Guest blog: Native Arabic language support in

After partially-converting to Ubuntu (I’m still dual booting) and fiddling with MS alternatives, one of the first things that got me frustrated was the lack of immediate native Arabic language support in the word processor or the spreadsheet applications under the suit. Granted, the latter recognizes Arabic characters and renders right-to-left documents and spreadsheets of existing files, but what about creating new ones?

Native support means that not only is the user able to type in Arabic, which is straight-forward, but also to be able to type from right-to-left for the characters alignments are in tune. (Example: try to type in the text editor of Gmail in Arabic, you will be able to type but if you place a full-stop or any other ASCII character, it will revert back to left-to-right and only the “arabic” portions of the entered text will be written from right-to-left).

If you take a look at the toolbar, you’ll find that part of the hidden icons that enables you to toggle from left-to-right and vice versa, but they’re disabled. Same goes to the spreadsheet application where under Format -> Sheet -> Right-to-Left which is also disabled. Along with the presentation utility.

What you need to do is from each application, you go to Tools -> Options -> Language Settings -> Languages. From there make sure you enable CTL (Complex Text Language) by checking the box below, and then selecting one of the choices of Arabic in the middle section of the screen as shown in the screen capture.

Repeat action in each of the three applications.

Enjoy in Arabic…

Basem Aggad (

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  1. Nice!
    BTW, doesn’t your first name mean ‘grandfather’ in Arabic?

  2. Filmm
    Thanks and no it doesn’t mean grandfather but Generous and/or Serious. 🙂

  3. That was driving me nuts, I was sure I’ve done it before but in no way I could find how. I was waiting for the upcoming version to see if things will be easier. Not anymore 🙂 thanks for that

  4. This is exactly what I was looking for , I have been using
    Arabic to English Dictionary

  5. I’ve being studying Arabic for a few years now and I can testify to the great importance of knowing the language as a mean to understand the society and culture of these peoples.

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