Many of the translators who work from typing offices in the UAE have a new competitor: Qordoba.
The developers of the online venture, which had its soft launch last month with the Web address qordobatranslation.com, spent much of the past year developing their own machine translation technologies.
Some of the Qordoba innovations can now be integrated into a client's office for easier translation in-house, although the company's goal was to create a suite of solutions.
One feature helps clients switch between English and Arabic during repetitive types of translations, such as with the creation of product manuals or descriptions of goods on a company's website.
Another tool is an automated glossary tailored to a client so that a word such as Google is always spelled a certain way in Arabic.
"That way, no matter who is working on your translation - it could be a translator in the UK, an editor sitting in Damascus or someone in Dubai - they're going to see the client's style preference," says May Habib, the founder and chief executive of Qordoba.
"We really wanted to figure out how to use the latest technologies to streamline what is a very headache-inducing process for both local companies as well as multinationals that do business here," Ms Habib says.
Globally, the sales of language translation software reached US$575.5 million (Dh2.11 billion) in 2010 and is forecast to grow to $3bn within the next five years, according to market data released last year by WinterGreen Research.
"Language translation software markets are growing because business is expanding in a manner that provides enterprise presence all over the world," WinterGreen's report reads. Qordoba has taken a high-tech approach with some its translation features, although it relies on an online network of more than 400 human translators and editors in about 30 countries and 15 time zones.
Having so many experts ensures someone is always available to handle a volume of work that Ms Habib acknowledges has at times "overwhelmed" the company.
But while Qordoba is working to build its business and provide translations in six languages by the end of this year, it does not expect to recoup its recent investments in technology and break even for another three months.
The company says it has raised a round of angel financing from current and former partners at Intel Capital, and from Mubadala Developmentand Fadi Ghandour, the chief executive of Aramex.
Translators in the UAE charge an average of 20 to 40 US cents per word, and some charge as much as 50 cents per word, Ms Habib says.
Even though Qordoba offers different plans that cost 10 to 20 cents per word, Ms Habib says the company focuses on marketing its quality of translations and turnaround speed of eight to 48 hours once a business submits a letter, menu or other document to be translated.
"We actually don't use price as a competitive advantage," Ms Habib says.
Qordoba's business model depends on a growing global pool of freelance translators, copywriters and editors. They tend to have a few years experience in the field, especially working with English and Arabic, says Darine Sabbagh, the head of marketing for translator communities at Qordoba.
"They also have to be internet-savvy and able to work online," Ms Sabbagh says.
The freelance sector has been increasing considerably in developed countries such as the US, according to reports, and Ms Habib argues that this kind of work will become a permanent part of developing economies as well.
"I think that especially in the Arab world, this labour model will be a key driver of job creation over the coming years," she says.
"Post-Arab Spring," she adds, "you'll have millions of young people forced to look beyond the government for economic security."