Archive for the ‘Startup News’ Category

Dubai-based Content Syndicate Wins YourBusiness SME Awards

| October 30, 2008 – 9:45 pm | comment No Comments

Content SyndicateAt a recent industry event organised by YourBusiness magazine and Visa, Dubai-based Content Syndicate was awarded two prestigious awards, emerging triumphant in the ‘Best New SME’ as well as the overall ‘Best SME in the GCC’ categories.

The awards were sponsored by HP and Visa International as platinum sponsor of the overall winner category.

The 2008 YourBusiness SME Awards marks the anniversary of YourBusiness publication in the market and by extension seeks to reward entrepreneurs for growth. Sponsors for these awards include Visa International, Emirates NBD, Etisalat, HP, Hamriyah Free Zone, DHL and Forsa.

The awards were open to local and expatriate business owners of small to medium enterprises, or SMEs that employ less than 250 staff, earn up to AED 50 million and operate in the Gulf region. The awards ceremony took place at the Park Hyatt Hotel on 20 October 2008 and was attended by over 200 invitees.

Commenting on the win, Content Syndicate’s Founder & CEO, Maddy Reddy, said: “With SMEs constituting nearly 80% of the business ecosystem, both in the region and globally, we are honoured to be awarded this recognition. It’s also easy to overlook the fact that some of the biggest firms out there were all ‘garage start-ups’ or SMEs when they started out. This award is an important milestone for us in the long and exciting journey ahead.”

The judging panel comprised of senior management from Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, Visa, HP, Etisalat, HSBC, Emirates NBD, Citibank, YourBusiness advisory board and business consultants.

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SouqElArab Partners With LebanonPath To Provide More Products From Lebanon

| October 25, 2008 – 1:58 pm | comment No Comments

SouqElArabThe Arab social Web shopping portal, SouqElArab.com, just announced a partnership with LebanonPath.com to better serve Arab communities across the globe with the finest Lebanese and Arab products.   

LebanonPath.com is an Online Lebanese shopping Web site that serves directly from the heart of Lebanon with products such as Lebanese sweets, food, coffee, books, flowers, arts, olive oil, clothing and much more. Through major suppliers of gourmet foods, such as Atayeb Alrif and sweets from Douwaihy, LebanonPath.com has been able to serve customers from all over the world whom have the interest and taste for the Lebanese product.  

The partnership between SouqElArab.com and LebanonPath.com will boost the service from Lebanon with expanding product offering for both Web sites, supporting regional supplier reach and logistics platforms. SouqElArab.com will be offering more products from Lebanon, while LebanonPath.com has the reach of suppliers from the 15 countries SouqElArab.com operates from.  

The CEO of SouqElArab Inc. points; “Our efforts are going in to synchronizing the operations in Lebanon, and concentrating on the core markets abroad by serving them with the best quality and wide product offering. Both operations will be coming together in Beirut, cutting costs, while enriching the service provided to our customers.” Fadi Dababneh continues; “this gives SouqElArab Inc. the focus to expand further in its operations in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran.” 

Albert Abu Hamra the CEO of LebanonPath.Com claims “This effective partnership between both LebanonPath.Com and SouqElArab.com will flourish the online shopping services and products in the Arab world, in order to provide the Arabic audience all over the globe with the best quality of these products and fastest door to door delivery of the products”. CEO of LebanonPath.Com adds: “LebanonPath.Com with its operations from Beirut and in full cooperation with SouqElArab.Com will be covering all product lines where a customer will be shopping safely and choosing from between thousands of products”.

Muxlim Wins World Summit Awards Nomination

| October 20, 2008 – 10:12 pm | comment 2 Comments

MuxlimAt the Mindtrek conference in Tampere,  Muxlim, an online Muslim social media community service, was awarded the World Summit Awards Finland nomination in the “e-Inclusion & Participation” category.

This award gives the company the opportunity to compete in the WSA 2009 with some of the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications.

Muxlim was founded by UAE raised Mohamed El-Fatatry and Pietari Päivänen in December 2006. The company aims to provide cutting-edge services to the Muslim-Lifestyle Market around the world. 

Muxlim WSA Award

The World Summit Award (WSA) is the global initiative to select and promote the world’s best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. WSA was started in 2003 in the framework of the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as a contribution of the Austrian Government to the global effort to bridge the digital divide and close the content gap. WSA activities include national contests and selections of best practice, a global contest held every 2 years and content-focused national and international conferences with exhibitions — the WSA Road Show.

WSA works to strengthen entrepreneurship within content industries and to bring about economic and cultural development through the creative use of ICTs. It supports the UN Millennium Development Goals of ending poverty, hunger and disease, saving the environment and giving a fair share to women.

WSA is an invitation project and a global activity for all who share the understanding of the crucial importance of excellent e-Content creation within the information society. Partners in over 160 UN member states are actively involved in WSA.

Muxlim founder Mohamed El-Fatatry is one of the speakers at SIME Denmark in Copenhagen on November 6th, and at The New Media Event in Dubai, taking place from 14-18 December. 

