Arabic search engines…a review…Part Deux!

BY UxSoup

After a quick review of Ayna and Araby’s layout, off to the goody stuff, the actual search experience.

I am really bad in typing Arabic, like really bad. Fortunately both search engines, Araby and Ayna, provide a nice feature, the virtual keyboard. How thoughtful for us who suck at typing in Arabic. Really thoughtful and extremely nice feature, till you use it!

I mean come on guys! using a mouse to TYPE?  I cannot find the letters on a regular keyboard, and it won’t help to find them on small virtual keyboard.


People (or they) might say that most their users don’t type using that keyboard, or 99.9% of the Arabic internet users actually type in Arabic, well here’s a quick answer, DO NOT PUT IT THERE IF IT IS NOT NEEDED, you either put something functional and friendly, or don’t put it there at all!

A handful around the middle east are smart enough to come up with something actually usable, yes, Yamli, it is the sweetest thing one can use for transliteration, extremely useful, extremely easy (with the occasional stuborness for certain words) but all in all it’s sweet and way faster than click-typing on a virtual keyboard (Flash info, Arabic keyboard layout on a Mac are different from PCs…)

We were having this discussion today at work and I was asked why don’t they (the search engines) use Yamli’s api (Ayna and Araby) to enhance the experience. The reason is simple folks, Yamli saves all queries (at least how many keywords) done through their site or API, so Mr Yamli will have access to some stats that both engines are secretive about (till they hit high numbers then they’ll start bragging about it)

When Yamli came out, Araby attacked by having a poll if transliteration is a nice feature or not on their blog, and the usual answers, “it’s a conspiracy against Arabs…”  on the other hand didn’t react in any way.

The search results

I will keep it short. WTF!!

Dear Arabic search engines, some of you are “eyeing” Google, others are trying to fill the gaps that Google is missing. Please take a seat all of you and read this carefully; if you want to beat Google, you can’t and won’t do that by providing some “WTF” queries, if I search in Arabic for “Al Sharja’s Educational Forum” and I get this

araby results

or this

Ayna results

I don’t see them even getting near Google. In a recent press release (why not a friendly blog instead of a dry 1990s pr?) Ayna said that they are ditching FAST ESP (well, microsoft acquired it and it all went sour apparently…hmmm) so let’s hope the new engine is better…I promise if I see any good changes I will blog about it…

Aaaanyways, after searching, I found what I wanted on both sites (doesn’t take much to find it, but Google just threw it in my face, here ya go schmuck!) I saw a nifty little feature on Ayna, save listing, I clicked it, and waited, and waited and it still says “saving…” till now.

Araby on the other hand doesn’t offer such a feature (even a non working one), it would be nice if I could save an interesting link without having to actually visit the site and bookmark it.

What Araby offers is suggestions, a feature missing on Ayna’s…

Another thing that really struck me is the end of the page on Ayna, I wanted to try another query and KABOOM! no search bar at the bottom, had to scroll back up to do another search…*cough*

bottom ayna

On a last note – for the time being – speed wise, we got snails, 1.7003 seconds for Ayna, 1.437 seconds for Araby, and the titan 0.26 seconds for Google…

If I want to really scrutinize the search engines we have, it will take volumes to review, BUT we all have to admit that they are trying to do something but unfortunately not trying hard enough.

Next post will be about Yamli, dissecting it (hopefully) and going through what it offers and what is missing, I am giving the other search engines a break for a few days, consider it as an “Entr’acte”.


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Tarek is the founder and chief researcher at Youngberry, a youth research and marketing firm dedicated to the region. Tarek founded and previously worked as Manager at Flip Media (Interactive Agency), (Job Site) and Consulting House Qatar (Consulting firm). He is researcher and writer on internet & disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth culture.