Localizing for the MENA Market: Translation or Localization, Which One Will Lead to a Wider Reach?

MENA region is NOW growing and developing day by day and it’s considered one of the most developing regions around the world. According to Statista the Gross domestic product (GDP) for most of the MENA countries is very high. It refers to the monetary indicator of the total market value of all the finished products and services produced during a given time period. According to it, Saudi Arabia's (GDP) is 1.108.05 billion dollars, for the UAE, it is 507.54 billion dollars, and Egypt's (GDP) is 475.23 billion dollars. These are only the top-performing countries in the region.

This great growth has shown us the wide audience range in MENA and it creates the need to use their language, which is Arabic. But should you use Arabic localization or Arabic translation?

Arabic Localization and Translation, What Is the Difference?

Understanding the distinctions between Arabic localization and translation is crucial when it comes to content adaptation for Arabic-speaking audiences. Both procedures translate text into Arabic, although they have different goals in terms of language services.

1. Arabic Translation: The goal of translation is to translate text from one language into another while retaining its original context and meaning, linguistic precision and cultural sensitivity. Arabic translation is the first step in facilitating cross-cultural dialogue. It helps to close communication gaps and promote comprehension.

2. Arabic Localization: While localization considers cultural nuances and preferences, it entails adjusting the content to the target audience's particular cultural setting. Regional dialects, date formats, and cultural allusions are all taken into account when localizing content for Arabic-speaking regions. Businesses may improve user experiences, engage audiences successfully, and foster trust and loyalty by culturally tailoring their content.

Arabic localization and translation are essential for efficient market expansion and communication. Businesses that put both factors first can overcome communication difficulties, develop genuine relationships, and tap into the enormous potential of the Arabic-speaking market.

Why is Arabic Localization Important?

Arabic localization is considered essential for so many industries such as e-commerce, gaming and technology. Since these are blooming in MENA, using the native language of the region can boost your sales and engagement with your audience.

Here’s why Arabic localization is what your business claims to get into MENA’s market:
1. Connect with a Vast Market:
Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, State of Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen all have Arabic as their official language. 60% of the population, or 268 million individuals are native Arabic speakers. From Egypt's bustling cities to the United Arab Emirates' thriving hubs, Arabic localization empowers businesses to craft authentic experiences that transcend borders. It is the gateway to unlocking the hearts of consumers, forging a profound sense of trust, and nurturing loyalty that stands the test of time.
2. Cultural Relevant Content:
When targeting MENA region, Arabic translation might not be enough. Middle east has its own characteristics that are so important to consider. Through Arabic localization, businesses have the opportunity to become more than just passing tourists. Customers are more likely to connect with your business over the long term and develop a global sense of loyalty when they believe that you share and understand their culture values.

MENA has different customs, traditions, laws and that distinguishes the region. Including these in your localized content will add a lot to your brand.
3. User Engagement and Experience:
Language holds the key to unlocking the world of seamless interactions and delighted customers. For businesses seeking to conquer the hearts of Arabic-speaking audiences, Arabic localization removes language barriers and elevates user experiences to new heights. Arabic localization allows businesses to transcend linguistic boundaries, creating an oasis of user-friendliness where customers feel at ease, understood, and valued.

Your audience will be happy to be greeted with familiar words, expressions, and context that resonate on a deeper level. This level of personalization is what sets brands apart, transforming ordinary interactions into extraordinary experiences.
4. Effective Customer Cycle and Marketing Strategy
Arabic localization goes beyond translation; it's about understanding the intricacies of culture, values, and traditions that define each Arabic-speaking country. Armed with this knowledge, businesses can embark on a journey of creating culturally relevant marketing content that resonates with the local audience.
One experimented fact about Arabic localization is that it has its effect on the customer life cycle. It can give your brand more awareness among your audience, and help you maintain a high conversation rate.

How to Apply Arabic Localization in Different Markets?

Different industries in MENA are growing, and to be part of this growth, speaking the native language of the region is something that must be considered to reach a wider audience and more customers.

Each of these growing industries need specific requirements that we provide at Saudisoft:

1. Games Localization: In gaming localization there are lots of aspects that need to be taken care of such as characters, names, voice acting and culture adaptation.

2. E-learning Localization: to make sure that your educational content is truly understood by your students in different regions. This requires units of measurement and formats, review by subject matter experts and assessments & quizzes adaptation.

3. Legal Localization: legal localization is essential for businesses. To ensure that your legal materials are accurate and valid through complying with local laws and regulations.

4. Software Localization: Software localization is considered essential in this new digital world. Without it, you could lose a wide range of customers. To make sure that your app or website is running perfectly you should consider Arabic software localization.

