Arabic Wikipedia

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Not to be confused with Egyptian Arabic Wikipedia.
Favicon of Wikipedia Arabic Wikipedia
Type of site
Internet encyclopedia project
Available in Arabic
Headquarters Miami, Florida
Owner Wikimedia Foundation
Created by Arab wiki community
Commercial No
Registration Optional
Launched 9 July 2003; 13 years ago (2003-07-09)[1]

The Arabic Wikipedia (Arabic: ويكيبيديا العربية‎‎ Wīkībīdyā 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 September 2016, it has over 400,000 articles, 1,200,000 registered users and over 29,000 images and it is the 20th largest edition of Wikipedia by article count; it was the first Semitic language to exceed 100,000 articles.[2]

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


Arab Wikipedians meeting during Wikimania conference in Hong Kong

At the emergence of the Wikipedia project in 2001, there were calls to create an Arabic domain raised by Arab engineers.[3] The domain was created as "" but no serious activity took place except with anonymous users who experimented with the idea.[4] Until 7 February 2003, all contributors to the Arabic Wikipedia were non-Arab volunteers from the International Project Wikipedia[5] that handled the technical aspects. Elizabeth Bauer, who used the user name Elian in the Arabic Wikipedia, approached many potential Arabs who might be interested in volunteering to spearhead the Arabic project. The only group who responded were the ArabEyes team who were involved in Arabizing the Open Source initiatives. Elian's request were conservatively received and ArabEyes team were ready to participate but not take a leadership role[6] and then declined participating on the second of February 2003. During this negotiation time, volunteer users from the German Wikipedia project continued to develop the technical infrastructure of the Arabic Wikipedia backbone.[7][8]

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.[9] The Arabic Wikipedia opened in July 2003.[10] By that year a significant group of contributors included Tarawneh and four other Jordanians studying in Germany.[9]

On 7 February 2004,[11] one member from the ArabEyes, Isam Bayazidi (Arabic: عصام بايزيدي‎‎), volunteered with 4 other friends to be involved with the Arabic Wikipedia and assumed some leadership roles. In 2004, Bayazid was assigned the SysOp responsibilities and he, with another 5 volunteers, namely Ayman, Abo Suleiman, Mustapha Ahmad and Bassem Jarkas[12] are considered to be the first Arabs to lead the Wikipedia project and they are attributed for working on translating and enforcing the English policies to Arabic. The Arabic Wikipedia faced many challenges at its inception. In February 2004, it was considered to be the worst Wikipedia project among all other languages. However, in 2005, it showed phenomenal progress by which in December 2005, the total number of articles reached 8,285.[13] By that time, there were fewer than 20 contributors and the administrators and contributors made efforts to recruit new users.[9]

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.[9]

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."[14] 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.[14] The Arabic Wikipedia had 118,870 articles as of 15 January 2010.

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."[15] At the time there were hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia articles on the Arabic Wikipedia.[9] The Wikimedia Foundation and the nonprofit group Taghreedat established the "Arabic Wikipedia Editors Program" intended to train users to edit the Arabic Wikipedia.[15] By the end of June 2014, the number of articles has reached 384,000[16]


The Arabic Wikipedia has been blocked in Syria with no official reasons given by the Syrian government.[17] 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.[9]

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.[9]

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[18]

In June 2016, Arabic Wikipedia scored 233 in terms of depth (a very rough indicator of the encyclopedia's quality). This is better than the German version (102), the French version (207) or the Japanese version (74), making it the fifth highest +100,000 articles Wikipedia in the terms of depth, after English Wikipedia (930), Serbo-Croatian Wikipedia (561), Thai Wikipedia (253) and Hebrew Wikipedia (251).[19]

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.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22]

According to Alexa Internet, on 26 November 2014, the Arabic Wikipedia is the 10th most visited language version of Wikipedia in terms of percentage of visitors on all of the Wikipedias over a month, with the "" subdomain attracting approximately 1.8% of the total visitors of the "" website,[23] despite being ranked no. 22 in term of the article count. In terms of page views, it is ranked 12th with the same 10 Wikipedias above it plus the Polish and Dutch ones.[24]

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.[25]

Percentage of Arabic Wikipedia page views from each country, in the period from 1 March 2016 – 31 March 2016[26][edit]

