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Google hints at more localised products for region

Emerging Markets MD says company is interested in serving region the way it needs to be served

Google hints at more localised products for region
Mohammad Gawdat, Google MD for Emerging Markets, delivers his keynote address at the Google Day Arabia 2.0 event.

Google's managing director for Emerging Markets Mohammad Gawdat promises that the company is focused on serving the interests of people in the Middle East and hints at more localised products and services after the successful launch of its Arabic Q&A service Ejabat in September last year.

Google's priority is to get the most ‘impactful' parts of Google to the region first and that new tools and products specifically for the Arab world could be part of that plan.

"Ejabat has been extremely successful. It answers a very interesting part of the needs of the Arab community. Not only is it doing great in terms of page views, which I think is a reasonable measure, but people are really happy using it and are coming back and contributing," stated Gawdat. "There is tremendous interest to serve the region in the way the region needs to be served, so expect lots of good things to come."

At the recent Google Day Arabia 2. 0 event held in Dubai the company talked up the need for innovation in the region and promised that all of its products and services would be made available in Arabic within 90 days of its launch.

"What you'll definitely see this year and going forward is a more rapid pace of innovation but just how much of it comes to which languages is what is governed by something we call the 40 languages initiative. Basically it brings the usability of every Google product to 96% of the users of the internet, which is in 40 languages, hopefully within the first 90 days of launch," Gawdat explained to ITP.net just a few days before its new social networking service Buzz was made available to GMail users in Arabic.

"Sometimes some products will never come; there could be policy issues, availability issues or even cultural sensitivity issues. But we strive to bring them over at least to be useful and usable in that local language in that given time frame," he continued.

But Gawdat firmly believes that just making Google products available in Arabic isn't the most pressing issue that needs to be addressed.

"I definitely think that there's more important things to do than Buzz; than the flashy products. The number one mission for the Middle East region, if you ask me, is the democratisation of information - to make the same level of information available to a Harvard student available to an Arabic speaker. I think it's much more important than other things," concluded Gawdat.

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