what is the difference?

Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions from our clients is, What is the difference between translation and localization?” The confusion is understandable considering the frequency in which the two terms are used interchangeably. Even when different definitions are given, these theoretical distinctions become blurrier in practice. Disagreements in the field abound, but for the purposes of assisting our clients in deciding which service to select, here is how e-Arabization distinguishes between the two practices:

    1. Translation: the process of translating source text in any medium in its native language (‘source language’) into another language (‘target language’). In contrast to localization, a translation is limited to linguistic content and usually aimed at a general audience.
    2. Localization: Based on a more targeted approach, localization is the process of adapting a translation or non-text content to the locale of target audience. Common localization targets include multimedia (videos, audios, graphics); digital products or services (software, websites, mobile apps); design (layout, typesetting); and abstractions (cultural ideas or conventions).


          which service to choose?

Many clients opt for localization over translation, although this might not be necessary. To make an informed decision, clients are encouraged to consider and assess their needs and priorities of a client and their product or service. To help you do so, consider a case in which a multinational company with a recognizable designer brand is seeking to launch their online store in a foreign market. In a case as such, translation services suffice, as an online store is heavy on the visuals but light on linguistic content. When users’ experience primarily revolves around shopping and the designer brand is universally recognizable, it makes it more feasible for the text to be translated, as it will be simple and fairly accessible.

It is recommended for an informational website to opt for the localization service. As in this case, user experience primarily revolves around understanding the ideas and concepts found within the content. This is applicable, for example, to an up-and-coming bank with little brand recognition in the target market launching their Islamic banking services, or an international organization establishing an online advocacy or a capacity building campaign. Given the complexity of these objectives and other considerations such as the need for cultural or political sensitivity, a localization service is going to be the wiser investment. In the long run, the benefits of localization—an enhanced user experience, increased target audience readership or online reach, a ready-made product or service for scaling up in other similar target markets, etc.— far outweigh the costs incurred.

          translation services

In a nutshell, a client should opt for translation—our baseline service—if their product or service…

    1. …targets a national audience or general demographics, and;
    2. …conveys universally accessible ideas; or
    3. …offers a simple, universally accessible experience; and
    4. …does not require non-text content such as layouts or multimedia to be culturally adapted


We offer full or selective translation services for source text in any medium:

    1. Digital: software, mobile apps, websites
    2. Print: documents, files


At e-Arabization, we begin the translation process with identifying targets for translation of source text. This strategizing is done in consultation with our clients during the project planning stage. Depending on the project itself, a  translation glossary and/or a translation memory (TM) to standardize given terminology or phrases is developed. If applicable, the translated content goes through a process of refinement through optimization, such as search engine optimization (SEO) or app store optimization (ASO). Upon the completion of the translation phase, quality assurance (QA) specialists thoroughly and rigorously evaluate the translated text.

          localization services

In a nutshell, a client is advised to opt for localization, our “translation plus” service, if their product or service:

  • targets a local audience, regional audience, or cultural demographics, and;
  • conveys a complex idea or concept in which understanding is a key objective; or
  • contains content which requires cultural, political, or legal sensitivity or adaptation; or
  • requires non-text content such as layouts or multimedia to be culturally adapted


We offer full or selective localization services for any medium or content (textual, visual, audial, etc.):

    1. Digital: software, mobile apps, websites
    2. Print: documents, files


At e-Arabization, the localization process begins with identifying targets for localization of linguistic and non-text content. For example, a common target for software, mobile app, and website localization is converting the layout to support a right-to-left (RTL) directional display for the Arabic language or locally adapting numeric formats such as currency or time. This strategizing is done in consultation with our clients during the project planning stage. For most localization projects, a translation glossary and TM is a necessary step. In collaboration with the localization team, graphic designers and desktop publishing (DTP) engineers produce localized visual content. During the localization phase, content is then fine-tuned with SEO or ASO. Once the translation and localization phases are both complete, QA specialists conduct thorough testing and rigorous evaluation.

          translated languages

We offer translations in English and Arabic as source and target languages. In addition to Modern Standard Arabic for textual translations, our translators—all of whom are native to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region—specialize in the following local dialects for all types of translations:

    1. Levant region: Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria
    2. Gulf region: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
    3. North Africa region: Egypt, Libya, Morocco



To ensure a more cost-effective, efficient delivery of our services, we integrate industry standard computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools into our workflow. In conjunction with our in-house reference materials, CAT tools are used to establish coherence and consistency within and between teams assigned to a specific project. CAT tools used by e-Arabization include:

    1. Translation software: TRADOS, TRADOS, SDL
    2. Translation memory software: WordFast, OmegaT
    3. Localization software: Swordfish, Passolo



With over fifteen years of experience in the subtitling field, e-Arabization’s project managers are more than capable of directing and overseeing the Arabic subtitling process of videos of any genre or subject. In addition, our subtitlers collectively represent a diverse range of countries and localities in the MENA region. We work with industry-standard subtitling process, such as PolyScript, EZTitles, and Wincaps, but we are more than happy to work with a client’s preferred software request.

