Middle East
14 Jan 2019

Middle East nature fans welcome world’s first Arabic language birding app

Blue Cheeked Bee Eater
Blue Cheeked Bee Eater ©AbdulRahman A O Alenezi
By Dima Obeidat

The world’s first Arabic birding app, launched by the Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME), has been met with widespread excitement from nature enthusiasts in the region.  Thousands of people around the region have already downloaded the free app, which features pictures, descriptions of behaviour and samples of bird song. 

The Middle East is home to a wide variety of birdlife, including the unmistakable greater flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus and several owl species, including the recently discovered Omani owl Strix butleri. The region also hosts a number of endemic species – birds which are not found anywhere else in the world – such as the Socotra cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis and the Arabian golden-winged grosbeak Rhynchostruthus percivali.  As a result, thousands of bird enthusiasts flock here every year, seeking out the area’s rich and unique fauna.

Avid birder, AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan, who translated the app from English into Arabic, was one of the first to download it.  He thinks the app is a great resource for the region’s birders. ‘’For the first time ever, Arabic speakers will be able to access information about the birds of our region through their smartphone. It’s a complete field guide in your pocket, giving you easy access to information about the many beautiful birds we have in the Middle East.’’

The creation of the app has been made possible through donations received from the charity’s members, individual donors and HSBC Bank Middle East.  Their Regional Head of Sustainability (MENAT), Sabrin Rahman commented ‘’HSBC are pleased to have supported the development of this important tool for all to understand and appreciate the diversity of birdlife in this region. We have been proud supporters of biodiversity and conservation and we strongly believe that the first step to achieve this is through education.’’

Promoting the region as a nature destination and supporting education is a key aim for OSME according to Chairman, Dr Robert Sheldon, ‘’We want this app to be a tool that inspires a new generation of birdwatchers. 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”.


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