One of the many challenges Saudi Aramco faced while implementing its SAP business systems integration project was Arabic-language support, a requirement critical to the project’s success.
Almost all of the company’s domestic sales are conducted in Arabic, and documentation such as sales tickets and invoices have to be printed in Arabic. Moreover, all financial reports submitted to the government must be in the national language.
SAP AG, the German company whose SAP R/3 client-server software keeps track of massive amounts of the company’s business data, supported several languages for its customers, but Arabic was not one of them. Customers had to go through several steps and interfaces with other software to print their documents in Arabic.
Saudi Aramco wanted direct Arabic support from SAP, so an innovative solution had to be introduced.
Saudi Aramco assigned the task to its Hydrocarbon Management (HCM) project team. Its first job was to identify Arabic requirements not supported by the standard SAP system. The next step was to pinpoint areas in the system that needed to be enhanced.
The team identified three major problems: SAP R/3 did not recognise Arabic characters in its system layers; SAP R/3 character manipulation was different from Arabic character manipulation – for example, the capital ’A’ in English has the same meaning as the small ’a,’ but characters are not capitalised in the Arabic language; and SAP R/3 text is typed and displayed from left to right, but Arabic is right to left.
Team members designed and wrote new computer codes for database servers, printer servers, application servers and SAP graphical user interface software. The project took eight weeks to complete. Arabic data can now be entered, stored, displayed and printed directly from SAP R/3.
’We could not have proceeded with the Hydrocarbon Management implementation without this crucial step. Arabic support is a necessity in Saudi Aramco,’ said Ahmed M. Al-Zayyat, general manager of the SAP Computer Centre.
’SAP Arabic support is mutually beneficial to Saudi Aramco and SAP AG because its other customers world-wide who need Arabic support will benefit from Saudi Aramco’s SAP Arabic support project.’