Google at its largest event in the region announced several new features on Google Search, the launch of Google Assistant in 15 new countries, a new safety feature on Maps and one million USD grant to scale digital skills programs next year.
In showcasing its commitment to make its products more helpful to the Arab world the managing director for Google for the Middle East and North Africa, Lino Cattaruzzi said “Every day, people in the Middle East and North Africa turn to Google for help, to get things done and to learn new things. Over the years, we’ve improved how our products work for in Arabic, whether that was on Search, Assistant, Maps or YouTube. We are committed to making our products more helpful to people in the Middle East and North Africa, and to scale our digital skills program to open opportunities for more people.”
The announcements include:
A richer, more visual Search experience in Arabic
A new display of information in a simple one box related to movie timings, music and sports – three of the top things people search for in Arabic.
Cameos – a new feature that allows public personalities, actors and artists to post videos on the Search homepage where they answer popular questions addressed to them.
Google Assistant in 15 Arab countries
Google’s virtual assistant, designed to help people get things done like making calls, playing music and navigate traffic, will be available in Arabic and will understand the local dialects in 15 countries – United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Mauritania. The Assistant was launched earlier in 2019 in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Updates on Google Maps
Stay Safe – a feature that gives users an “off-route alert” when a driver has deviated from the suggested route by more than 500 meters, with an option to share live trip update with friends and family.
Motorcycle mode in Egypt – a feature to help Egyptian motorcyclists navigate traffic and avoid congested routes
$1 million grant in digital skills
Google.org is regranting Injaz, an NGO that specializes in youth training, $1 million to scale digital skills trainings in Arabic, to reach a further 100,000 people in 2020.
The Google for MENA event was attended by hundreds of people representing government, business leaders, developers and entrepreneurs.
In 2018, Google launched an Arabic digital skills program, “Maharat min Google,” which has reached more than 500,000 young people, women and underprivileged students in the MENA region. 130,000 of those were able to find jobs, grow their careers and their businesses.
A 2019 research by Public First research company estimates that 89% of people in the UAE and Saudi Arabia use Search once a month to learn a new skill, and 80% of online Egyptians use Google Search because it provides new information not available by other means.