Ground-breaking Arabic App brings birdwatching to a new generation
This impressive headline from Bird Life International Middle East followed the low key launch on Apple devices of our new Birds of the Middle East App at the Summit for Flyways in Abu Dhabi at the end of April.
The culmination of a year of solid effort, OSME has been proud to lead the project, raising the funds and working hand in hand with top App developers NatureGuides to see the project to fruition.
At the summit Dr Robert Sheldon, Chairman of OSME expressed his excitement over the first of its kind App and stressed its value for the Middle East region “ We want this app to be a tool that’s inspires a new generation of birdwatchers and bird lovers”, says Sheldon. “Birdwatching has always been associated with older generations and we need to encourage a new generation of bird enthusiasts that can carry on with conservation in the Middle East region”.
The App project was a natural progression following the launch of the Arabic version of Birds of the Middle East published in 2017. Richard Porter co author of the book with the late Simon Aspinall praised the efforts of BirdLife International and OSME at the launch welcoming this first Arabic language field guide App.
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 name. The names can be set in Arabic, English or Latin but everything else is in Arabic. There are maps , detailed text descriptions and calls and songs of the majority of species. The App will continue to evolve with more songs and calls to be added ( particularly for the Socotra endemics) and the future possibility of video footage to enhance this multimedia offering.
The App couldn’t have been created without the brilliant partnership with NatureGuides, Managing Director Fiona Barclay and her team have been so supportive:
“NatureGuides is proud to have been asked by OSME to produce the first Arabic language field guide app for birders. We hope that the app will help raise awareness and appreciation for the region’s wonderful avifauna and promote conservation. Getting our heads around a new language that reads right to left has been a fun challenge. We look forward to receiving feedback and are already working on updates. We envisage the Android version to be available in 4-6 weeks”
OSME would like to acknowledge the support of many significant funders who have seen this project as so important for education, awareness and conservation.
Without their considerable financial help none of this would have been possible:
HSBC Middle East Community Funds
British Birds Charitable Trust https://britishbirds.co.uk/about/british-birds-charitable-trust/
Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures rockjumperbirding.com
Bird Holidays Worldwide Birdwatching Holiday Specialists www.birdholidays.co.uk/
Sylvia and Jack Aspinall in memory of their son Simon.
Also many, supporters, members and friends of OSME in the Middle East and across the world.
Following the low key launch well over a thousand downloads occurred in the first couple of days, mostly in the Arabian Peninsula, a start that augurs well for the future.
The key for us is that this is an App designed to reach as wide a range of people as possible so it was always our plan that it must be absolutely free to download. The Apple version is available now, just search NatureGuides Ltd in the App store or follow this page link if you’re reading this on an iphone or ipad click here
The App for Android users is well under way and should be available by the end of May 2018.
Chris Hughes May 2018