For millions of people across the Middle East and North Africa, interacting with a digital voice assistant like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa is part of daily life. For the vast majority, this interaction is likely to take place in English.
Jordan-based Mawdoo3, the largest Arabic online portal, realised the need for an Arabic digital voice assistant and so, it went about creating one. Given the complexities of the Arabic language and the many dialects spoken across the region, building an Arabic artificial intelligence (AI) tool is no easy feat. But now, after several years of research and engineering, the region has its own assistant: Salma.
We spoke to Hussein Al-Natsheh, chief AI officer at Mawdoo3, about the company’s experience in building Salma, the need for more research and development and attracting talent back to the region.