A system is presented for spotting and searching keywords in handwritten Arabic documents. A slightly modified dynamic time warping algorithm is used to measure similarities between words. Two sets of features are generated from the outer contour of the words/word-parts. The first set is based on the angles between nodes on the contour and the second set is based on the shape context features taken from the outer contour. To recognize a given word, the segmentation-free approach is partially adopted, i.e., continuous word parts are used as the basic alphabet, instead of individual characters or complete words. Additional strokes, such as dots and detached short segments, are classified and used in a postprocessing step to determine the final comparison decision. The search for a keyword is performed by the search for its word parts given in the correct order. The performance of the presented system was very encouraging in terms of efficiency and match rates. To evaluate the presented system its performance is compared to three different systems. Unfortunately, there are no publicly available standard datasets with ground truth for testing Arabic key word searching systems. Therefore, a private set of images partially taken from Juma’a Al-Majid Center in Dubai for evaluation is used, while using a slightly modified version of the IFN/ENIT database for training.