Our transcription service involves transcribing spoken Arabic of any local dialect into a professionally typed transcript. We can also provide time-coded transcripts for videos of any format. We work with almost any video and audio format, including but not limited to micro and standard audiocassettes, mini discs, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray.

For clients who require translations of audio files in any multimedia format, e-Arabization offers a translation service, as part of a package deal with our transcription service. Our translation team is capable of handling English and Arabic as source and target languages, in addition to offering Arabic localization services. Translations of transcribed audio are then completed in Modern Standard Arabic unless specified otherwise.


First impressions are important, and aesthetic design plays a crucial role in shaping our first impressions of products or services. This in turn affects the perceived trustworthiness or reliability of a brand or an organization. A poorly designed and inadequately localized material, however high quality in its educational or informational value, can put off a reader at glance. e-Arabization’s graphic designers and DTP engineers understand the importance of a visually appealing and appropriately localized design of an informational flyer or promotional brochure. Based on that understanding, they can make a difference to the reach of a brand or an organization.

Our DTP services include but are not limited to localizing visual content such as graphics or images, producing right-to-left (RTL) or left-to-right (LTR) page layouts, and managing typesetting. As with our localization services, DTP services incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) into visual content when applicable. e-Arabization’s graphic designers and DTP engineers use the following tools to assist them with their tasks and speed up the overall process:

    1. Microsoft Office suite: Visio, Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc.
    2. Graphics and layout design: Adobe In-Design, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXpress, QuickSilver (Interleaf)
    3. Web design and markup: HTML, XML



QA checks are integrated into our translation and localization, multimedia subtitling and transcription, DTP, and copywriting processes. Alternatively, e-Arabization also offers QA services as a stand-alone service for third-party localized products or services. These checks can take place at any time of each process, as such they are meant to simulate user experience of a localized product. Our QA specialists efficiently collaborate with teams from other departments assigned to the same project, ensuring the creation of a feedback loop, thereby guaranteeing a highly refined finished product. These checks, which are fairly comprehensive, fall into one of the three categories: functional testing, visual design review, and content editing.

  1. Functional testing: By definition, functionality tests are meant to verify actions of a code or features of a user interface. Depending on the localized product or service, test engineers also implement a variety of non-functional dynamic tests, as non-functionality issues frequently intersect with functionality issues. Common non-functional tests include but are not limited to usability, compatibility, integration, performance, and localization.
  2. Visual design review: Visual design review focuses on eliciting a desired emotional and psychological response from users or readers. Visual design specialists evaluate the overall ‘look and feel’ of a localized product or service as well as its aesthetic elements, including color, images, and symbols. This assessment is made with careful consideration and respect to the locale of the target audience, as well as standard visual design criteria such as layout, size, placement, legibility, consistency, and the ratio of information density to white space.
  3. Content editing: Editors proofread for linguistic form, meaning, and context in addition to supplementary images and other multimedia; correct grammar mistakes; look out for un-translated or peculiar words, phrases, or strings; and evaluate localization issues, specifically in relation to the way the target market or audience is likely to receive x or y content.


CAT tools are used to assist the tasks performed by our QA specialists. Depending on their area of specialty, they are adept at handling the CAT tools and other software programs used by other departmental teams. In addition, they rely on and tirelessly update in-house tools developed as a result of over fifteen years of experience. e-Arabization’s in-house QA tools consist of reference materials, our QA specialists prepare for our translating and localization teams:

  1. glossary: A translation glossary is a reference of agreed upon translations of source language terminology and phrases. In addition to having developed in-house glossaries tailored by sector or client, we also rely on third-party industry standard English-Arabic dictionaries, thesaurus, and glossaries.
  2. style guide: A style guide lays down general guidelines for the tone and presentation of translated content, which allows translators and localizers to maintain a consistent voice and formatting for a project. Similar to translation glossaries, multiple style guides have been developed depending on the sector or client.
  3. translation memory: A translation memory (TM) is a database which stores, retrieves, and pairs up source text—either by term, phrase, or passage—with multiple ‘translation candidates’. Translation candidates are inputted, updated, and maintained by our translating and localization teams during the process, with edits or spot translations performed by QA specialists. Customized for each project, TMs can be prepared and developed for a client’s future use upon request. Industry standard TM managers are used, but our teams are capable of handling our client’s own TM manager.



Copywriting is more than a snappy sales pitch; it tells a story that captures attention, engages the senses, and compels a powerful emotional response. Moreover, the story must be driven by strategic goals, raise brand awareness, and deliver new leads in target markets.

With over fifteen years of experience, our copywriters have navigated plenty of brands and organizations through the MENA markets. We take our clients’ marketing materials, whether they had their run in other markets or still remain in the brainstorming process, and spin these ideas into copywriting gold. Brochures, website copywriting, content marketing, SEO, branding, advertising campaigns, strategizing… our copywriters can handle anything our clients demand.

Finding these reassurances too vague? Give e-Arabization a call or drop us an email; we would be more than happy to walk our clients through a prospective copywriting project, discuss case studies, and toss in a free quote upon request.