Translation Platform Tarjama Raises US$5 Million In Series A Round

It paves the way for the launch for their specialized Arabic machine translation engine, which will utilize AI and other tech products.

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By Pamella de Leon

Nour Alhassan, founder and CEO, Tarjama

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The race for Arabic-focused tools is on. Tarjama, UAE-based language service provider, has raised US$5 million in a Series A round led by KSA's Anova Investments.

Launched in 2008 by founder and CEO Nour Alhassan, Tarjama is a language service provider with presence in eight countries that has translated over 500 million words so far. It offers translation services in more than 150 languages, with over 130 full-time translation specialists and experts in its offices in the UAE, KSA, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and United States. It also owns and operates the Ureed platform, a regional online marketplace for translation and content services to connect freelancers with startups, SMEs and businesses.

According to a statement, the capital infusion will be used by Tarjama to scale up its business operations, as well as to further boost its tech platforms. It also paves the way for the launch for Tarjama's specialized Arabic machine translation engine, which will utilize AI and other tech products. On what prompted the startup to launch this particular feature, Zaid Abulfealat, COO, Tarjama, comments the decision was motivated on having the right elements: being an entity that translates in technical domains, having the required amount of data and an exceptional tech team utilizing the latest natural language processing tech to build a machine translation engine, "which we believe will [add] substantial value to our clients by enabling us to deliver certain tasks with substantially higher speed and efficiency."

With the launch of such a feature, one can question its effect on Tarjama's translation specialists and overall workforce. While it can be as a negative outcome in most scenarios, Abulfealat assures of its efficiency. "In the case of our domain specific machine translation extracted from high-quality and audited data, the results we're anticipating are higher productivity, quality, and consistency for our workforce. The only major impact we're expecting is the ability to scale our capacities and expedite our speed of delivery."

Discussing the new capital and partnership, Alhassan is keen on its impact for the platform's offerings and tech platforms, saying, "The strategic partnership with Anova will further strengthen Tarjama's ability to expand and support its offerings in all markets, especially in the Saudi market." Abulfealat also notes their investor's in-depth market understanding, business connections and willingness to be involved in promoting the company and their services as major benefits from aligning with their partner. "We also see eye-to-eye on the direction and growth of the company, which I believe is critical when looking for the right investors."

Anova Investments' Executive Director, Nouf Aljeraiwi, says the platform's market value was a key attribute for the partnership: "Tarjama took the translation industry from a traditional business model to a highly advanced technologically driven platform featuring accuracy, speed and flexibility, all key ingredients in today's business environment. As Tarjama strengthens its presence in the Saudi market, Anova Investments will support this important phase to accelerate Tarjama's growth."

As for what's next for the platform, besides upcoming improvements to Ureed, additional new functionalities and tools to boost user experience and the launch of their machine translation engine, the startup has also noticed interest from foreign markets for content and translation services, so the team is looking into expanding their language offering to cover all common languages on Ureed. Plus, with a new CTO on board that comes with great experience in digital content, the technical team is also expanding. And of course, no doubt, with the backing of their new partner, they're looking into expanding business operations in KSA. "We're excited to innovate in the space of Arabic content and translation!"


Zaid Abulfealat, COO, Tarjama

What are the top three tips you wish you would have known as a startup pitching to investors?

  1. "Worry less about securing investment and focus on building a successful business. The right investors will come as a result.
  2. Having investors on board is a direct form of partnership. Make sure you're picking the right investors that align with your business type and objectives. Certain types of investment could lead startups to lose focus and stray away from their main goals, dropping long-term strategic business.
  3. Don't ask for more investment that you need. This is a common mistake that we see, make sure you don't get diluted early on."

In terms of AI, translation and producing Arabic content, how do you feel the industry has changed over the years?

"AI and machine learning have had, and will continue to have, an impact on the translation industry. Industry players and companies must now adapt and innovate. The quality of machine translation is expected to improve in the upcoming few years, and the roles of translators are expected to change to MTPE (Machine Translation Post-Editing) as a result of that. This is great news for businesses, because this would immediately mean faster deliveries, lower prices and higher quality in the future."

Related: Arabic Book Retail Platform Jamalon Raises Over US$10 Million In Its Ongoing Series B Round

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.

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