Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Abu Dhabi Media Company Launches

| November 21, 2008 – 9:44 pm | comment No Comments

Goal ArabiaAbu Dhabi Media Company, one of the largest media companies in the region, has launched, the UAE’s first international standard fantasy football game which is playable both online and on mobile devices in Arabic and English.

Based on the English Premier League, players can compete in a virtual league to win the top prize of a Chevrolet Avalanche.

‘The beautiful game just got prettier,’ says Ricky Ghai, Executive Director of Digital Media at Abu Dhabi Media Company. ‘Goalarabia will be the biggest and best fantasy league in the region. We aim to tap into the popularity of sport across the Arab world and provide people with an easy to use platform to compete for great prizes and network with thousands of football fans online. For regional football fans, this is a digital revolution that is premier league in every sense.’

Goal Arabia screenshot

Explaining how the game works, Steve Battams, Web Editor of goalarabia said: ’Players register at our website to claim a £100m fantasy budget to build their own Premiership football team. Using a virtual team selector, fantasy managers apply their tactical skills, football know-how and gut instinct to improve their chances of creating the best performing team, which is linked to how real-life football stars perform.’

‘Players can read, Al Ittihad, The National and Super Magazine for updates on the most successful fantasy teams, as well as checking results on-the-go over their mobile phones. Social networking is a major feature of, as players will be able to use message boards and create mini-leagues to add to the competitive excitement. There’s a good incentive too, as the top performing manager will receive the keys to a new Chevrolet Avalanche at the end of the season and probably become a virtual football hero at the same time.

Middle East Economic Slowdown To Boost Online Advertising

| November 19, 2008 – 4:28 pm | comment 6 Comments

The economic slowdown in the Middle East is expected to accelerate the growth of online advertising in the region, reported The National, as companies opt for less expensive web ads over pricey traditional media.

Advertising online costs fractions of what it costs to advertise via traditional media, and makes it easier to measure the impact of advertising campaigns. 

The market now accounts for up to 20 per cent of total ad spending in developed economies, and is the driver of virtually all growth in advertising spending.

On the other hand, spending on online advertising in the Middle East is estimated to be as low as US$50 million, translating into less than 1 per cent of total advertising spending, which is one of the main factors holding back the growth of startups and web businesses around the region.

Google, which has become a giant in the area of online advertising, and which has been pushing hard into the Arab market, say they are seeing faster growth in regional demand as advertisers look for ways to increase their reach while limiting their spending.
“In an economically cautious environment, people need to continue to grow their business, making people aware of their product while also cutting costs,” said Mohammed Gawdat, the managing director of Google for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Every technology adoption follows an ‘S’ curve: it starts slow, then grows exponentially, peaks and tails off,” he said. “The Middle East is definitely in the hockey-stick part of that curve right now. Our numbers show that it is growing at a tremendous pace.”

Mazen Halawi, the corporate sales manager of Ayna, an Arabic search engine, recently said that large corporate advertisers in the region planned to put a larger percentage of their advertising budget into online media next year, with some planning for almost 10 per cent of total ad spending to go to the internet, up from just 5 per cent last year.

Globally, total advertising spending is predicted to grow by approximately 5 per cent next year, driven almost entirely by the online market, which will grow by 15 to 20 per cent according to some estimates.

# Source: The National

Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation Signs MoU With Syrian Computer Society’s ICT Incubator

| November 17, 2008 – 5:55 pm | comment No Comments

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum FoundationThe Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation of Dubai today announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Syrian Computer Society’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Incubator.

Established to build the information society in Syria and nurture entrepreneurial ideas, the ICT Incubator currently provides a variety of services and training to projects that are commercially viable.

This announcement came during the fourteenth annual Information and Communication Technology exhibit which was held at Exhibition City in the Syrian capital Damascus. The MoU was signed by Sultan Lootah, Vice President of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation’s Entrepreneurship and Employment sector, and Dr Rakan Razouk, Chairman of the ICT Incubator, Syrian Computer Society, in the presence of senior Foundation officials and key Syrian officials from the private sector, public sector and academia.

