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15/Jun/2016

Arabic PR

Author: David Fearon

Over the last number of years, I have been briefed on a variety of PR roles, from Graduate level to Partner. Working with a variety of companies from, startups and boutiques, global PR firms to corporate communication firms.

Whatever the brief, whether it requires someone with experience in finance or technology or media relations, there is one constant requirement that will always be mentioned. It is either written specifically in the brief as a ‘must have’ or mentioned at the end,

"And if you come across a strong Arabic content writer, I want to see their profile"

For my first couple of briefs, this didn’t seem like a difficult requirement at all, I mean this is the UAE, MENA HQ for 99% of the global & regional PR Firms operating in the region, attracting talent from all over the surrounding, predominantly Arabic speaking countries.

Little did I know how complex the language Arabic is.

My naivety partly on this matter coming from the fact that as a child I spent five years in school here in Dubai, Arabic classes were taught 3 times a week. I remember being able to read and write to a decent standard for 10 year old.

Of the ten or so Native Arabic speakers I briefed for my first PR Account Manager role, only two actually wrote Arabic content from scratch, the others could proof read and edit finished copy but unable to write a full press release. Writing press releases in Arabic was simply something they did not do as they had a translation team who would draft copies of their work in Arabic and send back to them for editing.

Hence the stone cold silence I received when I decided to ask a client,

"If you have a translator do you really need this person to write Arabic copy?"

They did eventually reply,

"I have an office of 35 people, with only six including the two translators that can write Arabic copy"

"I need someone who can sit down and write two press releases, send them to me for proofreading and submitted within a day’s work"

As someone that cannot even speak their own native language, I am not here to go into the details as to why there is a lack of talented Arabic writers available.

All I will say is that, if you are a Public Relations professional and have the capacity to either learn or improve your Arabic writing skills, I would highly recommended that you do.

This one key skill will open the door to many opportunities either now or further along your career path.