Grants:Conference/Wikimedia MA User Group/WikiArabia 2019 Conference/Report

Report accepted
This report for a Conference Grant approved in FY 2018-19 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.

WikiArabia 2019 Report

This page presents the 2019 edition of the WikiArabia conference in terms of organisation, goals, achievements and outcomes.


Based on the model of WikiCon, WikiArabia is both a regional and thematic conference, bringing together contributors from the North Africa and Middle East region and bearing an interest for projects in Arabic, while ensuring the representativeness of the cultural and linguistic diversities within of the region.

Until 2019, three editions were previously held respectively in Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt. The edition of Marrakesh, in Morocco constitutes a new occasion of gathering for the community.


Initially scheduled in Tarfaya in April 2019, the fourth edition of WikiArabia finally took place in Marrakesh between the 4th and 6th October 2019, after 15 months of preparation and coordination.


• A core team of three people in charge of the logistical organization of the conference and general supervision,
• Ten Wikimedian volunteers gathered in three committees (scholarship, program and communication committees),
• And several people intervened throughout the development of the project to enrich it with their experiences.

October 2018
October–November[1] 20 December January−
September 2019
4−6 October
Grant application Call for application and submission Notification of scholarship recipients Preparation WikiArabia

Key figures

coming from abroad


Diversity of participants

The 4th WikiArabia brought together 79 participants, including a large proportion of women (31%) and contributors coming from global south outside Morocco (40%)[2]. Two audiences usually underrepresented in Wikimedia projects. All the participants came from 22 different countries.

The high number of foreign participants was reached thanks in particular to a large offer of scholarships offered by the Wikimedia Foundation and Google.

Financial report
Financial partners

In order to make the event a success, we called on several financial partners; to the traditional supporter inside the Wikimedia movement, the Wikimedia Foundation, which granted us a total of 720,000 MAD (88% of the total share). We also counted on the support of an external partner, namely Google MENA, which contributed with the amount of 100 000 MAD (12% of the total share).

Expenses, excluding scholarship (left) and total expenses (left)

Excluding scholarships, the event cost 258,100 Moroccan dirhams, more or less equally distributed between the material and goodies, communication, refuds and the social event. Almost 581,000 Moroccan dirhams were spent on the scholarships.

In fact, the balance between expenses and revenues is negative as we paid extra.

Detailed expenses
Nr. Item description Quantity Cost in MAD Comments
1. Scholarships 580 727
1.1 Flights 35 ppl 265 907
1.2 Hotel 80 ppl 268 820 All-inclusive (including Meeting Rooms, conference rooms and coffee break)
1.3 Local Transportation 46 000 Airport Pickup - Commuting Mini buses - Social Event - Gala Dinner
2. Material and goodies 55 000
2.1 Prints 110 55 000 Rollup - Badges - Banderol - Booklets - Tot bags
3. Communication 54 000
3.1 Design 14 6 000 Rollup - Badges - Banderol - Booklets - Tot bags
3.2 Videos and Photos 48 000 Done by professional photographing company (Teaser - Day to Day videos/photos - montage and editing)
4. Refuds 51 250
4.1 Refunds 51 250 Refunds for various expenses from participants (Visa - Local flight tickets - etc.)
5. Social event 44 700
5.1 Social event activity Full pack 100 40 000 Food and Beverage - Music Groups - Hand Craft Workshops
5.2 Gala Dinner 4 700
6. Logistics 10 850
6.1 Logistics expenses 8 000 Printer - Small items (HDMI adapter, different plugs and adapters)
6.2 Remote Controls 4 850 Laser clickers for smooth PPT presentations
6.3 Hotel Security Guards 2 000
VAT included (in MAD)
838 827


Local languages : The WikiArabia conference having as theme Wikimedia and the local communities made it possible to cover extensively the subjects related to local languages.

Discussing the use of dialectal Arabic in Wikimedia's educational programs, as well as the vulgarization of sciences in this language.

The issue of the presence of the Amazigh language on the internet was also raised, as despite the fact that it is widely spoken in North African countries, it still remains under-represented online, especially on Wikimedia projects. A learning workshop of the Amazigh alphabet, Tifinagh, also took place.

