Wikipedia meets audio storytelling through new Arabic podcast series

The Wikimedia Foundation is excited to announce a new podcast collaboration with Sowt to bring Wikipedia and free knowledge to Arabic-speaking audiences across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The collaboration is part of  our commitment to knowledge equity and of  sharing free and accessible knowledge with everyone, everywhere. 

This partnership focuses on a mutual vision, to share knowledge with the world through high-quality, narrative-driven audio content that explains the history, context, and relevance of specific topics, while building greater awareness, understanding, and affinity for Wikipedia across the region.

More about Sowt and Manbet

Sowt is a fast-growing regional independent podcast network based in Amman, Jordan. Sowt also means ‘voice’ or ‘sound’ in Arabic. Sowt will produce a new podcast season of Manbet. Hosted and written by veteran content creator Bisher Najjar, the educational podcast explores various topics from the fields of humanities and society.

The first episode of Manbet published in October 2020, was followed by 3 seasons with topics ranging from exploring the history of passports and the birth of Arab feminism to the fashion revolution, among many others. Sowt has many other shows like Eib and Domtak which have been featured in international media and have topped the iTunes charts for the MENA region.

With direct collaboration and support from the Foundation’s Communications Department, Sowt will produce 10 episodes as part of the 4th podcast season of Manbet. 

About the new season and importance to free knowledge

The podcast scene across the MENA region has been growing for years with more and more listeners tuning in. With podcast penetration exceeding 18% in the region, the Arabic language is well-positioned for audio content with over 400 million speakers globally. Podcast audiences find that audio content is more trustworthy and more intimate than other forms of media as well as the free-to-access nature of some platforms.

This partnership will utilize the strengths of Sowt’s storytelling to reach listeners, narrate an informative story in an entertaining way with accurate information and knowledge, while at the same time increasing awareness and adherence to Wikimedia’s core beliefs of promoting free and accessible knowledge for all. Each episode dives deep into a singular topic, explaining its history, context and importance. 

This partnership furthers Wikipedia’s status as a living, trustworthy, useful, international, and free knowledge platform. It also underlines our commitment to inclusivity and our support of independent organisations that use technology to increase reach and impact in more places globally. This is the first partnership of its kind for the Wikimedia Foundation focusing on Arabic podcasts in the MENA region. 

What’s next! 

The power of digital audio storytelling and the importance of open knowledge are perfectly aligned with this project, and we aim to reach more Arabic-speaking audiences all over the world. Starting 19 April, tune in to the new season of Manbet to uncover topics such as Sufism, the life of Native Americans, the history of Yemen, the story of Nollywood, and humans’ ancient dream of flying.