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Ground-breaking Arabic app brings birdwatching to a new generation

By Dima Obeidat

While bird lovers in the Middle East have been enjoying the perks of smartphone technology for a long time now, few apps have focused on the region’s birds, and none of them were in Arabic. Until now. Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia (OSME), the organisation behind the new Birds of the Middle East app, first explored the idea in March 2017, following the launch of the Arabic version of the book with the same title. Now, two years later, these plans have resulted in the first-ever Arabic language field guide app.

The app was launched yesterday for Apple devices during the Summit for Flywaysconference in Abu Dhabi, hosted by International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), and organised by BirdLife International, in association with EAD, OSME, Mava Foundation, and the UN Environment Programme’s Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

Rob Sheldon, Chairman of OSME, expressed his excitement over the first of its kind app, and stressed on its value for the Middle East region. “We want this app to be a tool that inspires a new generation of birdwatchers”, says Sheldon. “Birdwatching has always been associated with the older generations, and we need to encourage a new generation of bird enthusiasts that can carry on with conservation in the Middle East region”.

Richard Porter, former Middle East adviser to the international bird conservation charity, BirdLife International, who co-wrote the original “Birds of the Middle East” book with the late Simon Aspinall, the former chairman of the Emirates Bird Records Committee, praised the efforts of BirdLife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird (RSPB, BirdLife in the UK) for their support during the production phase. He also thanked NatureGuide for their phenomenal job in transferring the book into a user-friendly app, and all of OSME’s other partners who helped develop and fund it.

The app has many unique features that allow the user to explore birds through a simple and easy interface, whether according to their family or species, or by name. It also provides a map that indicates birds’ residences and breading locations. In addition, some of the species include an icon for bird calls to enable the user to use sound cues to aid identification. And the app will only continue to evolve: there is a plan in place to add video footage to provide Arabic speaking bird lovers with a multimedia platform offering a unique learning experience.

According to OSME, the Birds of the Middle East app is designed to reach a wide range of people. Therefore, it is completely free to download. Work is under progress to provide the app for Android users as well ¬– with an anticipated release by the end of May 2018.

To download the app & find information on different species of birds in the Middle-East, please visit this Page 

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