Yousef Kazem
Yousef Kazem
Sahel working to release English version of app

KUWAIT: Acknowledging the challenges faced by non-Arab expatriates while accessing the Arabic-only unified government application Sahel, Yousef Kazem, the app’s official spokesperson, revealed to Kuwait Times plans for an upcoming English version release.

“We are certain that there is a large segment of society, especially non-Arabic speakers, who need to easily access the e-services directly through the application. As we respect their concerns, we are currently working on introducing the English version in upcoming updates,” Kazem stated, without giving a specific date for the release.

While the application’s main purpose is to facilitate government transactions for all members of society, it has greatly hindered non-Arab speakers from accessing essential services through the platform, according to the expats who shared their experience with Kuwait Times.

“I don’t see any difficulty in adding an English version to the application. In fact, we are the ones facing real difficulties dealing with the app,” said Abhishek, a 41-year-old Indian expatriate residing in Kuwait. Abhishek, who cannot speak, read or write Arabic, recounted that once, in order to complete just one transaction, he found himself taking screenshots of over 20 pages to translate them using Google Translate.

George, a 33-year-old Serbian expatriate, said completing government transactions in Kuwait has been extremely challenging for him, especially at facilities where employees don’t speak Arabic at all. He said despite the existence of the Sahel app, which is supposed to simplify procedures for everyone, he finds it an extra burden. “In order to renew my civil ID, driving license or visas for my wife and son, I literally have to take screenshots of the entire process and send them to my Arabic-speaking friends who translate them for me. It’s truly a hassle,” he added.

Natasha, another non-Arab expatriate, stated, “Sahel being available only in Arabic is seriously crippling.” She emphasized the necessity of adding an English option to the app, considering that most major government transactions are conducted through it and that Kuwait’s population includes a large number of non-Arabic speakers.

In response, the official spokesperson of the Sahel app acknowledged it is true the language barrier wasn’t taken into account at the beginning of the app’s release due to a lack of English language support in the official transactions themselves. However, over the past two years, the Sahel app team has been working on the translation process. Kazem added very soon they will prepare for the testing process of introducing the English language to the application.

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