Startup Spotlight: UAE-Based Lisan's AI-Powered Proofreading Platform Guarantees Error-Free Arabic Writing The 12 products Alasadi alludes to aim to correct 12 specific types of errors, which include spelling, grammatical, morphological, semantic, and stylistic errors, as well as mistakes related to checking quotations and proper names.
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This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.
"Arabic is an incredibly complex language with a rich vocabulary and intricate grammar, and it is spoken by 467 million people, but most people are not able to use it without errors." That is how Noor Alasadi summarizes the need for his startup Lisan, an Arabic proofreading platform and integrated writing assistant. "There has not been any successful implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) infrastructure for Arabic, which has rendered machines incapable of comprehending it," Alasadi adds. "Hate speech, gender-biased language, and extremist content are very common on the web. But there was no awareness, as such, regarding that- whether it was in media, in books or in social media. We felt like we bear part of the responsibility to change that."
Born out of such keen observations, Lisan -which quite literally translates to "tongue" in Arabic- was launched in Dubai in 2021. "Lisan is an AI writing platform offering state-of-the-art proofreading and grammar checking to help individuals who write in Arabic to maximize their productivity, create exceptional content using cutting-edge generative AI models, and automate tasks with AI accelerators," Alasadi says. "It has 12 products, including a state-of-the-art spelling and grammar checker, generative AI models, text mining engines, social networking analysis, and optical character recognition systems for the Arabic language. Lisan is not a product; it is a path that seeks to dominate AI, content technology, and even the cybersecurity sectors in the MENA region."
The 12 products Alasadi alludes to aim to correct 12 specific types of errors, which include spelling, grammatical, morphological, semantic, and stylistic errors, as well as mistakes related to checking quotations and proper names. As per the Lisan team, these are some of the most commonly repeated types of mistakes, and the platform can detect them with a 98.6% accuracy rate. It is also important to highlight that Lisan's AI-driven model can also search and cite verses from religious texts such as the Holy Qur'an, as well as scientific and legal documents. "We are targeting the Arabic market and offering a unique product to help improve writing skills, but our platform also provides outstanding learning experiences and analytical tools," Alasadi adds.
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Lisan's services, therefore, have received interest not just from individuals looking to write better, but also from governmental entities and e-learning platforms. "For business-to-consumer users, we offer a freemium model," Alasadi explains. "However, for business-to-business and business-to-government customers, we have a shared-revenue business model with our partners, allowing us to profit as they benefit from and sell our products. We believe Lisan is currently the most comprehensive provider of artificial intelligence and natural language processing solutions in the MENA region!"
But it wasn't easy getting Lisan off the ground, at least in its early days. "Things were really hard at the beginning; Dubai, in general, is an expensive city," Alasadi recalls. "The biggest challenges of operating in the UAE have been the high costs in renting business premises, and the difficulty of finding and retaining qualified staff, as the employment market is quite competitive."
But despite such challenges, Alasadi and his team managed to navigate their way towards success. For one, their enrollment in the MBRIF accelerator program brought forth such much needed respite. "I chose the MBRIF, due to its comprehensive accelerator program, which provides an abundance of resources, connections, and mentorship," Alasadi says. "Furthermore, its amazing and supportive team has always been with us, no matter what hardships arise."
Things have now started looking up for Lisan- and it is this sense of optimism Alasadi will hope for his team to carry into the rest of 2023. "Everything really got exciting once we had a solid foundation, and customers started to respond to our products," he says. "It was also exciting to see others in the UAE showing support for our business, which made it easier to scale up and reach more customers. The biggest benefits of operating in the UAE are the numerous incentives and resources that have been put in place to help young entrepreneurs and startups get started, such as funding and tax exemptions."
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