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Palestinian to launch $10 million Arabic online encyclopaedia


July 11, 2013 10:35 by

A 75-year-old Palestinian businessman is on a $10m mission to boost Arabic on the Internet, where it accounts for less than one per cent of websites, despite being spoken by one in 20 people worldwide.

If Talal Abu Ghazaleh, owner of the education and professional services firm, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org), has his way, then by the end of this year, a free online Arabic encyclopaedia called, Tagipedia, will be launched with a million entries.

“I see it as a means of building an Arab knowledge society, which is my mission in life… to contribute to the economic and social development of the Arab world,” he told Reuters.

About 350 million people, or five per cent of the world’s population, consider Arabic as their first language, while hundreds of millions more are familiar with it through Islam’s holy book, the Quran.

However, only 0.9 per cent of the websites use Arabic, placing it at 13th overall, behind the likes of Polish and Dutch, according to the web analysts, W3Techs.

TAG-Org, which has its headquarters in Jordan, and has 80 offices around the world, began as an accounting firm, and has diversified into other sectors, including: education, information technology, intellectual property and legal services.

Ghazaleh describes the website as an act of philanthropy.

Unlike Wikipedia, whose content is created by users, Tagipedia will have a more traditional form, with all entries vetted for accuracy and relevance before publication.

Ghazaleh expects it to have one million entries by launch, compared to Wikipedia’s 235,000 or so articles in Arabic.

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