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The Emirates Literature Foundation, together with Google, has launched a new initiative that will vastly increase the presence and visibility of Arab authors online, ahead of World Arabic Language Day. Called ‘Kateb Maktub’, the initiative is designed to boost the number of Arab author pages on Wikipedia, one of the world’s most visited websites with more than 1 bn visitors per month.

Arab authors currently have fewer than 1,500 pages on Wikipedia, lagging far behind author pages in languages such as English, German, or French. This puts writers from the region at a disadvantage, since they are not as easily discovered as their international peers. The initiative aims to increase the number of Arab author pages ten-fold.

The Emirates Literature Foundation is now looking to recruit an army of volunteers to join the movement and become Wikipedia data editors, gathering and sharing content about Arab authors and books so they can be known worldwide. It is working closely with the UAE User Group of Wikipedia to gather information and train volunteers.

“We are extremely proud to launch this hugely important initiative for Arab literature,” said Ahlam Bolooki, festival director for Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. “The Middle East is the cradle of storytelling, yet today it’s hard to find information about our authors and books online. This project will put Arab authors and literature in the spotlight, positioning them on an equal platform with other major literary powers of the world.”

Ahlam continued, “The Kateb Maktub project was established to contribute to the development of a healthy digital publishing ecosystem in the Arab world, which currently struggles with issues such as lack of accessible information online, book piracy and lack of mainstream marketing of books and authors. We hope to tackle all of these touch points throughout the course of this project and bring real change to the world of Arab literature.”

“Organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible continues to be at the core of everything we do. We’re excited to be working with the Emirates Literature Foundation and the UAE’s Wikipedia User Groups to enrich the web with information about the women and men who drive the region’s literary heritage. Our work together will make it easier for anyone in the world to discover Arab writers and to find better information about them and their work in the near future,” said Basel Hijazi, project lead and Google Product Marketing Manager.

It is expected that the goal of publishing 15,000 Wikipedia pages dedicated to Arab authors, in English and Arabic, will be reached by December 2022.