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January 14, 2009

Window Opens to Arabic Web

Posted: 10:42 AM ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=

caption=" allows users to search for any Arabic phrase they want."]

French president Nicolas Sarkozy recently called Arabic, “the language of the future, of science and of modernity,” according to the Brussels Journal.  His comments coincide with the French government’s urging of Arabic language and civilization courses in French schools.
If you do speak Arabic or if you’re trying to learn like I am, then you know that it is an incredibly challenging language.  Those challenges extend to the Web where the possibility of finding news and information in standard Arabic script is overwhelming and often incomplete.
Enter  It is an Arabic transliteration search engine that allows visitors to use their Latin keyboards to search for any Arabic phrase they want.  Professors at major universities, including UC Berkeley and Stanford, use Yamli in their Arabic language classes.
“We created the site to solve the everyday problem of typing Arabic,” says Yamli co-founder, Habib Haddad.  “A lot of the content on the Web today exists in two forms: standard Arabic script or messy Latin variations.”
Haddad says most Arab newspapers and professional blogs write in Arabic script.  But he adds that a majority of user-generated content and comments on social networking sites are written in ad-hoc Latin script, which he dubs “Arabizi” or “Arabish” (a portmanteau word).
For example, here is the name of the famous Egyptian singer Umm Kulthoum written in Arabic:
أم كلثوم
Here are a few possible variations in Latin text:

Umm, Om, Oum, Im, Um, Em
Kulthoum, Koltoum, Kalthoum, Kolthom, Kalthoom, Kalthom, Kolthoum


Since there is no proper or exact phonetic match from Arabic to English (Latin text), it creates a widespread problem on the Web because multiple variations exist for a single word.
“It creates a vicious cycle in the Arabic search space,” explains Haddad.  “It starts with the difficulty of typing Arabic, which leads to less people searching for it, and less money for Arabic publishers.”
Yamli offers a solution in that it allows users to spell the Arabic word the way they think it would be spelled in English.  It automatically provides matches from that spelling and other relevant matches from alternate spellings.
Along with text, Yamli offers image search powered through Microsoft’s Live Search API and video search from YouTube.  The search results are instantly presented in two columns: one side in English, the other in Arabic.
"We think we've solved some of the fundamental problems in Arabic search that have not been addressed by the big guys such as Google or Microsoft,” says Haddad.  “We are really excited to already see its positive impact on users and believe it will set a new standard for Arabic search.”

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Nadim   January 14th, 2009 1:15 pm ET

Great to see cnn covering this ... Yamli has really revolutionized the Arabic web ... I work as a consultant for the MENA region and have been using it for a while to do my research . I am impressed by their products especially the search, which give me even better results then Google !

Ramzi Salti   January 14th, 2009 1:37 pm ET

This is a truly magical program. My students in Arabic love it!   January 14th, 2009 1:43 pm ET

Huge fan of, been using it for a while and have turned countless people on to it. Fantastic, intuitive, just freaking brilliant. By far the best arabic language related site I have seen ... well... EVER! Great job!!!

anne   January 14th, 2009 1:58 pm ET

Brilliant Yamli Go Go Go
Best luck always

Jad Joubran   January 14th, 2009 2:01 pm ET

Great Job for yamli 😉
Keep the good work going:D

Chris   January 14th, 2009 2:05 pm ET

I agree that Yamli is a very useful tool I use on a frequent basis. I don't have an Arabic keyboard at my office, but often I need to find things that only pertain to Arabic and it's pretty much the only way I can search. Thanks Yamli!

Franko   January 15th, 2009 8:39 am ET

Fatwah Falafel Internet Burger spiced with pepper and Jihad
Made from Goat Eyes, and a Camel that dared to look inside the tent ?

Take the advice of Ali Baba; Stick to  فلافل  and حمّص  with parsley ?
McDonalds is not multicultural enough

Ghassan   January 16th, 2009 2:15 pm ET

Excellent job! Yamli in my opinion is one of the most successfull "Arabic" start ups and it just keeps getting better. I have been waiting so long for a reliable search for Arabic text. I hope that this article on CNN will help promote Yamli and make it more known in the US.

S Callahan   January 16th, 2009 3:17 pm ET

I wasn't sure what to expect from this article with the headline...catchy.