The agreement marks a new milestone in the Foundation’s Entrepreneurship and Employment sector, which seeks to develop cooperative programmes to advance the creative talents of Arab entrepreneurs and create new job opportunities, as well as enhance research methodologies and information exchange.

The agreement mandates the creation of an extensive online network for regional incubators to encourage interaction, share experiences, discuss best-practices and exchange information between entrepreneurs and incubators throughout the Arab world.


Stardoll And Maktoob Bring Avatar Fashion To Arab Market

| November 16, 2008 – 3:09 pm | comment 2 Comments

Stardoll - MaktoobStardoll, the world’s largest online entertainment destination devoted to girls interested in fame, fashion and friends, has announced a partnership with Maktoob, the world’s largest Arabic online community, to launch an all-new Arabic-language version of Stardoll.

The partnership, which was announced at the Dubai World Game Expo, introduces the Stardoll community to Middle Eastern fashion enthusiasts exclusively on the Maktoob network at The site is now available in 13 countries in the region including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and United Arab Emirates.

Users who join Stardoll’s interactive global community can enjoy the full Stardoll experience; they can create customized ‘MeDoll’ avatars in their own likeness, be able to use Stardollars, the site’s virtual currency, to shop for virtual fashions in the Starplaza, and purchase virtual décor to furnish their personalized suites–all while navigating the site seamlessly in Arabic. Other features of the site include the recently launched Stardoll Magazine, member-created clubs and StarDesign–a virtual design studio.

“Maktoob is proud to partner with Stardoll to bring this one-of-a-kind fashion community for girls in Arabic,” Ahmed Nassef, Vice-President and General Manager of Maktoob, said in a statement. “Teen and Tween girls already make up a huge segment of our audience, currently mostly focused around our casual gaming channels. By partnering with an international leader like Stardoll, we are bringing a whole new level of fun and interactivity to this online-savvy audience.”

“In keeping with the unique cultural traditions of the Middle East, the Arabic-language version of Stardoll has been tailored to reflect the values and sensitivities of the region, while ensuring the confidentiality of user identities as per Maktoob standards,” Nassef added.

“Stardoll is thrilled to partner with the highly regarded Maktoob to bring our content to the Middle East,” said Mattias Miksche, CEO of Stardoll. “As home to more than 20 million users worldwide, Stardoll prides itself on its global reach. We’re happy to connect young fashionistas throughout the Middle East to our global community of girls all over the world who share similar interests.”

Stardoll has about 20 million users worldwide and 8 million unique visitors every month – 94% of whom are teen and tween girls. Most users are girls between the age of 10 to 17 and online safety is a huge consideration. Stardoll adds a layer of anonymity to all accounts. Users can never reveal personal information such as their real name or city of origin on their pages.

Third Queen Rania National Entrepreneurship Competition Winners Announced

| November 10, 2008 – 1:22 pm | comment No Comments

QRNEC LogoThe winners of the third annual Queen Rania National Entrepreneurship Competition (QRNEC) were announced just a few days ago in Amman, Jordan.

HRH Princess Sumaya, who was deputising for Her Majesty Queen Rania at the award ceremony, said that Jordan’s large pool of graduates “represents a tremendous value that Jordan creates every year”, and that the participants in this year’s competition represent “job makers rather than job seekers”, adding that their success is “important to Jordan as role models for the next generation of entrepreneurs whom they will inspire, as future employers and as innovators who are solving valuable problems for society”.

The competition, which aims to encourage a business culture among Jordanian youths, focuses on launching new competitive products and services in various technical sectors, including the environment, information, communications, water desalination, energy and agricultural technologies. It also hopes to promote the spirit of creativity and innovation among young people and highlight the significant role citizens play in social and economic development.

