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Spotlight on the Digital Arabic Content industry as ESCWA participates in conference in Damascus


The Digital Arabic Content Industry (DAC) is significantly contributing to the development of a comprehensive information society for all, helping to improve the knowledge-based economy and creating new jobs in different vital areas as well as preserving identity, language, cultural and civilizational heritage in this digital age.

Within this context, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) participated to the Second Digital Arab Content Industry Conference entitled " Knowledgeable Content in Syria– Building, Managing and Harnessing." It was held in the capital of the Syrian Arab Republic, Damascus, from 31 August to 2 September, under the patronage of Najah Al Attar, Syrian Arab Republic Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Syrian Virtual University.

The conference organized by the university in collaboration with a number of scientific, economic and research institutions was attended by educational, governmental and scientific experts. It covered the following topics: educational and scientific content; government administrative content; government service content; cultural content, and media and commercial content.

Within the framework of the ESCWA digital Arabic content initiative, the Commission’s Chief of Innovation Section, Nibal Idlebi, presented a keynote paper on "Creating the Digital Arabic Content: Reality and Prospects."

"Most businesses today are shifting to the digital world,” she said. “For example, statistics show that digital revenue growth in the books, media and entertainment sector has grown to more than 50 per cent this year [2018], while it did not exceed 37 per cent five years ago [2013], thus creating great opportunities for the Arab world in the DAC industry.

Speaking about how to develop the DAC industry, Ms. Idlebi highlighted the need for national strategies that define visions and objectives and identify the main axes that must remain in focus.

“This includes providing a suitable business environment to stimulate the private sector, establishing emerging companies, capacity-building for innovative investments in the emerging technologies, and increasing high-quality information and communication technology infrastructure," she noted.

While Arabic speakers represent 5.3 per cent of the internet population, Arabic websites only represent 0.6 per cent of total website, showing that the DAC is still weak.. Meanwhile, according to many statistical surveys, most residents of the Arab region prefer to access information in Arabic.

At the conference, participants put forth recommendations, including many of those presented by ESCWA, and called for the formation of a team of stakeholders to prepare a sustainable national policy for the DAC in Syria; the establishment  of a virtual think tank to bring together intellectuals in Syria and the diaspora, and the building of adequate capabilities for the development of digital educational and research content through a steering committee set up by the Ministry of Higher Education.

The recommendations also included setting up a committee to launch an annual DAC competition with funds for projects; encouraging the banking sector to invest in venture capital and support small businesses, entrepreneurship in the DAC industry in addition to convening a periodical conference on DAC every two years.

ESCWA raised awareness about the importance of developing the DAC industry by organizing expert meetings to discuss its promotion. It also produced numerous reference studies and has implemented initiatives to support entrepreneurship and encourage young people to move towards the industry. These projects included training workshops in addition to creating opportunities for youth through national incubators.
More information on ESCWA’s work in the field of Digital Arabic Content is available here:
For more information on the conference: