Kuwaiti Arabic-language computer pioneer Mohammed Al-Sharekh dies aged 82

Kuwaiti Arabic-language computer pioneer Mohammed Al-Sharekh dies aged 82
Mohammed Al-Sharekh, who pioneered Arabic language personal computing and software, has died aged 82 in Kuwait.
3 min read
07 March, 2024
Al-Sharekh helped pioneer Arabic language computer software and hardware [Getty]

Kuwaiti tech pioneer Mohammed Al-Sharekh, who pioneered the first-ever Arabic-language operating system (OS) for computers, passed away on Wednesday, aged 82.

Al-Sharekh was born in Kuwait City in 1942, and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science from Cairo University, followed by a Master’s Degree in Economic Development from Williams College in Massachusetts, where he developed an interest in information technology. 

In 1982, he founded the Sakhr Software Company, which emerged as a leader in research and development in Arabic-language processing.

With the computer boom of the 1980s in full swing, Al-Sharekh was determined not to let the Arab world miss out. His goal was to create native software programmes for the growing number of PC users in Arabic-speaking countries.

Al-Sharekh realised this goal with Sakhr MSX, a software programme for children in the Arab world, developed in partnership with the then mid-level, future Silicon Valley behemoth, Microsoft.

But this was just the beginning for Al-Sharekh and Sakhr, with the company going on to create multipurpose computer hardware, encompassing everything from word processors to first-generation game consoles.

Sakhr also developed a host of software features that were widely popular throughout the Arabic-speaking world in the 1980s.

These included a Quran programme, geographies of the Arab world, the first computerised Hajj and Umrah programmes, an Arab history programme, as well as multiple Arabic language games.

This built Sakhr into the biggest software and hardware brand in the Arab world, selling two million devices and five million software packages throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Al-Sharekh received numerous accolades for his pioneering work over the years.

In 2002, he won Arabian Business’s E-Visionary of the Year award, and in 1998 he received 'The Best Products' award at Comdex’s exhibition.

In 2021, he was the recipient of the prestigious King Faisal International Prize, which recognises outstanding service to Islamic studies, the Arabic language and literature, medicine and science.

Al-Sharekh also won the State Prize in 2018 from the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters in Kuwait; and received the World Summit Awards and the E-Inclusion Award in 2007.

Among those leading the tributes to Al-Sharekh was Kuwait’s National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters.

"The General Secretariat conveyed the condolences of His Excellency the Minister of Information and Culture, Chairman of the National Council for Culture, Arts, and Literature, Mr. Abdul Rahman Badah Al-Mutairi, and the leaders and employees of the Council to the family and loved ones of the deceased over this tragedy," they wrote on X.

Also paying tribute was Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

"My heartfelt condolences on the loss of Kuwaiti businessman Mohammed Al-Sharekh, a trailblazer in the Arab programming sector," he wrote on X.

“The inception of Sakhr Computer Company in 1982 heralded a technological revolution whose fruits we reap today."