Finally was discussed the question of capturing oral knowledge, and was presented the Lingua Libre tool allowing the preservation of the oral heritage through the vocal recording of linguistic varieties.

Arabic Wikipedia : The sessions devoted to the Arabic-speaking version of Wikipedia, which attracts many visitors and contributors, have specifically covered projects that are developed within it, including WikiMed and Feminism.

Perspectives were shared to contribute to the improvement of the project, in particular through research to help contributors with innovative means, as well as through programming to facilitate the editing.

This gathering was also an opportunity to discuss with the administrators about the policies and to tackle subjects that are debated within the community.

Sister and similar projects : Along with Arabic Wikipedia, other sister and similar projects also received their share of attention. Indeed, a general overview of the state of Arabic Wikimedia projects in 2019 allowed to have a global vision on the current situation of each projet.

The Wikipedia Zero program was scrutinized between retrospection with the sharing of experiences and prospecting its future. On the other hand, the new Wikimedia Space platform was presented to the attendees highlighting its functionalities.

The Wiki Loves Monuments photo competition was also presented, as well as the Creative Commons and its licenses which are closely linked to the functioning of the contests and Wikimedia Commons in general.

The voluntary initiatives of WikiMOOC and WikiKsour have been discussed and reviewed by the attendees, as well as the Kiwix project offering offline access to Wikimedia projects.

Finally, a 4-hour WikiGap workshop was devoted to improving the female content.

Community and diversity : This track covered the value of knowledge in terms of equity and spatial justice, and its importance in times of crises.

A panel of representatives of user groups present in the MENA region made it possible to share experiences and ideas, adding to it a session during which the Canarian neighbors did the same by presenting their activities.

Capacity building sessions for the benefit of the communities were held as part of this track, including skills and technical capacities building.

Cross-community programs have also been reported as essential for improving local versions of Wikipedia, which is precisely what the Dadd initiative is trying to achieve within the Arabic version.

Education remains also an important axis within Wikimedia, both at the level of the foundation and the volunteers through the Wikimedia Education Program in universities.

GLAM and partnerships : The track started with a plenary session on the partnership between Google and Wikimedia addressing the importance of the current and future projects. Then, a sharing of experiences from GLAM projects in Tunisia took place, followed by a discussion around these projects at regional level.

Was also presented the success story of the Nigerian community that made from the partnership a springboard to develop.

Tech : Technical sessions dedicated to the Wikidata project were held, in particular two workshops, one introducing the project and its tools, and the other devoted to the use of structured data on Commons. Adding to them, a session introducing how to support Wikipedia through Wikidata.

Several tools were also presented, including the Content translation tool which assists communities through translation, as well as the use of IFTTT tool in Wikimedia projects.

Account security issue was also addressed during this track.

Other achievements
Post-Conference Survey

Number of Participants: 44 (56% of total participants)

Organizers Availability
100.00 %
General Organization
98.00 %
Chosen Thematics
98.00 %
General Atmosphere
95.00 %
Social Event
95.00 %
Quality of Speakers
95.00 %
Conference Rooms and Venue
95.00 %
Program Design
91.00 %
Social Media Communications
91.00 %
80.00 %
75.00 %
Participants satisfied overall by the conference: 100%
(By satisfied we mean the participant gave a final grade superior to 15/20)
Main takeouts for the participants
Meet new people
98.00 %
89.00 %
Discover New Areas to Contribute
66.00 %
Discover Moroccan Culture
57.00 %
Discover Wikimedia Movement and Projects
52.00 %
Develop Technical Skills
41.00 %

To facilitate participants' stay, a booklet (also called conference guide) has been slipped into the participant's tote bag. The guide, prepared in two languages English and Arabic, contains a lot of practical information (tips for preparing the stay, conference program, important telephone numbers, useful addresses, etc.).

Participants interviews

Short interviews were taken with the participants in order to share their experiences as well as their impressions and expectations on the conference.

Filming sessions

With the aim of documenting the conference program, sessions were filmed and uploaded on Wikimedia Commons, so that people who were unable to attend could also learn from them.

presentation videos

Wiki-spirit Social event

The social event took place outside Marrakesh in order to discover the Berber aspect of the country. A local musical group animated the event, in parallel with a series of workshops to learn manual skills including the weaving of artisanal carpets and pottery. A scavenger hunt was also organized around the village which allowed to have interactions with the local population.

