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Yahoo! licences Yamli transliteration engine

Deal will allow Yahoo! Maktoob to add transliteration to its services

Ahmed Nassef, vice president and managing director, Yahoo! Maktoob and Habib Haddad, co-founder of Yamli.
Ahmed Nassef, vice president and managing director, Yahoo! Maktoob and Habib Haddad, co-founder of Yamli.

Yahoo! has acquired a licence for Yamli's transliteration technology, which helps Arabic speakers to use a non-Arabic keyboard to type in transliterated Arabic.

The web giant plans to integrate the technology across a number of its products and services for the Middle East and North Africa region.

Yamli is a real-time transliteration engine, which converts words typed with Latin characters into their Arabic equivalent, which allows Arabic speakers to use non-Arabised keyboards.

Yahoo! Maktoob will initially launch the technology as ‘3arrebni' (Arabize me), as a standalone destination page, and then will look to further integrate into its products including email, messaging, search, forums and the comments sections of its media offerings.

Ahmed Nassef, vice president and managing director, Yahoo! Maktoob, said: "Yamli is a pioneering startup that created a clever solution for a real user need and built it on a robust technology, which remains best in class. By acquiring a license to the technology, we will be able to marry it with our capabilities to further develop it and scale it to a wider audience through deep integration with our products and across multiple platforms. When looking at opportunities, we seek innovations that we expect to add significant value to our offering, and Yamli, with its technology that brings exceptional accuracy and seamless usability, was a natural fit.

"With the introduction of ‘3arrebni' across our products and platforms, we are enriching Arabic content online by enabling participation that brings Arabic characters to the forefront, which often times would have been done using the English language or Latin characters. We're very excited to be bringing this service to our users, and potentially introducing this solution to a whole new audience for the first time," he added.

Habib Haddad, co-founder of Yamli and who now runs Wamda, an enabling platform for entrepreneurs in the MENA region, said: "Yahoo! established a big success story within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region when it acquired Maktoob, and it is great to see it continue to support and work with startups. This deal represents a milestone for Yamli, which over the years has been growing at an incredible rate. More than 3.5 billion words have been typed with Yamli to date, at a rate of 150 million words per month."