DUBAI // Google Buzz, the internet search giant's new social networking service, will be available in Arabic within 90 days, the company said yesterday. The service, which was unveiled on Tuesday in California, is an ambitious product that replicates many of the features of sites such as Facebook and Twitter within Gmail, Google's web-based e-mail service.
Buzz is part of the company's strategy to provide Arabic-language internet tools - a strategy that is "front and centre" of Google's plans in the Middle East, Mohammad Gawdat, the managing director of emerging markets for Google, said at a company event in Dubai. "I do not recall a single time where I met Eric Schmidt [the chief executive of Google] where he did not say, 'What is up with Arabic? How well are we doing on Arabic?'," Mr Gawdat said.
Last year Google decided that the Middle East had graduated to a level where Arabic content and information would be able to grow without the company "holding its hand", Mr Gawdat said. In September, Google launched Ejabat, a question-and-answer website that has signed up more than 100,000 users, for the Middle East. Mr Gawdat was joined in Dubai by Vint Cerf, a vice president of Google who is widely known as the "father of the internet". Both stressed the need to increase innovation in the Middle East to spur economic development.
"The region does not have to catch up to the rest of the world when it comes to the internet, but instead try to leapfrog the rest of the world by creating things that don't map where the internet was in the US five years ago," Mr Gawdat said. "We just lead in some of those industries." @Email:email@example.com