According to Google Exec Gisel Hiscock’s Facebook status from yesterday, Google is about to announce a large investment in Palestine’s tech sector. This reportedly comes after months of courting with entrepreneurs and forward-thinking techies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Fostering growth in local business and partnering with Palestinians for workshops and other collaboration over the last two years indicate Google’s interest and commitment to bring economic stability to the tech industry in the region. Perhaps it is in this context that we should be considering the Arabic exclusivity of the new HTML5 Gmail web app.
Google recently launched a new version of the Gmail web app that provides support for 44 new languages. Oddly enough, visiting the site from one particular type of phone brings up an HTML5 version: phones running Android 2.2.1 or higher with Arabic as the default language. Changing your preferred language in any of the phone settings will not bring up the new app though, as HTCDev reports the lack of complete Arabic support in Android means you’ve got to flash a custom Arabic ROM to access the page.
Perhaps offering the Arabic world access to a hot new product is part of Google’s offert to bring recognition to Palestine as a new center of technical progress, and to demonstrate their (possibly by extension, America’s) commitment to the region. We should know a lot more after Gisel Hiscock and Hillary Clinton make their announcement.