As you’re learning Arabic writing, you likely haven’t given much thought to typing using the Arabic keyboard. However, you really should. It could come in very handy if you’re looking for a career in the Middle East; for instance, you may have to type emails and such in Arabic. Or perhaps you’re a student planning to study at a Middle Eastern university. Some of your teachers just might make it mandatory to write your essays in Arabic. If that’s the case, learning to type using the Arabic keyboard is something to think about.

What is the Arabic Keyboard?

Known in Arabic as lawḥat al-mafātīḥ al-`Arabīyyah, the Arabic keyboard is, of course, used for typing in the Arabic language. All PCs with an Arabic keyboard uses both Arabic letters and Latin letters. (Arab writers need Latin letters for typing in URLs and e-mail addresses.) Much like Arabs write from right to left, when you type using an Arabic keyboard, the letters will start appearing on the right side of the screen.

Invented by an Artist

The man who invented the first Arabic typewriter keyboard was also a very well-known Syrian artist named Selim Shibli Haddad. In January 1915, Haddad had at first designed his keyboard to fit the New Century typewriter. However, since he used a Monarch typewriter at his Cairo agency, he would later adapt his keyboard to that model.

There are some who insist that Haddad had help creating his keyboard from a fellow named Philip Wakid. However, both US patents and an interview with Haddad in 1904 say it was his idea alone. Nevertheless, Haddad got a US patent for his keyboard in 1899.

Haddad’s New York Times interview took place in August 1904 when Haddad was in the US promoting his Arabic keyboard typewriter. In fact, during his tour, America did, indeed, agree to produce typewriters for Syria. He later returned to Washington, D.C. to present the Turkish Sultan with an Arabic typewriter. He also presented one to the Khedive of Egypt.

From Typewriter to Computer

With computers taking the place of typewriters near the start of the new millennia, the Arabic keyboard made the move as well. These days, you’ll even find that most Arabs type efficiently using both the Arabic and the Latin keyboards. They are often one in the same with the user being able to change from one to the other with just a tap of a few keys on every Arabic keyboard.

If you would like to start typing using an Arabic keyboard, there are several websites that have the Arabic keyboard online. You can also use these online guides as a template for placing Arabic keyboard stickers on your own keyboard if one can’t be found where you live. Also, you can download an Arabic keyboard app and start using it to text your Arab friends on social media.

If you would like to learn Arabic so you can type it, however, head over to our website. Once you’re there, download the Kaleela Arabic learning app and start speaking (and writing) Arabic today! Start with the Arabic alphabet and work your way up to the Arabic dialects. The next thing you know, you’ll be sending us an email in Arabic from your office in Cairo thanking us for helping you learn Arabic in no time at all.

Kaleela – Learn Arabic the Right Way!