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Expert Group Meeting on Promotion of Digital Arabic Content (DAC)
3-5 June 2003, UN-House, Beirut, Lebanon

As a follow-up on the Western Asia Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that was held in Beirut from 4 to 6 February 2003, and culminated with the Beirut Declaration, and within the regional preparatory activities for the first phase of the Summit, to be held in December 2003, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) is organizing an Expert Group Meeting on “Promotion of Digital Arabic Content (DAC)” that will take place from 3 to 5 June 2003 at the UN-House, Beirut, Lebanon.
The meeting aimed at identifying the best practices for enabling the Arab countries, particularly in the Western Asia region, to develop the Arabic content on the Internet and various digital media.

The main themes the meeting seeks to address are as follows:

  1. Current situation of the DAC and its status vis-à-vis other international languages;

  2. Major applications that promote DAC, particularly on-line translation, virtual libraries, and education and training;

  3. Information and communications technology issues and tools related to the effective use of the Arabic language on the Internet; such as browsers, search engines, e-mail systems, multilingual sites, as well as XML and HTML languages;

  4. Arabic domain names on the Internet, including procedures and mechanisms needed for their dissemination;

  5. Constituents of the “Content” industry at the national and regional levels, and the means for stimulating and expanding this industry;

  6. Strategies for promoting the DAC in the areas of: (a) Awareness creation and promotion; (b) legal and legislative issues, including intellectual property rights; (c) digitization of the Arabic content; (d) research and development related to the DAC, such as processing Arabic language and recognition for the Arabic script; (e) Arabic translation of technical terms; and (f) increase Internet use in Arab countries.

The meeting was attended by 35 experts, who presented a number of papers addressing the above-mentioned topics, and discussed and explored specific issues in more detail.