In her address, the Princess stressed that Jordan’s human capital is needed at home to build the country’s economy and advance society. “If we are to examine the numbers of Jordanians abroad, we learn that more than 500,000 live in the Gulf states alone, and nearly one million worldwide,” she said, adding that if the figures are examined “on how much it costs Jordan to educate these expatriates, Jordan is in fact a donor to the global economy in the form of billions of dollars worth of human capital”.


Microsoft BizSpark Offers Startups Free Software And Services

| November 9, 2008 – 1:10 pm | comment 1 Comment

Microsoft BizSparkMicrosoft launched a new program called BizSpark to help Internet companies by giving them free access to software, tech support and introductions to its business partners around the world.

BizSpark is intended to “accelerate the success of entrepreneurs and early-stage startups” using, of course, Microsoft technology, according to the Redmond, Washington-based software colossus.

To be eligible for the program, companies must be privately owned; less than three years old, and have annual revenues of no more than a million dollars.

Startups must be “nominated” by BizSpark Network Partners including economic development agencies, venture capitalists, business incubators, and groups such as global nonprofit The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE).

There is no cap on the number of startups that can get into the BizSpark program and they can come from any of 82 countries.

Startups will be profiled in an online BizSparkDB directory and also get discounted access to Microsoft “cloud computing” resources.

Startups pay nothing to be involved with BizSpark but there is a 100 dollar “exit fee” at the end of the three-year program or if companies leave for other reasons, such as being acquired or going bust.

More information about BizSpark can be found online at Microsoft Startup Zone and Microsoft BizSpark., Business Community Portal For UAE SMEs

| November 7, 2008 – 12:26 pm | comment No Comments

SMELinkThe Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders (SME) and Tejari, the leading online B2B marketplace for global emerging markets, has announced the launch of, a new online portal specifically catering to small and medium businesses.

The launch of this portal marks yet another addition to the rapidly expanding portfolio of services provided to Tejari members. “This achievement is a big step for Tejari and we are convinced that e-commerce will only grow from strength to strength through our initiatives,” said Omar Hijazi, CEO of Tejari.

Members registered with the Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment For Young Business Leaders automatically become a member of this portal, gaining access to an online community of over quarter million members. In addition to this, all members of the community are eligible for an eExhibit package, whereby they can set up an online showroom to display their products and services.

“The new portal will without doubt benefit members of the establishment and will open up new windows of opportunity for existing and new small and medium size enterprises,” said Adbul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Mohammed bin Rashid Est. for Young Business Leaders (SME).

# Source: Khaleej Times

Google Calendar Is Launched In Arabic

| November 5, 2008 – 6:23 pm | comment No Comments

Google Calendar (Arabic)Google today announced the launch of Google Calendar in Arabic. Google Calendar is a tool that simplifies keeping track of events, special occasions, and appointments — whether they’re on your own agenda or on the calendars of contacts who opt to share their schedules with you.

Google Calendar has become one of the most popular calendar services online. It has proven fast and easy to use; users can add events just by clicking on a time slot and typing in their event information. It’s also integrated with Gmail so they can add events mentioned in email messages to their calendars with just one click. Furthermore, any event on the calendar can be turned into an invitation just by adding the email addresses of the people to invite. Those invitees can then see and respond to the invitation, whether or not they use Google Calendar themselves. The services also makes it easy to share calendars with friends and family, and the other way around.

“Calendar is a great tool for organizing your life,” said Husni Khuffash, UAE Country Manager, Google. “It’s another of our efforts to provide users with fast, easy-to-use applications that help to simplify your life. We’re really happy to be launching this tool in Arabic.”

Google Calendar (Arabic)

Another benefit of Calendar is that it’s open, with the possibility to talk to many other calendar applications, enabling users to easily get event data in and out. And with the integrated holiday calendar, users can see public and national holidays listed automatically on their Google Calendars.

