Through the end of October, Emirates Airline and Google are offering a deal for smartphone users in nine Arab countries, “up to 90 percent” off some 4,000 Arabic ebook titles in the Google Play Store:
The idea is to make Arabic books more accessible for first-time online book readers, as well as veteran book-lovers, with “discounts of up to 90 per cent off on online books at the Google Play Books store.”
Discounts are valid across nine countries in the Google Play Store, supported both in IOS and Android. These are: the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. According to Emirates 24/7, this is “the first discount of this scale in the region at the Google Play Store.”
It was unclear why other countries weren’t included, and also why Arabophone refugees or residents in Europe weren’t offered discounts.
In any case, for four weeks in October, Google will offer reportedly major discounts “on more than 4,000 popular fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles in an effort to reach millions of smartphone users in the Middle East and GCC.”
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airlines, said in a prepared statement that, “People are hungry for content, especially Arabic digital content, and there isn’t a smarter investment for the future of this region than providing access to e-books to broaden the horizons of millions.”
As part of this effort, the Emirates Literature Foundation helped identify and curate “a collection of over 50 Arabic books in the Google Play Books store that will be discounted at 90 per cent off.”
According to Emirates 24/7, “This curated book collection encompasses a wide variety of bestselling fiction and nonfiction titles such as Rua Falsafia Fel Hekam Wal Forousia and Tell You About My Tribe, as well as a robust list of children’s e-books like Creatures on the Ceiling, Altghrayib Al-Bilaliyah and I Love.”
However, there seemed to be disappointment with some of the children’s books, as one commenter wrote:
I was really excited with my discovery of google play and the amazing discounts on Arabic books. But when I downloaded this book I became extremely disappointed. First of all, the book is scanned backwards! honestly. Second, the spreads are separated, so the children cannot see the entire picture and are not able to follow the text with the image. Lastly, the sample was mostly useless blank pages. This seems automated and not at all monitored for quality by google. I am very, very disappointed.