Rank Country  % of views
1 Saudi Arabia 20.3%
2 Egypt 14.5%
3 Algeria 10.0%
4 Morocco 9.5%
5 Iraq 4.9%
6 Jordan 4.4%
7 United States 3.1%
8 United Arab Emirates 2.7%
9 Kuwait 2.5%
10 Tunisia 2.3%

Arabic Wikipedia views as a percent of total Wikipedia views for countries in the Arab world[edit]

Rank Country  % of views 1 March 2016 - 31 March 2016[27]
1 Algeria 43.6%
2 Bahrain 26.1%
3 Egypt 57.1%
4 Iraq 59.1%
5 Jordan 61.7%
6 Kuwait 41.0%
7 Lebanon 27.0%
8 Libya 72.7%
9 Mauritania 43.7%
10 Morocco 39.2%
11 Oman 40.3%
12 Palestine 72.9%
13 Qatar 16.9%
14 Saudi Arabia 58.4%
15 Somalia 8.7%
16 Sudan 68.6%
17 Syria 76.8%
18 Tunisia 26.2%
19 United Arab Emirates 12.2%
20 Yemen 76.6%



Logos in different fonts for Arabic Wikipedia:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ahmad, Abdullah (September 2013). "Arabic Wikipedia: Why it lags behind". Asfar e-Journal. London, UK. ISSN 2055-7957. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  2. ^ List of Wikipedias by number of articles
  3. ^ The Arab Scientific Community Organization, profile of Dr. Tareq Qabeel who advocated the creation of the Arabic Wikipedia. Accessed 4 August 2014
  4. ^ Archived discussions about International languages. Refer to section "Provisional is Best, Sort by Population". Note the comment "Outside jokes, the french an german wikipedias is more developed than the one of hindi or Arab.". Last accessed 4 August 2014
  5. ^ Correspondence between Elisabeth Bauer and ArabEyes about the handing over the operation of the Arabic Wikipedia to Arab volunteers. Accessed on 4 August 2014. Note the phrase "First, there are no arabs in the arabic wikipedia, only some people from the other projects willing to help with technical questions about the wiki, but they don't speak much arabic"
  6. ^ Reply from ArabEyes offering participation on tasks. Accessed on 4 August 2014
  7. ^ The first version of the Arabic Wikipedia page created by the German user Stevertigo on 1 August 2003. Accessed on 4 August 2014
  8. ^ The discussion page of Svertigo that shows the non-Arab volunteers working on the Arabic Wikipedia in late 2003
  9. ^ a b c d e f g 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)
  10. ^ 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)
  11. ^ WMFLABS page that provide general statistics about the contribution of Isam Bayazidi on the Arabic Wikipedia. Last accessed on 4 August 2014.
  12. ^ These were Ayman, Abo Suleima, Mustapha Ahmad and Bassem Jarkas
  13. ^ Wikipedia Statistics - Arabic Wikipedia. Accessed on 4 August 2014
  14. ^ a b Cohen, Noam (21 July 2008). "In Egypt, Wikipedia is more than hobby". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 14 December 2008.  (Archive)
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Wikipedia Statistics Arabic. Retrieved on 4 August 2014
  17. ^ (Arabic) "ويكيبيديا" يختفي عن صفحات الانترنت السوري
  18. ^ 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)
  19. ^
  20. ^ Noam Cohen (17 July 2008). "Wikipedia Goes to Alexandria, Home of Other Great Reference Works". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 
  21. ^ ويكيبيديا والعرب: خلل في المشروع أم في الثقافة؟ (in Arabic). 
  22. ^ "Wikipedia's Arabic-language version skews the Middle East". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2016-06-09. 
  23. ^ Alexa - Site Info
  24. ^
  25. ^ Samir, Amira (December 2009). "Le masri est-il contre l'arabe ?" [Is Masri contrary to Arabic?] (in French). Al-Ahram Hebdo. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2010.  () "« 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.[...]"
  26. ^ "Page Views Per Wikipedia Language - Breakdown". Wikistats: Wikimedia Statistics. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  27. ^ "Wikimedia Traffic Analysis Report". Retrieved 6 May 2016. 

External links[edit]