How should longitude and latitude be properly formatted in the arabic language?

e.g. how should the following coordinates be displayed in arabic language:

40°26′46.23″ N, 79°56′56.12″ W?


40°26′46.23″ N means درجات 40 دقایق 26 46.23 ثوانی

In Persian language it's a little different :

in Persian language means : 40 درجه 26 دقیقه 46.23 ثانیه it depends on your coordinate system .If you are using UTM, The results are differ from another coordinate systems. for example in UTM: 519343 خط الطول
3965264 خط العرض

numbers in Arabic and Persian languages also differ from English : the numbers are ٠‎ ١‎ ٢‎ ٣‎ ٤‎ ٥‎ ٦‎ ٧‎ ٨‎ ٩ respectively 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

point(".") in Arabic is slash character ("/") thus 46.23 is 46/23

translate to Arabic


I doubt anything will change if you convert the coordinates you mentioned into Arabic. The numerical system used universally (eg. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...etc) is a Hindu-Arabic system so the number "symbols" will not change.

And as far as I understand it (someone correct me if I am wrong), the English (or Latin) symbols used in Coordinate Reference Systems (CRS) or Spatial Reference Systems (SRS) are also used universally (eg. N is for North, E is for East...etc).

I don't think I have seen any other symbology used in coordinate systems other than the two mentioned above.

Very difficult to find any sources on any kind of GIS software fully utilising Arabic. I have found several sources in terms of GIS software being used in Arabic-speaking countries but practically all of them encourage their users to use GIS in English.

However, there was a GIS system built in Dubai which allowed English/Arabic translations within the online-software:

Explore Dubai

The image was taken from this paper which studied "Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems in Developing Countries". Unfortunately, I cannot access the GIS software. Not sure if it has been removed or if it is unavailable to international users but this is the link:

This, in no way, answers your question but I just included it for further information.

  • There are languages that use N/E/S/W for directions. There are languages that are using their own signs. There are diffirent pointers for decimal part (e.g. 5,23 vs 5.23) world wide. Some countries write direction sign before coordinate value and some after it (as I did). Some languages (like arabic) are RTL (right to left). There are different signs for degrees, minutes and seconds world wide. I would like to know what is a proper format for coordinates in arabic language. – Conradaek Sep 22 '14 at 14:51
  • You are wrong. Number symbols do change (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Arabic_numerals). Probably the same with symbols for directions (N/E/S/W). You haven't seen other symbology because your are not arab language native (I guess). – Conradaek Sep 22 '14 at 14:55
  • Then I stand corrected :). I was speaking from my (very) limited experience that I haven't seen other symbology used. I am aware how other languages can operate as you have mentioned but have not come across them in coordinate systems. I shall ask Google to teach me! – Joseph Sep 22 '14 at 15:00
  • Thanks! It is ok I think that GIS software encourage its users to work in English. I assume that people that use such software are professionals who speak english. I am building a software that is not GIS and lot of my user's don't speak english but I need to ask them in their langauge to provide a direct location of various points. I want it to be user friendly. – Conradaek Nov 5 '14 at 16:37

With Google search for geographic directions in arab I found: Cardinal Directions - WordReference Forums forum.wordreference.com › Semitic Languages › العربية (Arabic). Cardinal directions in MSA are as follows: جنوب-S شمال-N الشرق-E الغرب-W the autor has read that Arabs regarded North as the left and ... Points of the Compass: شرق /غرب/جنوب/شمال

WIKIPEDIA gives ref: Cardinal direction Countries where Arabic is used refer to the cardinal directions as Ash Shamaliyah (N), Al Gharbiyah (W), Ash Sharqiyah (E) and Al Janobiyah (S). Additionally, Al Wusta is used for the center. All five are used for geographic subdivision names (wilayahs, states, regions, governorates, provinces, districts or even towns), and some (of these directionsare the origin of some Southern Iberian place names (such as Algarve, Portugal and Axarquía, Spain). PS the so named 'arab' number symbols came from India.


Arabic script is written from right to left (and from top to bottom), but numbers are written from left to right. If you have a good look on the number symbols you will see that many of the Latin symbols are resembling the Arabic symbols after turning the Arabic symbols 90 degrees to the left, particular the 1, 2, 3, and 7 and also the 4, 6, and 9. See also http://www.oocities.org/uripi/arabic_numbers.html

  • I am not asking how to format a number. I am asking how to format a geografic coordinates which is more complex than formatting a simple number. The same is with currency formatting: currency formatting is more complex than number formatting. E.g. depending on a locale the currency symbol is on the left or right side of a number ("1 121,12 EUR" or "EUR 1,121.12"). – Conradaek Nov 5 '14 at 16:17

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