To try Google Calendar out in Arabic just go to the Google Calendar site, then click through to “Settings” and change your language to Arabic. 

Young Arab Leaders & Microsoft Join Hands On Youth Empowerment and Development Programs (YED)

| November 5, 2008 – 1:32 pm | comment No Comments

Microsoft - YAL SigningYoung Arab Leaders (YAL), the region’s foremost development platform for business, public sector and civil society leaders, signed a strategic partnership agreement with Microsoft Gulf to develop the Youth Empowerment and Development (YED) initiative.

The agreement was signed by Assem O. Kabesh, Chief Executive Officer, YAL, and Charbel Fakhoury, General Manager, Microsoft Gulf in the presence of Pamela Passman, Global Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Corp. and Dr. Zaki Khoury, Gulf Citizenship Lead.

The partnership aims to foster the development of future Arab leaders and empower youth with the skills they need to compete in the global economy. In addition, YAL and Microsoft will work towards developing a set of guidelines that will address pressing issues across sectors such as education, employability and entrepreneurship to increase economic and social prosperity.

Commenting on the partnership, Pamela Passman, Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, Microsoft said, “As the Middle East continues to emerge as a dynamic region, we are committed to working closely with organisations such as YAL to further support the development of the individuals and communities in which we operate. We are delighted to join hands with YAL to develop a program that will allow young men and women in the region to gain insight into the rich, diverse and evolving business environment while gaining the skills they need to compete in today’s knowledge economy. Microsoft remains committed to helping countries in the region harness the power of technology for economic and social prosperity.”

Assem O. Kabesh, Chief Executive Officer, YAL, said, “With the Youth Empowerment and Development, YED, initiative, YAL and Microsoft seek to help Arab youth develop the knowledge and skills necessary for the 21st century workplace. One of the means by which we will achieve this is by facilitating access to the Microsoft Education & Technology platform. This initiative will offer support to participants of all of YAL’s related programs and projects over the next three years. Through our initiatives, YAL aims to develop a new generation of Arab youth who can lead the region to greater progress and prosperity. We are confident that our partnership with Microsoft will support us in the task of empowering and equipping young leaders who can drive productivity and competitiveness in the Arab world.”

The partnership with YAL is in line with Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential initiatives that create social and economic opportunity through programs and products that transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and opportunities worldwide.

Maktoob Unveils ‘Khan Wars’ A Free Online Strategy Game

| November 1, 2008 – 12:43 pm | comment 5 Comments

Khan, the world’s largest Arabic online community with over 12 million unique users, has unveiled ‘Khan Wars‘, a free, strategy-based online game played directly through the Web browser. The Arabic-language game was launched at the first Dubai World Game Expo, which opened yesterday at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.

Available exclusively on, ‘Khan Wars’ is designed to recreate medieval times, bringing to life epic battles of an ancient era by leveraging war simulation technologies. ‘Khan Wars’ can be played from any computer with just a Web browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, and doesn’t necessitate downloads. Gamers can register for the free, browser-based game by logging on to

With the launch of ‘Khan Wars’, becomes one of the pioneers to bring Arabic-language online gaming to a mass Arab audience through its extensive online consumer reach, which includes hundreds of thousands of tech-savvy young gamers in the 13-24 age group.

“We are confident that’s substantial youth demographic, combined with the non-stop action experience that ‘Khan Wars’ offers gamers, will make Khan Wars a sure winner with the burgeoning gaming community in the Arab world,” said Sohaib Thiab, Product Manager, Games.

‘Khan Wars’ is designed to offer gaming aficionados a fast-paced, non-stop action experience that far exceeds the excitement of casual gaming by appealing to the players’ imagination and challenging their tactical acumen. The game requires players to rely on tactics and positioning, think up new strategies and maneuver artfully.


Sign up for StartUpArabia news sent to your inbox:
Subscribe: Feed

Recent Comments