It’s not just Google’s tools that are being used to facilitate the elections in Egypt today- Yamli, the Arabic transliteration engine created by Wamda’s CEO Habib Haddad and co-founder Imad Jureidini, was used to help anyone with a non-Arabic keyboard register to vote.
While Yamli is widely known as an easy web tool for transliterating words into Arabic, here its smart keyboard took users a step beyond expert bilingual search to critically open up the elections to the Egyptian disaspora and anyone without an Arabic keyboard who needed to register.
Twitter account Egyptians Abroad especially encouraged expat Egyptians not to let a lack of Arabic typing ability hold them back, tweeting “If you don't have an arabic keyboard you can use yamli in the registration form. Just type in franco arab... #egaboard #egyelections” on November 15th.
Perhaps it’s not an accident that November 15th also marked Yamli’s 2 billion word mark (and its 4th anniversary), meaning over 2 billion words have been transliterated into Arabic since its launch in 2007. Over 4 million words are transliterated daily, mostly in Saudi Arabia, Tunis, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Jordan… perhaps now Egypt will climb to the top of the list.
While elections under Mubarak may have been a farce, and the recent protests speak to voter frustrations with continued military control over the country, the use of Yamli in voter registration forms demonstrates post-revolution progress towards simpler and more transparent voting in Egypt.