Arabic names

Could someone notify kindly to user ألبرشت شونكا that his edit that the Hebrew name tag in Jewish towns (like Givat Ela, Adi etc.) should not be changes to Arabic, and it should be reverted.


He can be contacted via the forums or by adding a comment on the relevant changesets. I would recommend the latter as it allows the discussion to be public. Why don’t you go ahead and post a comment?

We should keep the Arabic name in the name:ar tag.

Agreed, I didn’t mind putting Arabic names as the primary ones in Arab localities in Israel (although I think we should stick to one language personally), but recently there are a lot of Arabic names being put as primary for all sorts of locations in Israel, like roads and junctions, etc. If there is a way to bulk-revert these changes it would save everyone a lot of time.

I change names and names of highways to Arabic only in Arabic-speaking localities, according to the OSM policy, that always the local language name should be used. [1][2] In disputed cases, I even let the Hebrew name as primary name, where Arabic is the most common language.

If I have accidently changed a name in a Hebrew-speaking locality, than I am sorry about it. Please correct those mistakes. If I have made one, I also will correct those, after I discovered them.


I only change the primary name in localities, where Arabic is the primary language.

If a junction directs to an Arabic town, like Tur’an / Turan (e.g. and is within the borders of the Arabic-speaking community, than the interest for Arabic-speaking people is much higher that the name is in their language than for Hebrew-speakers, who barely visit that town. I am with you, that if you see a disputed case, it should be discussed, and be left in Hebrew in case of doubt.

According to OSM wiki:
“The name=* tag should be used as the primary name, given in the language most common in the area. The name=* tag contains the name only in that common language.”

I am convinced that communication is always the best solution. Many problems in OSM would not occure if there would be a better communication. Also we should avoid politics.

As a compromise I suggest:

  • The primary names of all highways (numbers 1-99) will be always in Hebrew, since people throughout the whole country drive through them
  • The primary names of nature areas/water bodys will be always in Hebrew, except for those who lie completely in Arabic-speaking areas or refer directly to an Arab locality
  • The primary names of regional councils will be always in Hebrew, except for Arabic-only regional councils like Abu Basma Regional Council (I always handled it in this way)
  • In communities and residential areas always the primary used local name should be used, whether it is Arabic ((Umm al-Fahm = Arabic) or Hebrew (Bet Shemesh = Hebrew); junctions should be in the language of the locality, to which they direct/refer to - in case of doubts they stay in Hebrew
  • Disputed cases should be always discussed here in the forums or in the changesets

What are your thoughts?

Your changes in Daliat el Carmel, and possibly in other towns, is problematic. Some things are referred to through their Hebrew name by everyone, and/or don’t even have an Arabic name.

I have local knowledge in Daliat el Carmel, and have specifically used a Hebrew or an Arabic “name” tag based on local usage of what people usually use and say. Some shops and places are referred to using their Hebrew name by everyone. These should have a hebrew “name” tag.

For instance, I have never ever heard someone used the term “دالية الصغيرة” to describe “Dalia Ha-Tsera (דאליה הצעירה)”, and if you tell a resident that name they would have no idea what you are talking about. In fact, I think “دالية الصغيرة” is a nonexistent name and is your own translation. I don’t think it’s an official name, and it’s definitely not a name used by anyone.


Made up Arabic name that nobody uses locally:

Everyone calls this “Shvel Israel”:

Mount Carmel is a huge region and is not Arabic-specific:

I bet there are many more cases.

Also, you have added a “name” tag to the residential area. This is bad tagging and it duplicates Nominatim search results.

I personally think you should refrain from indiscriminate mass edits only because the local region seems to have an Arabic speaking majority. Armchair editing like that could produce bad results. Israeli Arabs often use Hebrew for names of certain places. Either do this carefully or avoid doing it.

Fixed it, and added the former name (“دالية الصغيرة”, “Dalia as-saghira”) under alt_name:ar. However, it is not a made-up term. If we compare the search results, “Dalia as-saghira” (“دالية الصغيرة”) is even the term with most results.

“إسرائيل شفيل” (Israel Shvel) gives 5500 results in Google Search, "“شفيل إسرائيل” (Shvel Israel) gives 40 results,
“ممر إسرائيل الوطني” (Israel National Trail) gives 6200 results, without quote signs even over 500,000 results. So “ممر إسرائيل الوطني” (Israel National Trail) is the more popular version for name:ar. Maybe in some regions “shvel” is a more used term under the Arabic-speaking population, but if we stay on a country-wide solution “ممر إسرائيل الوطني” (Israel National Trail) is the better term for name:ar. Israel Shvel (“إسرائيل شفيل”) could be complemented as an alt_name:ar tag.

