BUiD creating Arabic search solution

University collaborating with Norwegian firm on research

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By  Published  October 13, 2006

The British University in Dubai (BUiD) has launched a joint initiative between its Institute of Informatics, research department and enterprise search solutions provider Fast Search and Transfer (FAST).

The one-year pilot research project 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 as yet been established in the Middle East.

“This is a pioneering collaboration between ourselves and industry leaders in search technology which we trust will be mutually beneficial and lead to long-term collaboration.

FAST has developed search technology with linguistic capabilities for 80 languages, Arabic included, however this collaboration will provide further enhancement of advanced linguistic capabilities for Arabic,” said Dr Habib Talhami, head of the Institute of Informatics at BUiD.

Talhami, who has previously worked on the indexing of Arabic speech databases using advanced speech recognition technology at BUiD, added: “We are hoping to achieve this capability for enterprises and to advance further research in all aspects of Arabic language technology. This is the beginning of our relationship and we intend to expand into further areas of collaboration in the future.”

FAST, a Norwegian-based organisation with offices in six continents, works together with leading universities in 28 counties and their products support 80 different languages.

Muneer Mussa, regional vice president of FAST, said: “There is a growing need for this new technology and we look forward to this partnership to help extend Arabic linguistic research. We are delighted to be involved with the leading research-based university in the UAE.”

Helping to undertake the project will be UAE national and BUiD student Hafsa Raza, who has been sponsored by FAST to work as a research assistant in the region for the team.

BUiD’s Institute of Informatics is partnered with the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, one of the UK’s highest rated research centres in computer science and related disciplines.

BUiD’s Institute currently offers an MSc degree in Information Technology with streams in Speech and Natural Language Engineering and in Knowledge and Data Management, and an MSc in IT Management

BUiD is the region’s first research-based, postgraduate university.

It was established to facilitate access to world-class education, training and research in the Middle East.

BUiD said aspires to the highest, internationally recognized British standards as reflected in its partnership with a number of British universities and now the Cass Business School at City University in London.

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