I like this....wasn't the original Bible written in have an honest translation is great.
As well, if we are truely honest about wanting to be open to others it is useful to help communicate with those who speak the language.
Great idea.

mark   January 17th, 2009 11:50 pm ET

this seems more like CNN turning AD space into a story.

did cnn get paid anything to put this crap on its website?

Franko   January 18th, 2009 3:08 pm ET

The search for فلافل produced more that 100.000 results
Alas, McDonalds, ignoring Allah, not yet into health food

oneStarman   January 18th, 2009 10:06 pm ET

NEWSFLASH – Fish aren't warm blooded and Furry. Of course, PETA wouldn't let logic get in the way of trying to make an inane statement. They are the kind of people that make me hesitate to tell someone I don't know that I am a vegetarian – I don't want to be associated with nut-case sociopaths that try to sway minds by throwing blood on starlets wearing fur. I'm pretty sure Dale Carnegie would not approve.

oneStarman   January 18th, 2009 10:08 pm ET

Sorry about that nonsense – I thought I was posting on another Blog

MMS   January 19th, 2009 8:29 am ET

I assume part of the need for Yamli is because Arabic hasn't had a formalized transliteration system like Wade-Giles or pinyin for Chinese, and that does pose a huge problem. At least this is a step in the right direction, but why doesn't one of the fluent academics invent such a system?

Chip   January 19th, 2009 4:00 pm ET

This is a great development. The more communication walls we can knock down, the harder it will be for propaganda to hide the truth.

Joe   January 20th, 2009 11:04 pm ET

Arabic is the language of the future? Since when did Arabic shoulder out Chinese?

Franko   January 21st, 2009 12:37 pm ET

Now we can expect Jihad, Fatwah computer worms and viruses ?
How big would a can of Arab alphabet soup be ?

Long way to catch up with non- Arab computer terrorist sites
Curious Camel virus poking it's nose into your computer ?

Samir   January 22nd, 2009 8:13 am ET

Fantastic !!! I have saved this as my home page, I think I am going to use Yamli from now on for all my Arabic searches ...

Btw how come CNN is not filtering out offensive comments from people like Franko !

Franko   January 25th, 2009 2:50 pm ET

Samir -
"Btw how come CNN is not filtering out offensive comments from people like Franko !"

You are offending Yamli-self
Seriously, the Terrorists do not possess good virus writing skills
Perhaps, Obama can use a Yamli Virus to catch Osama

the beds   April 27th, 2010 4:52 am ET

the beds the beds the beds

Kevin Mitchell   September 29th, 2010 2:05 am ET

i always do video search of the latest movies on torrent sites-;"

Sleeper Sofa    October 14th, 2010 2:26 am ET

i love to search videos on the internet coz i am also a youtube addict-,,

IUD Side Effects :   October 25th, 2010 1:29 pm ET

is there something like a Video Search engine which could ease up video searches"-

Adam   April 10th, 2011 3:27 am ET is great and I think its great for the internet as a whole. You just have to wonder how long it will survive before Google and Yahoo starts banging on the door? I hope they stay away. Google's monopoly on the internet has to end – Adam

Joan   April 16th, 2011 10:38 pm ET

I've been a fan of the Arabic lingo. No, i am not an Islam but i've been enthusiastic about it maybe because it is ancient and exotic and mysterious. Windows creating an Arabic web is a breakthrough. Excellent innovation leading the way for Google And Yahoo. Competition is healthy for discovering new ideas.

Joan M.

Joan   April 16th, 2011 10:39 pm ET

I've been a fan of the Arabic lingo. No, i am not an Islam but i've been enthusiastic about it maybe because it is ancient and exotic and mysterious. Windows creating an Arabic web is a breakthrough. Excellent innovation leading the way for Google And Yahoo. Competition is healthy for discovering new ideas.

Joan M.
Florist in

Lo digital como oportunidad | La edición digital en los países en desarrollo   April 19th, 2011 3:28 pm ET

[...] Cf. Streit, Valerie: “Window Opens to Arabic Web”, CNN Sci Tech Blog, 14 de enero de [...]

Unehyncnage   April 18th, 2012 2:15 pm ET

hello eking

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Can you let it to be a home page

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