How Different is Arabic Software Localization for MENA Region?

Arabic localization could be applied in different industries. But when it comes to products such as e-commerce stores, websites, mobile applications or any software systems, Arabic software localization is the key.

The process of changing a software application's language, appearance, and functionality for Arabic-speaking audiences is known as "Arabic software localization." All of your software's components should be localized if you want it to be relevant for Arabic-speaking markets. The user interface, customer service, databases, images, and documentation are all included in this. To guarantee that the final Arabic software is linguistically, culturally, aesthetically, and functionally accurate, it is crucial that all components be accurately localized and put through a thorough testing process.

There are some challenges that could face you in the process of Arabic software localization:

1. Software Display Issues
After the Arabic translation part, the localization process may lead to text shrinkage or expansion. It can be challenging to appropriately fit the enlarged or contracted text into the previously created UI. Therefore, adjustments may be made to the translated content or the UI design. Another solution to this issue is to design an extendable user interface or give the translator a word limit, both of which make the process of translation more difficult.
2. Software Testing Issues
Just like the original version, the translated version of your software needs to be tested. This is done to identify potential issues with the translation and localization procedures.
The existence of some secret text that was overlooked during translation or display mistakes in the user interface are two examples of these issues. Therefore, a native translator should carefully review the translation's finished product.
3. General Arabic Transcription and Subtitling
For the translator to produce the highest-quality translations, understanding the words in their context is essential. The absence of context can be one of a translator's difficulties during Arabic software localization. Because of the lack of context, there may be misunderstandings, which could result in unneeded delays and higher costs.

Taking care of your website’s Arabic software localization could be beneficial for your software product, as it will:

• Contribute to business communications quality.

• Adapt the content of your software to suit the needs of your target market.

• Help you go global and communicate in the native language of your customers.

The Arabic language is a right-to-left language (RTL), which requires a different way for localization to maintain a high-performing software product and good communication with your Arabic speaking audience.

MENA Region Growth over the Years Predicts a Lot About the Future

MENA has gone through a long journey over the years. The last decade has seen lots of the region’s success in many sectors and industries that require Arabic localization.

Gaming, esports, and entertainment are considered some of the sectors that have seen great improvement. Many projects are being built and governments have announced more on the way. Sectors like e-learning, healthcare, and e-commerce are also growing fast to meet the needs of customers in the region. We have discussed the current state of MENA’s region in our article. Commercial Reasons to Localize for MENA Region.

How Dialects are Important When Taking Care of Arabic Localization?

According to Middlebury Language Schools, there are over 25 dialects fall under these three categories (Classical, Modern Standard and Daily Arabic). These dialects differentiate from one country to another, which could affect your content, website ranking, the quality of communication that you have with your audience and of course your sales.

Here is an example showing how using dialects in e-commerce localization could help your customers reach you faster:
Noon is one the leading e-commerce stores in MENA. Despite the fact that it is the same store, selling the same products, and using the same language, the website targets its audience using different keywords for each country in the same region.

When searching for a product like smart phones, people in MENA use different keywords. In Gulf area, consumers might use the word “جوال -Jawal” and in Egypt, consumers use the word “موبايل - Mobile”.

If you used the word “هاتف - Hatif” which is the translation of phone, you won’t be reaching your target audience in each country, leading to a slower customer lifecycle or even losing lots of your customers as your e-commerce will not be ranking on the search engine.

Using un-matching dialects with your customers could lead to losing them and eventually. The accurate Arabic localization put dialects into consideration to make sure the delivered message suits the audience the most.

Examples of Arabic localization that went wrong

Targeting Arabic audience in MENA market is not that tough if it was done right. These are some mistakes that were made when targeting MENA region in Google ads to avoid:
1. Using Poor Call to Action (CTAs)
Call to action is an important part of any advertisement. It’s important to utilize similar calls to actions that are in the native language. Without them, you won’t get the results you aim to achieve. In this piece of content, CTA is not used, leaving the audience with an unclear message.
Using a clear CTA is important as it guides your customer to the next action to your website or products as it shows in this ad.
2. Using English Language When targeting Arabic Audience
Using English language in ads will leave lots of potential customers unreached. Most Arabs use Arabic to search for products. When it comes to searching for electronics, they tend to use English to reach the products faster.
3. Not Using Add Extensions
See the difference in the example below—ads with extensions appear professional and respectable, attracting more clicks. Don't miss out on the power of ad extensions for your campaign.

Arabic language is essential to communicate with governments, NGOs and audiences in the MENA region. Don’t miss an opportunity and start communicating with them today through Arabic localization.