Arabic Wikipedia

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Not to be confused with Egyptian Arabic Wikipedia.
Favicon of Wikipedia Arabic Wikipedia
Web address
Commercial? No
Type of site Internet encyclopedia project
Registration Optional
Available in Arabic
Owner Wikimedia Foundation
Created by Arab wiki community
Launched 9 July 2003; 11 years ago (2003-07-09)

The Arabic Wikipedia (Arabic: ويكيبيديا العربيةWīkībīdyā al-ʿArabiyya or ويكيبيديا، الموسوعة الحرة Wīkībīdyā, al-Mawsūʿa al-Ḥurra) is the Arabic language version of Wikipedia. It started on 9 July 2003. As of July 2014, it has over 280,000 articles, 790,000 registered users and over 20,000 images. The Arabic Wikipedia is currently the 23rd largest edition of Wikipedia by article count, and is the first Semitic language to exceed 100,000 articles.[1]

The design of the Arabic Wikipedia differs somewhat from other Wikipedias. Most notably, since Arabic is written right-to-left, the location of links is a mirror image of those Wikipedias in languages written left-to-right. Prior to Wikipedia's update to MediaWiki 1.16, Arabic Wikipedia had a default page background of the site inspired by Arabic/Islamic tiling or ornament styles. Switching from MediaWiki's new default Vector layout to the original MonoBook layout may restore this page background.

"Edit" button on Arabic Wikipedia screenshot, old background in 2008


In 2003 Rami Tarawneh (Arabic: رامي عوض الطراونة‎), a Jordanian PhD student in Germany who originated from Zarqa, encountered the English Wikipedia and began to edit content. Contributors encouraged him to start an Arabic Wikipedia.[2] The Arabic Wikipedia opened in July 2003.[3] At first the main contributors included Tarawneh and four other Jordanians studying in Germany. By 2005 there were fewer than 20 contributors. Therefore Tarawneh and other administrators tried to recruit as many users as possible.[2]

In 2007 the secret police in an unspecified country detained Tarawneh and demanded that he reveal the IP address of a contributor. To protect the Wikipedian, the administrators forged a dispute that was the presumed reason for Tarawneh losing his administrator access, so the secret police was unable to obtain the IP. In response to the incident, the rules now state that no one user may have access to all information about the Wikipedia's users.[2]

Second Conference of the Wikipedia Education Program in Cairo University, Egypt, February 27, 2013

In 2008 the Wikipedia had had fewer than 65,000 articles and was ranked #29 out of the Wikipedias, behind the Esperanto Wikipedia and the Slovenian Wikipedia. Noam Cohen of The New York Times reported that, to many of the attendees of the 2008 Wikimania conference in Alexandria, Egypt, the "woeful shape of the Arabic Wikipedia has been the cause of chagrin."[4] Cohen stated that out of Egyptians, fewer than 10% "are thought to have internet access" and of those with internet access many tend to be knowledgeable in English and have a preference of communicating in that language.[4] The Arabic Wikipedia had 118,870 articles as of 15 January 2010.[3]

As of July 2012 there are around 630 active Arabic Wikipedia editors around the world. Ikram Al-Yacoub of Al Arabiya says that this is "a relatively low figure."[5] At the time there were hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia articles on the Arabic Wikipedia.[2] The Wikimedia Foundation and the nonprofit group Taghreedat established the "Arabic Wikipedia Editors Program" intended to train users to edit the Arabic Wikipedia.[5]


The Arabic Wikipedia has been blocked in Syria with no official reasons given by the Syrian government.[6] The block began on 30 April 2008 while all other language versions of Wikipedia remain unblocked and freely accessible. And it is still blocked in the country so far[when?].[when?] continues to be blocked, which causes all images on Wikipedia (in all languages) to be unavailable.[citation needed] Tarawneh stated that wasta was used to unblock Wikipedia in Syria.[2]

In Saudi Arabia, a few articles on the Arabic Wikipedia are known to be censored; Tarawneh stated that articles about body parts are among the censored articles.[2]

Evaluation and criticism[edit]

Map showing which countries the page views for Arabic Wikipedia come from
Page views to different Wikipedia language versions in Northern Africa and the Middle East, September 2009 to July 2010[7]

