Arabic dubbing in the Middle East started with the late Nicolas Abou Samah, a celebrated Lebanese film director, in the late 70’s when he established his company FILMALI in Lebanon. His initiative sparked the industry in the Middle East given the importance of Arabic localization, as the significance of Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic specifically) cannot be underestimated in the modern world. It is the official language of over 20 countries and there are about 300 million speakers of Arabic across the world. As so, this is a huge potential in the global market growth.
The Arab world exhibits an immense opportunity for media, entertainment and many other different industries to expand their global reach. Nevertheless, Arabic localization is a particularly tricky task due to its complexities and dialects. Many brands chose to localize in Modern Standard Arabic, from those we mention Netflix and Amazon and many other; this seems to be wise choice since it’s the official language used in most if not all Arab countries. By definition, this choice escalated the global reach of these brands. However, and as mentioned before, Arabic is a complex language with many different dialects, which will directly affect the pronunciation when opting to localize in Modern Standard Arabic.
In terms of volume, there’s no doubt that Lebanon and Egypt are the two biggest localization hubs in the Arab region. However, there are some major concerns that should be addressed when deciding which pool of talents to choose from and the reason in mainly due to the local accents. The Levantines (people living in Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon) have almost non-existent local accent when speaking Modern Standard Arabic; consequently they have a better pronunciation then other Arab speakers. Whereas Egyptians, have a predominant local accent that remains present when speaking Modern Standard Arabic. Comparing the two accents is rather simple, taking the letter G as an example. In Modern standard Arabic, it is pronounced “Jee” as in Jar, but Egyptians pronounce it “Gee” as in Galaxy, which is wrong.
Consequently, the increased demands for Modern Standard Arabic localization in Lebanon prove to be reasonable when intending to maximize the reach across the Arab world. With all eyes on the MENA region, it is becoming the future ahead. The market is booming which is pushing international brands to seek every way and opportunity to connect with the market’s demands, and language is a key factor to attain this connection.