Do you struggle with reading Arabic online? You’re not alone. Arabic text on browsers tends to be small and difficult to read. But there’s good news: Wudooh is a browser extension developed to make Arabic script more legible.
“Wudooh” (وضوح) means “clarity”, and it’s not the first browser extension of its kind. It’s the successor to Huruf, which serves a similar purpose. According to Bassam Helal, the developer behind Wudooh, however, Huruf has some bugs that he wanted to address. The biggest bug, he says, the one that he found the most annoying, is that Huruf doesn’t load dynamic pages properly. He says that it works fine with static pages such as Wikipedia, “but on a dynamic page like Youtube, Youtube would load the first few comments, the video—and that’s it. If you scroll more, it’ll then load more comments. Those other comments will not be updated.”
Since Huruf is an open source app, Helal wrote a code to fix the bug and sent it to the developer. But the developer did not respond. So he took the initiative and developed a separate app that addresses the issue.
Like its predecessor, Wudooh is open source and free to use. Helal says that he strongly believes in the open source movement and likes to use it to promote the Arabic language—and thus Arab culture—in the digital age.
“I do feel a little bit of responsibility,” he says. “I love the language, I love the culture, and I feel I should help in any way.”
Apps like Huruf and Wudooh might seem insignificant, but they play a role in making the culture more accessible. It’s common for Arabic speakers—including native speakers—to write in English and avoid reading Arabic online, due to the difficulty of reading the script. “You go through Reddit or something, and you see the comments—you see the English comments. You see the Arabic comments, and subconsciously you want to skip them,” Helal says.
“Apps like this would make Arabic reading have less of a barrier to entry,” he adds.
At the end of the day, Helal says, language is a tool. “If you make the tool more accessible, more fun, and more open to people, then there is more of that group that is using that tool and maybe contributing something new”—and consequently, your language becomes richer.