In September 2012, Arabic Wikipedia scored 243 in terms of depth (a rough indicator of the encyclopedia's quality). This is better than the German version (89), the French version (159) or the Japanese version (59), making it the 2nd highest +100,000 articles Wikipedia in the terms of depth after English Wikipedia (696).[8]

At Wikimania 2008, Jimmy Wales argued that high-profile arrests like those of Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer could be hampering the development of the Arabic Wikipedia by making editors afraid to contribute.[9]

In 2010, Tarek Al Kaziri, from Radio Netherlands Worldwide, believed that Arabic Wikipedia reflected the Arabic reality in general. Low participation lowers the probability that the articles are reviewed, developed and updated, and political polarisation of participants is likely to lead to biases in the articles.[10]

In 2008, an article from The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper, accused the Arabic Wikipedia of being biased against Israel and on many other issues. The article was written by a journalist who says that he doesn't "read or speak Arabic" and used Google Translations to understand the content of the Arabic Wikipedia.[11]

According to Alexa Internet, the Arabic Wikipedia is the 9th most visited language version of Wikipedia, with the "" subdomain attracting approximately 1.8% of the total traffic of the "" website,[12] despite being ranked no. 25 in term of the article count.

Usage and page views by country[edit]

Florence Devouard, the former president of the Wikimedia Foundation, stated in 2010 that the largest number of articles on the Arabic Wikipedia were written by Egyptians and that the Egyptians were more likely to participate in the Arabic Wikipedia compared to other groups.[13]

Percentage of page views from each country, in the period from 31 October 2012 to 31 October 2013:[14]

Rank Country  % of views
1 Saudi Arabia 19.3%
2 Egypt 18.5%
3 Algeria 12.1%
4 Morocco 8.5%
5 Iraq 4.7%
6 Jordan 3.8%
7 United Arab Emirates 3.7%
8 Tunisia 3.7%
9 United States 2.9%
10 Palestinian territories 2.5%



Logos in different fonts for Arabic Wikipedia:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ List of Wikipedias by number of articles
  2. ^ a b c d e f Su, Alice (14 February 2014). "In the Middle East, Arabic Wikipedia is a flashpoint — and a beacon". Wired (Condé Nast). Retrieved 14 February 2014.  (Archive)
  3. ^ a b Panović, Ivan (University of Oxford Faculty of Oriental Studies). "The Beginnings of Wikipedia Masry." al-Logha Series of Papers in Linguistics, 2010. 8: 93-127. (sourced content from p. 94)
  4. ^ a b Cohen, Noam (21 July 2008). "In Egypt, Wikipedia is more than hobby". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 14 December 2008.  (Archive)
  5. ^ a b Al-Yacoub, Ikram. "‘Taghreedat’ to offer Arab Tweeps their own search engine." (Archive) Al Arabiya. Thursday 19 July 2012. Retrieved on 24 August 2012.
  6. ^ (Arabic) "ويكيبيديا" يختفي عن صفحات الانترنت السوري
  7. ^ Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report - Wikipedia Page Views Per Country, September 2009 to July 2010, map by Ziko van Dijk and numbers by Erik Zachte (recent stats)
  8. ^
  9. ^ Noam Cohen (July 17, 2008). "Wikipedia Goes to Alexandria, Home of Other Great Reference Works". The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2012. 
  10. ^ (Arabic) "ويكيبيديا والعرب: خلل في المشروع أم في الثقافة؟". 
  11. ^ Wikipedia’s Arabic-language Version Skews the Middle East
  12. ^ Alexa - Site Info
  13. ^ Samir, Amira (December 2009). "Le masri est-il contre l’arabe ?" [Is Masri contrary to Arabic?] (in French). Al-Ahram Hebdo. Retrieved 13 March 2010.  (Archive) "« Les Egyptiens sont effectivement les plus nombreux à participer dans la Wikipedia arabe, c’est-à-dire que les statistiques montrent que le plus grand nombre d’articles dans la Wikipedia arabe sont envoyés par des Egyptiens.[...]"
  14. ^ "Page Views Per Wikipedia Language - Breakdown". Wikistats: Wikimedia Statistics. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 

External links[edit]