“We’ve seen that this region is very important for Sweden in many ways, but that they have very little knowledge about Sweden,” Frida Roberts, Head of digital communication for sweden.se, told The Local.
“This is not just another language version of the site, it is locally adapted with everything from imagery, the content, and the technological aspects.”
The Swedish Institute (Svenska institutet), Sweden’s primary public diplomacy agency, initially launched the sweden.se website in 2002, choosing English as the default language.
The website offers advice on everything from what to do while visiting, to information about working in Sweden and housing.
Since the site was first launched, additional languages have been added, including Spanish, German, French, Russian, and Chinese.
And now sweden.se can also be viewed in Arabic.
In addition to general information about Sweden, the site also features selected news stories previously published on The Local and translated into Arabic.
“It’s exciting that news about Sweden can now be read by Arabic speakers around the world,” said The Local’s managing editor James Savage.
The Arabic version of the site, ar.sweden.se, is also designed with a few special technological considerations in mind.
“The availability of high speed Internet is a lot more limited in that region, so we’ve avoided the use of Java script and Flash media, for example,” Roberts said.
“It’s a design compromise where availability was prioritised.”
It has taken nearly two years to lay down the groundwork for the new website, including securing the necessary funding and conducting and thorough research of the target audience.
After a test launch of the site at Sweden’s embassy in Cairo on October 13th, the site was officially launched with a ceremony held on Wednesday at the Foreign Ministry attended by trade minister Ewa Björling and ambassadors from several Arabic speaking countries.
“The site is aimed largely towards a young audience which constitute an important part of the demographic profile in the region,” Björling said in a statement.
“Increased knowledge and mutual understanding are important steps on the road to dialogue and development.”