I have a SQL Server 2012 DB with a column that includes Arabic text. The column is nvarchar(MAX) with collation Arabic_CI_AI_KS_WS. To test if LIKE searches are working I copied some of the text from the column and pasted it into a query as follows

select * from MyTable where MyColumn like N'%arabic_text%'

I can visually see the text in the column, but the query returns no results. Searching for latin characters in the column works fine.

What else can I try?

  • 2
    1) try using Arabic_100_CI_AI_KS_WS instead as it is newer and more likely to have proper sort weights defined. 2) please post some example strings from your column for us to test with. Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 14:09
  • @SolomonRutzky I'm not allowed to share the actual data. I can tell you the table is full of snapshots of web pages including the full HTML source and a bunch of metadata. The column that's not working is the full HTML source column. It does work if I put the exact same raw text in with no HTML. Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 15:01
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    ? You don't have a single value in the table that you can jumble up and provide us with a repro? Seriously? It seems like you only need a string with a single character embedded. How a single character could be considered proprietary, secret data, I have no idea. "Hey Verizon, when I call a certain number, I get disconnected." Verizon: "Can you tell us a number that this happens with?" Me: "No." Verizon: "¯\_(ツ)_/¯" Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 15:21
  • So you can't post one value from that HTML source column? Can you reproduce the problem with a subset of the actual data in that column, and post that subset? Also, regarding trying other Collations, you would add the following to the end of your query: COLLATE Arabic_100_CI_AI_KS_WS_SC. Also try: COLLATE Arabic_100_BIN2. Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


Maybe it is too late for an answer, but I suggest the following solution:

WHERE MyColumn LIKE N'" & MYTEXTBOX & "%';"

In this context MYTEXTBOX is not a built in keyword in the query; it is an external variable. I use this solution always and it works, especially when building a complex search criteria, and it work with all versions.

  • 1
    Creating dynamic SQL by concatenation is vulnerable to SQL injections, so it should be avoided. What's more, this doesn't really address the issue why looking for Arabic text fails.
    – vonPryz
    Commented Dec 9, 2021 at 13:06

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