WikiArabia is coming to Dubai — the conference's first Gulf visit

The event aims to 'increase quality content on Arabic Wikipedia'

Members of the Wikimedians of the UAE User Group: Hani Yakan, Ahlam Bolooki and Serine Ben Brahim. Photo: Wikimedians of the UAE
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The sixth WikiArabia conference will be held in Dubai.

The three-day event will bring Wikipedia and Wikimedia's contributors and editors together on October 28.

The exact venue has not yet been announced but it will be the first time the event has been held in the UAE, as well as the wider GCC. Previous WikiArabia events have been held in Algiers, Algeria (2021); Marrakesh, Morocco (2019); Cairo, Egypt (2017); Amman, Jordan (2016); and Monastir, Tunisia (2015).

It will be a public event, hosted by the Wikimedians of the UAE user group in partnership with Emirates Literature Foundation.

According to organisers, the event will be "an essential catalyst for bridging the gaps and increasing quality content" on Arabic Wikipedia.

epa08935989 A close-up image shows a woman using the Wikipedia online encyclopedia App on an iPad, in Cologne, Germany, 13 January 2021. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia was launched on 15 January 2001 by co-founder Jimmy Wales and is now one of the most visited website on the Internet. There are articles in around 300 languages, its service is still non-commercial, and the non-profit organization is financed solely by donations. More than three million volunteers write, edit and check the articles. Wikipedia has become a kind of basic knowledge of the world.  EPA/SASCHA STEINBACH

"The conference will serve as a platform for the Arabic Wikimedia community to communicate and share ideas, opinions, and experiences through a packed programme," a representative said. "It is expected these conversations will eventually contribute to the growth of a sustainable society that uses Wikimedia projects as a vital asset in its strategies."

There is an open call for presentation submissions from Arabic Wikimedia user groups to participate; applications and registrations are to be submitted by this Monday. Organisers say the scholarship and programme committees will "evaluate each application before deciding on the conference schedule".

"The UAE is one of the leading nations in the field of data development, and hosting the WikiArabia conference, one of the annual highlights for the Arabic Wikimedia community, is an important step towards emphasising the need to make quality online data free and accessible,” said Ahlam Bolooki, director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and leading manager of the Wikimedians of UAE User Group.

"Since 2021, the Wikimedians of the UAE user group has had the ambitious goal of increasing the number of Wikipedia pages about literature, and so far, we have successfully achieved a 500 per cent increase in that section. This, along with our noteworthy education and outreach programmes, which have been recognised by the global Wikimedia community, makes our user group eligible for hosting the annual event with grants from the Wikimedia Foundation.

"After establishing our user group less than two years ago, we are extremely proud to be hosting the WikiArabia conference in the UAE. We are eager to collaborate with other Arabic user groups and promote our work internationally.”

Last year, Emirates Literature Foundation's Kateb Maktub, in collaboration with Google, announced a competition to increase the number of Arab author pages on Wikipedia, calling on the public to write more articles about Arab authors in the Arabic language.

Ahead of its launch, the foundation offered free webinars on how to create author pages on Wikipedia, so people with no prior experience could also take part.

For more information, visit the Wikimedians of UAE's user group page here.

Updated: July 05, 2022, 1:36 PM