Abu Dhabi: LinkedIn, the online professional social network, launched its Arabic version on Wednesday at an event held at the company’s new regional headquarters in Dubai.

The launch of Arabic, the first bi-directional language on LinkedIn, brings the total number of languages available to 24.

With 347 million members on the network, users from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) account for over 14 million today — up from five million in October 2012.

“With the addition of the Arabic version of the site we hope to connect nearly 200 million professionals and students in the region with each other. Students and recent graduates are an important focus for us, especially in this region where 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 30. With this audience being very well technologically connected, the Arabic version of the site will further strengthen their engagement with LinkedIn,” Ali Matar, head of talent solutions at LinkedIn Mena, told Gulf News.

He added that the company’s focus in the region was on creating economic opportunities for professionals, and on providing more localised services.

Asked if LinkedIn was looking at new languages, Matar said that the company was “always evaluating new language opportunities”, but did not disclose further details.

Meanwhile, Noura Al Kaabi, chief executive officer at twofour54, who attended the launch, said that the move was a significant step towards strengthening the Arabic media sector, and developing local content.

“LinkedIn Arabic will enable greater communication among individuals and major companies within the region, and support career building efforts with the ability to search for opportunities that fit with their skills and potential,” Al Kaabi said.

Also at the launch was Adel Fakeih, Saudi Arabia’s minister of labour, who said that LinkedIn Arabic will be a useful tool for youth to identify key areas of demand, and build their skills accordingly.