Dubai-Based WideBot's Chatbot Technology Picks Up On Arabic Dialects To Gain Larger Customer Inclusivity

WideBot has come up with a chatbot that incorporates the different dialects used in formal and informal Arabic, and it also claims to pick up on intangible linguistic factors such as sentiment and tone.

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"Hi! How can I help you?" This question is one that most internet users have probably been asked one too many times by a chatbot. What follows is a series of questions that are often very straightforward and deal with the product/service that is being offered on the website or platform. But what is typical of these online “conversations” is the obvious lack of human touch and interaction, which stems from a variety of factors that need to be fine-tuned in the chatbot’s software application.

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While it is true that machine learning has the potential to learn and decipher vast data on its own, it cannot always fully comprehend how different people phrase their queries or structure their sentences. For businesses, this could entail the potential loss of customers, because they either don’t receive the information they require, or they simply get disinterested. In the Arab world, chatbots have an additional handicap in that they often don’t take into account the nuances of the different dialects of Arabic used across the region.

To cater to this issue, Dubai-based tech startup WideBot has come up with a chatbot that incorporates the different dialects used in formal and informal Arabic. Notably, it also claims to pick up on intangible linguistic factors such as sentiment and tone. “WideBot is a B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that empowers businesses to build smart, artificial intelligence-enabled chatbots that speak both formal and informal Middle Eastern languages,” explains WideBot founder Mohammed Nabil. “Our intelligent bots are spun up with zero lines of code in a few minutes. The WideBot platform has the most powerful artificial intelligence engine for Arabic dialects, trained by millions of annotated data.”

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Mohammed Nabil, founder, Widebot. Image source: Widebot

What this means is that, say, slangs that are used in day-to-day vernaculars, or jargon that are specific to a particular Arabic dialect or region, can be picked up by WideBot’s chatbot technology. According to Nabil, this has the potential of opening up new doors of opportunity for businesses in the region to offer better customer service and also attract new customers. “We help companies to grow faster by automating their operations and customer service,” he adds.

Having made the decision to base Widebot’s operations out of Dubai, Nabil believes that the location has since proved to play a vital role in the enterprise realizing its objectives and goals. “Dubai is the Silicon Valley for MENA startups,” he says. “The ecosystem is very promising and has a lot of flexibility, and we generated a lot of leads from governmental and enterprise sectors. The main challenge here is the cost of the expensive operations, but it will be handled after closing many deals.”

Nabil also points toward Widebot’s participation in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program as having been a shot in the arm for its operations in the region. “MBRIF is an amazing program!” he declares. “They gave us a lot of support in business growth, financial and legal. They also helped us to generate many leads, and access amazing perks and learning courses.”

And today, with more than 6,000 of the enterprise’s chatbots having served over 50 million end users since its launch, Widebot definitely seems to be on the right path when it comes to realizing its long-term goals. “We are in our growth stage, and we make 15% month-on-month growth,” Nabil reveals. “We just closed a bridge round for expansion across the GCC, and we have also started preparation for our Series A round for further growth across the region.” 

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Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

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Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Writer at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and is also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program. A self-proclaimed bibliophile, she has a penchant for chai, cricket, and all things BTS.