HOC Blog

Talent drainage in Arabic localization: Causes and solutions

In this post, I will discuss the challenge of talent drainage and experience retention. This will be the second post in a series of posts about challenges facing Arabic Translation and Localization.


The Arabic translation industry suffers high “bounce rates”. By this, I mean the tendency linguists have to think of translation and localization as a source of extra income, not a career, as well as the high rates of linguists leaving the industry when offered a chance. On the other hand, practices adopted by many localization companies does not allow for proper experience building and continuous learning. This situation, that has been hindering the industry for decades, is the result of the accumulation of many different factors, namely:



  • Low payments and the lack of job security
  • Little penetration of translation technology
  • Lack of emphasis on training and continuous learning
  • Thw weak role of QA linguists
  • The "agency model"

The issues of job security and low payments will be addressed in an incoming post, as will the agency model issue. The rest of the above-mentioned factors are not only interrelated, but also directly linked to the financial aspect of the industry, making them harder to overcome. I can suggest a few guidelines that can help localization companies improve talent and experience retention, but these issues need to be addressed at the industry level through panel discussions, round table discussions, bulletins, and other forms of industry wide communication, as addressing them will require revamping the whole business model adopted by Arabic translation and localization companies. As a start, here are my recommendations:

  • Institutionalizing workflow: Avoiding the one-man show model and assigning more than one talent to each project. This helps distribute the experience.
  • Formalizing experience: Through creating and continuously updating glossaries, style guides, and resources.
  • Investing in translation technology, whether generic or company developed (We at House of Content use SDL Trados Studio).
  • Investing in training, and encouraging talents to share experience via workshops and follow up bulletins, newsletters, and other forms of communication.
  • Activating the QA role and adopting a 360° approach. This means that QA processes should not be uni-directional, with the single goal of assuring customer satisfaction, but bi-directional, with active feedback channels between all levels in the localization process.


Author is Dr. Ali Mohamad, House of Content Founder and Managing Director

House of Content is registered at Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC).

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