AppsArabia, An Arabic Mobile Applications Development Fund

| Jun 7, 2010 | comment 11 Comments

appsarabiaAbu Dhabi’s twofour54 has recently announced it will be launching a new investment fund called ‘AppsArabia‘, which promotes and supports mobile app development throughout the Middle East and North Africa using the Software Development Kits (SDKs) of all the major mobile and online platforms (e.g. Android (Google), iPhone OS (Apple), BlackBerry, Facebook, OpenSocial and Ovi (Nokia)).

The fund will be offered by twofour54 ibtikar, which provides funding and support to start-up and early stage Arabic content initiatives.

AppsArabia is led by David Ashford, and the plan for it is to invest in the best ideas for apps from entrepreneurs, app developers and businesses, and provide commercial guidance, resources and marketing support to make these apps successful.

According to AppsArabia, research has shown that in 2009, over half a million iPhone units were sold in the region, but still there wasn’t much being done in terms of applications being built in the region for the region. AppsArabia aims to solve that problem by helping boost and support development in the area of mobile apps.

Successful projects will be sold under the AppsArabia brand, with a significant share of the profit going to the developers once twofour54 has covered its initial investment.

A new community web site,, has also been established to provide a supportive marketplace for all stakeholders in apps development – entrepreneurs, designers, developers and corporate clients.

The fund and website are not aimed solely at software developers, but rather for anyone who has great ideas in the mobile app spaces who would like to see their ideas come to life through bringing together members of the public, entrepreneurs, software developers and designers.

  • John Hans

    Sounds like a great idea, still very light on information.
    Tons of unanswered questions I wish you can bring David on to answer some of the questions such as;
    -What will happen after the investment is paid?
    -What is this size of the investment?
    -Will AppsArabia provide facilities, equipment and software?

    Great initiative in anycase.

  • Will Cooper

    This is refreshingly forward-thinking for a project coming out of this region.

    After doing a bit of reading up on David Ashford, given the association with Future Workshop, how will AppsArabia protect the interests of the entrepreneur.
    As someone who is currently involved in a number of App projects there is always the fear of an idea being leaked and a competitor launching your idea before you!

  • AppsArabia

    Hi, thanks for the article Mohamed and for the comments from your readers. Here are responses to the questions:

    1. @Will Cooper: AppsArabia will absolutely protect the interests of the entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs submit their ideas online (in the form of an investment application) *in confidence* and they will be reviewed in the order they are received. We are working to develop a sustainable local industry for app development and it is definitely not in our interest to leak ideas that belong to entrepreneurs.

    2. @John Hans: We will not pay the investment amount as a lump sum to the entrepreneur, rather we will agree a plan with the entrepreneur and pay his/her bills as and when agreed milestones in the project plan are met. Once the app is launched and generates revenue, we receive payback for our investment first and then, from that point forward, the entrepreneur receives the further revenue with AppsArabia keeping a small percentage to cover the cost of the ongoing services we provide, e.g. marketing, promotion, helping to plan the app evolution, etc.

    3. @John Hans: The size of the investment is whatever it needs to be … but must be commercially justifiable. The revenue forecasts for the app need to be sufficient to pay back the investment and deliver significant profit for the entrepreneur. The larger the investment requirement, the more pressure on the app to generate huge amounts of revenue. Revenue forecasts *must* be realistic and we have to be convinced as such, e.g. using research data. We will only invest in projects where the entrepreneur can achieve commercial success.

    4. @John Hans: AppsArabia will connect entrepreneurs to the talent they need to develop their idea into an app (we're actively sourcing and growing this talent pool); provide mentoring; be involved in focus groups to help entrepreneurs develop their plans; facilitate introductions to helpful third parties where possible (including technical support); leverage our relationships with key influencers such as the network operators, Android, Apple, Blackberry, Nokia, etc. to help entrepreneurs; provide risk free investment to the best ideas on very favourable commercial terms (our goal is not to make money for ourselves but to help entrepreneurs to make money); provide marketing and promotion through our web site, social media and PR. We cannot offer free facilities, equipment and software (yet) but we are hoping to influence the main partners to provide these for us to pass on to our members. We cannot offer free office space but I'm hoping to set up some sort of hotdesk environment soon where people can come, hang out, meet each other and collaborate.

    Just to be clear, AppsArabia is *not* a charity. Our goal is to create a *sustainable* industry for app development and the best way to achieve sustainability is to achieve profit. So our focus is to help the entrepreneurs to make money. To do this, we need to build a talent pool, lobby the corporates to consider developing apps within the region (as opposed to outsourcing) and do whatever we can to encourage and support entrepreneurs to build commercially successful apps that consumers *want* and will be prepared to pay for.

    The AppsArabia web site will evolve over time – we're going to be publishing more content, attracting more members and going live with a discussion forum soon. The forum will be a great place for us to have open discussions about these sorts of things.

    I'm excited that we've got lots of smart people with relevant skills in the region and I'm confident that we can help them to develop their ideas and create great apps which will ultimately benefit the consumers … within MENA and beyond.

    I'll be out of the country all next week but look forward to engaging in plenty of dialogue with you all going forward.

    Thanks, David.

  • John Hans


    Thank you for the info, this really does sound very exciting and looking at your organization it seems that you are on the right track.

    Finally someone in the UAE seems to be getting it right.

    Look forward to seeing some great things coming out of AppsArabia.

    Best of luck.

  • Mohamed Marwen Meddah

    Thank you very much for the reply and details David; it's great to have heard back directly from you on this.

    Really looking forward to this being a driver for successful mobile apps in the region.

  • fandi yaicne

    Hi All !

    Would AppsArabia invest in project where there is a conflict of interests ? meaning if AppsArabia can invest in a startup which is a competitor of one their startup portfolio ?

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  • Notcool

    Totally not necessary, no sales pitch here please.

    If you have ideas, concepts or relevant info, please share. But (for me at least) there are other venues for you to sell your goods.

  • Jane

    How many companies have been launched under this project? Are there any announced?

  • Rashed Haneef

    Hey Guys! Its really nice to see such activities in the middle east .. I my self work for a Mobile App Development company known as [x]cube LABS as a Business Development Manager.. and trust me Mobile apps industry is a HOT CAKE . I was wondering if there were any firms in UAE as I'm willing to relocate.

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