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CMIC Moving Forward

“Foster an environment of innovation in the Arab region that leverages local talent and collaborative research.” Our mission at CMIC is to foster an environment of innovation in the Arab region that leverages local talent and collaborative research to incubate and develop strategic technologies that enable novel local experiences and pave the way for Microsoft opportunities. We measure our success by tracking the impact of our research and incubations both on Microsoft's products and on the people in the Arab region. We strive to provide the people in our region with technologies that enable them to fully utilize the computers and the Internet to fulfill their personal and business needs. To accomplish these objectives, we have zoomed in on three key R&D areas that have the highest potential of impacting the region: Natural Language Processing (NLP), Digital Content Services (DCS), and Mobile Multimedia. These areas have also been picked due to the high potential of transferring our R & D in these areas into real Microsoft products.

Our work in the NLP domain has been widely recognized. Our research on transliteration has generated significant contributions to Microsoft's Machine Translation technologies (translate.bing.com). The same work has also been released to the public as Maren, a Romanized Arabic Transliterator (www.getmaren.com).

On the DCS front, our team is leading the effort to enable Microsoft's Decision Engine, Bing (www.bing.com) in the Arab Region. Our efforts include solving issues that are specific to Arabic search and monitoring and enhancing the quality of the Arabic index.

We recognize that the number of Mobile users is up to four times the number of Internet users in some Arab countries and most of them are mobile-only users. To serve this large audience, we have enabled native Arabic support on Windows Mobile and are exploring technologies and scenarios that will provide unprecedented multimedia experiences to the mobile users.

Moving forward, our path to scale and to maximize our impact on the region and on Microsoft's products depends largely on our ability to build successful partnerships, both internally and externally. Internally, we look forward to growing the relationships which we have built with specific product groups over the past few years into committed long-term partnerships. Externally, we look for partnerships with major publishers and content providers as key to reaching a wider audience. We will be providing innovative and differentiating technologies to these partners that will improve the experiences of their audience.

Lastly, we recognize the pervasiveness of social networking in our region and its positive effect on technology adoption throughout many different segments of the Arab societies. We have already kicked off projects to organize and analyze social content in order to understand the local interests and usage patterns. This is merely a first step on our roadmap with the ultimate goal being for CMIC to offer enabling technologies that facilitate the creation, organization, and consumption of regionally-focused social applications and content.

By: Hussein Salama, Director of Microsoft Innovation Lab

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