This is a disputed case, but I changed it back to the Hebrew name.

This is a different topic that is only secondary to this topic, and could be discussed in a new thread. In Israel general nearly all residential areas hold a name tag. Even though this is OSM-wide now a bad practice, it is the common practice in Israel. I added it, because it is the common practice in all other areas. Maybe you could start a different thread to discuss this topic, so that a country-wide solution could be found for this topic, if you have the time.

Also a phenomenon I saw a lot, that tags like name:en1, name:en2, name:en3, name:he1, 2, 3 etc. are used. These tags are now deprecated. Alternative names should be put in the alt_name:[lg] tag with semicolons used in case of multiple alternative names. For example alt_name:en=[name1];[name2];[name3] etc. Nominatim will find them.

Thank you for your cooperation!

I was talking about local usage, not Google search results. I live there. I have never heard either of the terms in Dalia. Nevertheless, let’s consider Google for a moment.

Yet, how many of those results are relevant? As in, referring to that particular neighborhood in Daliat el carmel? And not to Daliat el Carmel in general. Or actually have the exact term inside them. I think the answer would be near zero, or absolute zero. It’s not even a fully accurate translation. A proper translation would be something along the lines of “youthful dalia” and not “small Dalia”.


Most Israeli Arabs do write and read Hebrew, and I assume they’d have used “שביל ישראל”. Transliteration is not necessary. Hence my point about keeping some Hebrew name tags as is.

With that said, I don’t know for certain if “שביל ישראל” is the most common term in other Arabic-speaking towns (though I’m sure it is in Dalia), but my general point stands: Sometimes the Hebrew name is the only name, or the dominant name, or the name preferred locally, and therefore guessing translations is not always a good idea.

Regarding the relevance of the results for “ممر إسرائيل الوطني”, I have only skimmed through, but I noticed the exact term “إسرائيل شفيل, ممر إسرائيل الوطني” appearing a few times, and I believe it is auto-derived from some sort of map (Google Maps? OSM?). This does not necessarily reflect the reality of term usage. The relevancy is totally lost after a few search pages.

edit: slightly reworded to fix ambiguous sentences.

There are only 2 Druze villages, and the rest is places dominated by Hebrew speaking population, including a significant portion of Haifa. Quoting Wikipedia:

"הכרמל הוא רובע הבנוי לאורך חלקו הצפוני של רכס הכרמל ועל שלוחות שלו מערבה. שטחו הוא כ-7.85 קמ"ר, והוא הרובע המאוכלס ביותר בחיפה, עם כ-45,000 תושבים המהווים כ-17% מכלל תושבי העיר. "

That’s more people than Dalia and Osfiya combined, and that’s just Haifa.

“The name=* tag should be used as the primary name, given in the language most common in the area. The name=* tag contains the name only in that common language.”

I don’t have specific comments regarding your suggestions at the moment, but I would advise adding the following additions to avoid future problems similar to Dalia:

Situations where armchair-modifying “name” to AR should be avoided:

  • POIs whose Arabic name is not obvious and is hard to verify online, (and sometimes does not exist at all), that have no name:ar, or that have a name:ar which is a transliteration from Hebrew. Editing these requires local knowledge. Typically these are smaller POIs like neighborhoods or local roads.

If it’s a significant POI, it likely has an Arabic name and you can likely figure it out with searches. If it has a normal non transliterated name:ar and it’s in an Arabic speaking area, copying “name:ar” to “name” is not a problem.

I haven’t thought deeply about this and may have missed something.

I am trying my best to always cooperate.

If someone travels from a foreign country to Israel or looks at the map in Israel the term “ممر إسرائيل الوطني” is more suitable, since it as a geographically more neutral term and is also understandable and better comprehensible to a foreigner. “شفيل” is a more colloquial term, so it could be put under loc_name:ar. My two cents.

Thank you for your advices.

With best regards.

Hi guys,
I see you discussed here same issue as I saw recently 15/32.8608/35.3003:
“Hagalil” road changes its main name from hebrew to arabic and then back to hebrew.

Which conventions we should use here?

Isn’t there a convention that features that have multiple names, like rivers, have their ‘name’ attribute set to their names in all relevant languages, joined by dashes, in alphabetical order of ISO-639 codes of those languages? In this case, that would be the Arabic name, plus dash, plus the Hebrew name (because ‘ar’ comes before ‘he’)?

Never saw such convention.

Here’s an example:

name 	Ville de Bruxelles - Stad Brussel
name:fr 	Ville de Bruxelles
name:nl 	Stad Brussel