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30 September, 2013 Manama ,Kingdom of Bahrain
Gulf Air’s IT Team Develop Program to Analyze Arabic Social Media Sentiment Using the Latest IT Technology - Big Data

Gulf Air’s IT department have successfully harnessed Big Data, the latest development in the world of technology aimed at processing huge and complex volumes of online data, to create a  program to monitor and analyze Gulf Air’s online Arabic dialogue.  Taking nine months to develop and with much of the programming being done outside of working hours, the program, created by an all Bahraini team, analyses all online comments in Arabic that reference the airline. Subsequently, reports are sent to the airline’s customer facing teams allowing them to take appropriate action. This can range from a direct response to the comment or in some cases, elevation of an issue to the airline’s senior management. 

Created using open source Big Data solutions, the highlight of the pioneering program is its unique ability to handle the complexity of the Arabic language by factoring colloquial forms, including regional dialects and informal phrases, into the analysis.  

Gulf Air’s Director of IT Dr. Jassim Haji commented, “Big Data has been talked about in the media a lot, but very few companies have actually put it to use and realized tangible benefit; Gulf Air has successfully accomplished this. This is a great achievement for the airline by the all Bahraini development team, who invested a significant amount of their free time in the project. The skillset and knowhow required to develop such a program is highly specialized and to be able to do this in-house is rare. With such high levels of professional knowledge evident in the up-and-coming generation of Gulf Air employees, the future of the airline looks bright.”

Manager MIS and project leader of this initiative Mr. Mohamed AlMahmood commented, “The team in Gulf Air has managed to obtain the required skills for this project through self-learning and successfully harnessed internal knowledge to develop a complex program using the latest technology for the benefit of the national carrier and its passengers. In today’s modern internet economy our customers are increasingly using this platform to communicate which is why we decided to develop a program tracking feedback, thus facilitating more efficient two-way communication with our passengers and stakeholders.”

Following the successful implementation of the program, the next stage is now to explore a number of further applications for the use of Big Data in areas such as market and demand analysis to improve response to customers’ needs and demands. Recognizing Gulf Air as one of the first companies in the region to implement Big Data, the leading IT magazine in the region, CNME (Computer News Middle East), profiled the airline’s achievement earlier this year. Furthermore, Dr. Haji was invited to present this work to an audience of IT experts at the ‘Big Data Symposium’, a prestigious IT conference held in Dubai earlier this year.

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