Target outcome Achieved outcome Explanation
Total of 80 Participants 79 Participants At least 10 participants were unable to attend due to Visa issues, which were outside of our control.
Record and share all WikiArabia sessions Online 80% of the sessions were recorded and shared on Commons and YouTube The photography company had technical issues preventing it from preparing all the required videos. Nonetheless, WikiArabia 2019, and even if not reaching 100% sessions filmed, remains and by far the most documented WikiArabia session in terms of video.
Empower Female participants in the region 31% of female participation.
Organization of WikiGap event at WikiArabia.
Develop new skills for the participants 66% discovered new areas to contribute.
41% developed new technical skills.
Enhance networking and partnership opportunities for the Arabic-speaking Wikimedians 98% met new people.
89% networked during the event.
Creation and announcement of the Arabic council Arabic council created.
Developement of Wikimedia Morocco User Group Wikimedia MA UG went on a restructuration after the event, with a professional way of working. Members go through an approval system
Roles and responsibilities clearly defined

Next steps
Activities during the conference 2 months after the conference 6 months after the conference
Strategic Discussions:

Feedback and implementation of the 2030 Strategy.

Strategy plenary session.
Partnerships dedicated dessions
Official start of the Arabic Council Final strategy recommendations with valuable input from WikiArabia participants.
Capacity Development:

Capacity building and workshop sessions

4 Workshops and 7 Capacity building sessions offered during the conference Survey: 41% of participants developed new technical skills.
Projects and Working Groups Networking and collaboration Creation of the Arab Wikimedians Committee.
Establishment of the Levant-Algeria Cultural Exchange Program.
Development of WikiKsour.
Annoucement of a GLAM-dedicated Arab conference (AraPedia 2020).
Creation of Wikimedians of UAE User Group.
Preparation of the next edition of WikiArabia.

Learned lessons

Our main learnings from organising WikiArabia in Marrakesh, that may help the 2020 Algerian team, were the following:

1. Visa

Try to start the process as early as possible. Some documents take a long time to be ready, so please work on them early.

2. Be quick with funding

We wanted to have simultaneous translation in the conference (Arabic/English) and were close to that goal, but having the obligation to pay in cash made it impossible as the funds came to us later. Funds take an incredible amount of time to reach the affiliates, so ask for them as early as you can, and do not relax if you hear sentences such as “it will be solved soon, do not worry”, keep on pushing until you make sure they will be there early.

3. Participation during the sessions

One of the few negative points that we had in Marrakesh conference were that many participants did not “show up” at the session. We do not know the reason (if the sessions were uninteresting, if we had to bring them by force, if there were too many sessions in parallel), but we suggest you to think about this area and make sure to tackle it (maybe by having fewer sessions in parallel, a hotel isolated from city center, volunteers having the specific task to gather participants before the sessions, etc.)

4. Try to have a large team, but working in harmony

In Marrakesh, we had a small core team (we were 3 main organizers), and we did it deliberately to avoid a large team, usually synonymous of bureaucracy, conflits and slow work. It is true that we were efficient, but we had to work an incredible amount of time to reach these results. We do not think that it is a sustainable solution. Have a bigger team, delegate some simple tasks, and try to have volunteers (for logistics) involved from the beginning so that it is simpler to work with them when the conference is there.

5. Prepare the conference in detail as early as possible

Even details such as printer, a printed program or the list of participants should be ready much earlier than the conference, because things keep on popping up and you will need to be there for emergencies, so make the detailed planning early before the conference to have time for emergencies later.

6. Ask for support

In 2020, there will be an operational Arab council, and (potentially) a WMF staff working with the MENA region. This person shall help you in the organization of the conference. A conference of the size of WikiArabia is a miracle to be done only by volunteers, so having staff helping in it is a necessity for the years to come, especially if this person can use it as a learning experience, and use the same tools with the teams of the coming years.


  1. From 22 October to 15 November for scholarships, and from 22 October to 30 November for submissions
  2. Algeria, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Palestine and Tunisia