Sakhr Software Acquires Dial Directions, Launches Spoken Arabic Translation via Mobile

1 Jul, 2009

Sakhr one of the oldest Arabic software companies, founded in 1982 has acquired Silicon Valley based startup, Dial Directions , a voice-activated phone service for driving directions.

I remember the first PC I used in my life was from Sakhr back in the late 80s, running its own property Arabic Operating system, where I used to play games. But during the 90s, Sakhr PC met the dust for Win-tel based PCs. However this announcement is significant because, I think it is the first time an Arab tech company acquires an American IT company (There are rumors of the other way around deals coming soon).

Today, Sakhr ( which competes with ARABCRUNCH DEMO 09 presenter Al-Khawarizmy in the Arabic search technology category) is specialized in Arabic and NLP software solutions selling basically to government and corporations, with products in the fields of: Speech to Speech Translation, Arabic/English Machine Translation (MT), Arabic/English Text to Speech, Arabic ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) Arabic enterprise &Internet search, Text Mining, Arabic OCR. Arabic CMS and (LMS.)

While Dial Directions enables users to dial a special number, ask for an address, business or event, and Dial Directions send an SMS with the address or an intersection. Dial Directions has also released an iPhone voice apps “ Say Who” and “Say where” .

The merger will bring together, Sakhr’s skills in Arabic language and Dial’s skills in network-based speech recognition technology and mobile applications expertise. Both companies have released a beta version of the first real-time speech-to-speech Arabic and English translations for iPhone and Black Berry (see Video below.)

The voice translation solution enables English and Arabic speakers to speak their native language, hear the audio translation, and read the text translation – all with an iPhone or Blackberry. According to TechCrunch the application is currently in testing with select enterprise customers, with plans to release a consumer version around the end of the summer. It appears that the voice will be translated on the cloud via Sakhr translation software, and then the translated input will be sent back to the phone in audio and text, with a matter of seconds. So if there is no Network there won’t be translations.

I do not know how accurate the translation will be, but for short sentences I think it will do fine, however I doubt it will do well in complex long sentences.

Sakhr already sells products to the U.S. departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, as well as to corporate clients. It provides Arabic and English translations for computers. Adeeb Shanaa, Dial’s co-founder and now CEO of privately held Sakhr Software, told Investor’s Business Daily that the technology will be used by to at least some U.S. military personnel serving in Arabic-speaking nations such as Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

According to Sakhr US press release, the merged firm will keep the Sakhr Software name, all Dial Directions employees have joined Sakhr. The combined company has 200 employees, and will be led by Shanaa as Chief Executive Officer. Fahad Al Sharekh, Sakhr’s previous chief executive, has become Chairman and remains actively involved in developing strategic partnerships for the company. Sakhr’s management team will be based in Silicon Valley and Washington, DC, with an offshore development office in the Middle East. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
( Via: Investor’s Business Daily, TechCrunch and Sakhr.)


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  1. Ashraf Mansoor  |  July 1st, 2009 at 12:18 PM #

    Really impressive stuff, been a fan of Sakhr since the early days. In linguistic and analytical applications, and Arabic solutions they simply rock.

  2. Sakhr Software Acquires Dial Directions, Launches Spoken Arabic … | Softdown.us  |  July 1st, 2009 at 10:44 PM #

    [...] post: Sakhr Software Acquires Dial Directions, Launches Spoken Arabic … Share and [...]

  3. Khalid  |  July 2nd, 2009 at 12:19 PM #

    This is really amazing technology. I really hope this application makes it to the field, in the war zones, where people need it desperately, it will be very helpful for communication. removing the language obstacles will make people more understanding and less trigger happy. This application will expedite the promotion of conflict resolution and global harmony!

  4. Sakhr Officially Launches Real-Time Speech-to-Speech English-Arabic Speech Translator App For The iPhone  |  September 22nd, 2009 at 7:58 PM #

    [...] Language Buddy™ for iPhone is launched after Sakhr’s acquisition of USA, Silicon Valley based startup, Dial Directions , a voice-activated phone service for driving [...]

  5. Sakhr Officially Launches Real-Time Speech-to-Speech English-Arabic Translator App For The iPhone - interactiveME  |  October 2nd, 2009 at 10:23 PM #

    [...] Language Buddy™ for iPhone is launched after Sakhr’s acquisition of USA, Silicon Valley based startup, Dial Directions , a voice-activated phone service for driving [...]

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