JEDDAH: Hundreds of female students from a Saudi university have been using their language skills to promote Arab and Islamic content in a global online encyclopedia.
Almost 400 articles have been translated from English into Arabic by 365 students from King Khalid University’s department of languages and translation for use on the Wikipedia platform.
The initiative has formed part
of the Wiki Dawwin project adopted by the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives’ (Darah) publishing house, represented by its center for digital content.
The work was supervised by faculty members via remote courses offered by the center to female students and translated articles were published after being edited and approved for Wikipedia use.
Dr. Zuhair Al-Shehri, dean of the college of social sciences at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University and adviser and director of the Wiki Dawwin project, told Arab News that one of the main aims of the program was to enrich the Arabic content on Wikipedia.
He said this had been done by creating articles and developing and translating them to highlight the history and civilizations of the Kingdom, and the Arab and Islamic worlds.
“The project goals are to work to bridge the gap between Saudi users of the internet and the percentage of digital content, publishing digital materials on the history of the Kingdom and rooting published materials to support Arabic content in various fields, especially educational and cultural areas,” he added.
To help achieve project targets, partnerships have been established with universities and cultural and tourism bodies, and a number of digital enrichment training programs have also been launched.
Al-Shehri said there was a lack of diverse and reliable Arabic content in many areas, especially those related to historical and civilizational subject matter.
“For example, we find that in every province of Saudi Arabia an enormous balance and richness of the cultural heritage of antiquities, landmarks, experiences, and various development in all fields that need to be edited and enriched in this encyclopedia.
“Saudi Arabia’s history needs qualitative and reliable articles, along with our Arab and Islamic history. It’s an urgent need for original works in order to bridge the gap and confront trends with significant goals, and the general voluntary enrichment encouragement and motivation for all people,” he added.
He noted that the university students had come up with their own ideas and taken responsibility for creating reliable content.
“Translation raises the level of linguistic abilities, builds bridges of cultural knowledge, and enriches interaction between Arabs and others who speak English, which is the leading global language.
“Undoubtedly, the implementation of qualitative, reliable, and voluntary initiatives such as the Wiki Dawwin project, launched by educational and cultural institutions such as universities, contributes to achieving this reliability.”
Al-Shehri pointed out that although Wikipedia was free to use and had continuous interaction from participants, qualitative editing ensured the accumulation and building of clients and
active beneficiaries who encouraged and interacted with the historical truth.
“There are opportunities in this encyclopedia for historical enrichment based on sources such as documents, photos, references, etc., all of which support reliable historical enrichment,” he added.