Typing in Arabic on a Qwerty keyboard – a simple free download

In my local library I often pass by the computer section, where people are sitting typing away into Hotmail in languages I don’t understand (I live in rural Oxfordshire, so much of the time I think it’s eastern European languages). And I guess they’ve become fluent in finding the key combinations to create the accents, umlauts etc. But I’d never considered that it would be possible to send an email in Arabic from a qwerty keyboard.

Microsoft Maren looks ideal for any computer where there may be a requirement for Arabic as well as Roman languages. For example, in a community access suite, or open access areas such as libraries.

imageLack of access to an Arabic keyboard or lack of familiarity with one are two of the most common problems preventing Arabic users from communicating in their own language.

But the team at the Cairo Microsoft Innovation Lab have, and they’ve created a simple Windows extension that allows users to easily chat, search, blog, email and create documents in Arabic, by converting it on the fly from Roman characters.

It’s available as a free download from the Maren website, and there’s also a funky animation that shows how it works.

Microsoft Maren allows you to type Arabic in Roman characters (Romanized Arabic, Arabizi, Arabish or Franco-Arabic) and have it converted on the fly to Arabic script.

This download isn’t just for education institutions – you can also point students to the site if they want to download it for their home PCs.

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