Souqalmal.com, the leading financial comparison website of the Middle East, launched its Arabic website in the UAE this week.
Customers can now search and compare over 700 banking products including credit cards, loans, mortgages and bank accounts in both English and Arabic, whichever they are most comfortable with.
Arabic language is spoken in over 26 states, with over 310 million native speakers, so it’s no wonder that Arabic websites are becoming more important and sought after by companies.
Recent global figures show that Arabic on the web is growing faster than that of any of the world’s 6,909 languages.
According to World Internet Stats, figures show that from 2000 – 2009, Arabic language on the web grew by more than 2,000 per cent in the last decade. Of the world’s total 1.8 billion web users, 60.2 million (3.3 percent) are Arabic speaking and as many as 3.5 million UAE residents are online.
Ambareen Musa, CEO and founder of Souqalmal.com, says: “During the refinement phase of our website, we realized that our other markets such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are not the only countries that required an Arabic site but the UAE was also a must. 50% of Google searches done in the UAE are in Arabic. My thoughts? Any online consumer site must be able to cater for this demand or you lose half of the active searches online.”
With only two percent of the content on the web being in Arabic, digital experts believe there is a lack of Arabic content on the internet especially in the financial industry.
“Souqalmal.com is a portal that allows users to do their homework before deciding on any banking product. With this in mind, it is critical that they clearly understand the content of the site and there is no better way to ensure this than allows users to read in their native language” she adds.
The UAE is a strong candidate for sites in Arabic considering that e-commerce penetration in the UAE is the highest of all the Arab states at 25.1 percent. (Khaleej Times, 2008) and 84 percent of online users looking to make a purchasing decision on a product gather online purchasing recommendations.
“We are proud to be the first financial comparison site in the Middle East to launch our Arabic site in three countries namely UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. We try our best to stay ahead and more importantly give our users what they need to make an informed decision” says Ms Musa.