University to advance Arabic IT web with FAST technology

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By  Published  October 31, 2006

The Institute of Informatics at the British University in Dubai (BUiD) and Fast Search & Transfer (FAST), an enterprise search solutions provider, are working together to develop Arabic internet search technology.

The one-year pilot research project, which FAST expects to cost around US$1million, will examine the feasibility of developing an Arabic search engine capable of scanning text pages and the internet to locate names - a resource which has not yet been established in the Middle East.

Dr Habib Talhami, head of the Institute of Informatics at the university, said: "Sadly, Arabic language technology lags behind English language technology by at least 20 years and there is no concerted effort in the Arab world to build a critical mass of researchers to promote and develop Arabic language technology.

"We at BUiD aim to develop such a centre by inviting players such as FAST and also attracting public funding and the attention of governments in this region." According to the companies' agreement, this technology will only be available to students of the BUiD, but Dr Talhami added that in time it could be opened up to a wider audience.

Muneer Mussa, FAST's regional vice president, reinforced this statement, adding: "Through our commercial relationships our plan is to make it available to the consumer market."

The announcement by FAST and BUiD comes just one month after the Maktoob Group unveiled Araby.com, the first commercial search engine to offer advanced Arabic-language capabilities.

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