Over 400 million people speak Arabic worldwide as their native or non-native language. Yet it remains underrepresented in the knowledge available on the internet and its digitalized archives. The problem is at the core of the projects developed by Majd Al-Shihabi, a Palestinian-Syrian-Canadian technologist, urban planner, and free culture advocate. He has worked on initiatives like the Palestine Open Maps, as part of Visualizing Palestine, and MASRAD, a platform for archiving oral history.
As he explains, matters of power and institutional barriers dictate what is present and what is accessible in Arabic. Even though massive archival materials exist, their search engines and terms aren’t designed to suit the language and its speakers.
Listen to Majd’s reflections on the need to produce and record more knowledge in Arabic online as a means to promote change.