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The automatic recognition of text on scanned images has enabled many applications such as searching for words in large volumes of documents, automatic sorting of postal mail, and convenient editing of previously printed documents. The domain of handwriting in the Arabic script presents unique technical challenges and has been addressed more recently than other domains. Many different methods have been proposed and applied to various types of images. This paper provides a comprehensive review of these methods. It is the first survey to focus on Arabic handwriting recognition and the first Arabic character recognition survey to provide recognition rates and descriptions of test data for the approaches discussed. It includes background on the field, discussion of the methods, and future research directions.