (University of Oxford Faculty of Oriental Studies). "The Beginnings of Masry." al-Logha Series of Papers in Linguistics, 2010. 8: 93-127. (sourced content from p. 94)
  11. ^ "X!'s tools". 
  12. ^ These were Ayman, Abo Suleima, Mustapha Ahmad and Bassem Jarkas
  13. ^ Statistics - Arabic. Accessed on 4 August 2014
  14. ^ a b Cohen, Noam (21 July 2008). "In Egypt, is more than hobby". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 14 December 2008.  (Archive)
  15. ^ a b Al-Yacoub, Ikram. "‘Taghreedat’ to offer Arab Tweeps their own search engine." (Archive) Al Arabiya. Thursday 19 July 2012. Retrieved on 24 August 2012.
  16. ^ Statistics Arabic. Retrieved on 4 August 2014
  17. ^ (in Arabic) ويكيبيديا يختفي عن صفحات الانترنت السوري
  18. ^ Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report - Page Views Per Country, September 2009 to July 2010, map by Ziko van Dijk and numbers by Erik Zachte (recent stats)
  19. ^ "List ofs - Meta". 
  20. ^ Noam Cohen (17 July 2008). "Goes to Alexandria, Home of Other Great Reference Works". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  21. ^ ويكيبيديا والعرب: خلل في المشروع أم في الثقافة؟ (in Arabic). 
  22. ^ "Wikipedia's Arabic-language version skews the Middle East". The Jerusalem Post JPost.com. Retrieved 2016-06-09. 
  23. ^ "Wikipedia.org Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". 
  24. ^ "Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report - Page Views Per Language - Breakdown". 
  25. ^ Samir, Amira (December 2009). "Le masri est-il contre l'arabe ?" [Is Masri contrary to Arabic?] (in French). Al-Ahram Hebdo. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2010.  () "« Les Egyptiens sont effectivement les plus nombreux à participer dans la arabe, c’est-à-dire que les statistiques montrent que le plus grand nombre d’articles dans la arabe sont envoyés par des Egyptiens.[...]"
  26. ^ "Page Views Per Language - Breakdown". Wikistats: Wikimedia Statistics. Retrieved 21 September 2017. 
  27. ^ "Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report". Retrieved 20 September 2017. 

External links

Media related to Arabic at Wikimedia Commons