Muxlim

Yamli Officially Releases Free API Allowing Easy Integration of Arabic Transliteration Into Any Website

| October 9, 2008 – 12:15 am | comment 4 Comments

Yamli Yamli has officially released its free API that allows the easy integration of its award-winning Arabic transliteration technology into any website. Yamli’s Smart Arabic Keyboard allows users to type Arabic using Latin characters by converting their words in real time into Arabic text. Third-party websites using the API can reach a larger group of Arabic speaking visitors who would otherwise find typing Arabic difficult.

According to co-founder Habib Haddad, “We are very excited about making this technology available to any website for free. We hope it will encourage every user to be more engaged with the Arabic language not only on Yamli.com but on all Arabic sites and blogs. Our approach makes a significant contribution to the Arabic web by actually reducing the proliferation of transliterated Arabic words and converting them into real Arabic words,” concluded Haddad.

Various studies show that a large portion of Arabic internet users shy away from typing Arabic, choosing instead to write Arabic phonetically using Latin characters in an ad-hoc and informal fashion. The transliteration of Arabic words and the limited availability of Arabic keyboards have stymied the use of Arabic on the web. By making it easy for everyone to type in Arabic, Yamli.com is making the Arabic language more accessible for every day users, and helping to promote Arabic content on the web.

According to George Akra, Co-founder of Ikbis, the popular photo and video sharing service, “I think Yamli is one of the most innovative and useful services in the region, plugging the API to our site was easy and lead to the increase of Arabic comments on Ikbis.com. The simplicity and accuracy of the service is just remarkable,” concluded Akra.

The technology allows users to fully engage with Arabic content on blogs, e-commerce, social networking, education, government, video and music websites. The API, which has been undergoing testing since March with selected partners, such as Maktoob, Annahar, Moheet, ART TV, 3alarasi, and Babnet, has already been used by hundreds of thousands of users already.

According to Sami Tueni, the General Manager of Naharnet, a leading Lebanese news and services portal, ”Yamli is the best contribution to the Arab web. So easy to implement, it was the long awaited tool to help the Arabic language flourish online,” concluded Tueni.

You can get more info about the API at www.yamli.com/api

The Arabic version of StartUpArabia has been using the Yamli API for quite some time now, integrating the very useful Arabic transliteration functionalities in the user comments area. It was really easy to setup and integrate, and only took a couple of minutes time.

But to make things even easier and straight-forward for website developers to integrate the Yamli functionalities into their websites, a new easy setup page has been added that enables developers to configure the Yamli API and generate the bit of code needed to integrate it exactly the way they need it.

On another note, in a recent conversation with Yamli co-founder Habib Haddad, he shared the info that Yamli is working on an exciting big new project that aims to take Arabic search to a whole new level, making it much more relevant for Arab search users. More details will follow about this project as they become available.

Araby Search Engine Launches Redesign And New Features

| October 8, 2008 – 10:44 am | comment No Comments

ArabyArabic search engine “Araby“, which is a subsidiary of Maktoob Group, just launched a new design and a number of new functionalities and services to make it easier for users to reach what they’re looking for faster.

Among the new services is a thematic search feature, where the most used keywords on Araby are grouped and categorized by theme; these themes cover all tastes and interests, from sports, to technology, to Islam, to women’s issues, to art and celebrity news, to finance and business related topics, and more. The themes are displayed on the homepage with their most popular keywords, that are clickable, enabling users to directly access their search results.

Araby screenshot

Other new features include auto completion of search keywords as the user types in the terms he’s looking for, refreshing the list with suggested popular user searches with every typed letter.

Another new addition is the search help section that displays a number of searches that are related to the one entered by the user, to provide other options for them to take their search further and find results of interest to them.

ShooFeeTV To Broadcast From Jordan Media City

| September 28, 2008 – 12:16 pm | comment 5 Comments

ShooFeeTVShooFeeTV has signed an agreement with the Jordan Media City (JMC) to transmit its free-to-air satellite channel from the JMC site in Amman.

ShooFeeTV’s state-of-the-art data center will link to JMC by a fiber-optic connection that will carry the signal from ShooFeeTV to the satellite platform ArabSat via JMC’s facilities.

After extensive market research, ShooFeeTV decided to go with JMC not only because of their experience and extremely efficient operations. “It’s a tightly run ship,” says Amjad Tadros, founder and CEO of ShooFeeTV.

The ShooFeeTV agreement with the JMC represents a company philosphy of quality and excellence. On-screen graphics and broadcast equipment come from The Harris Corporation, and provide flexibility and reliability for businesses that can’t afford to go offline. The Harris broadcast equipment can be easily integrated with ShooFeeTV’s online and mobile phone products.

ShooFeeTVShooFeeTV, the premier content provider of Arab satellite channel information on television, the web and third-party services, will air an around-the-clock scrolling guide of programs from more than 150 of the most popular satellite channels on the ArabSat and NileSat platforms. With original quality programs to supplement the channel such as ShooFee Aflam, ShooFee 7elo and ShooFee Riyada, the channel will serve as the only information portal continually updating viewers on the best films, series, sports and more.

The business has been built on a conceptually designed model that allows for a seamless transfer of content from ShooFeeTV’s data center to the final-content viewer.

In addition to the channel and a highly developed website, viewers will be able to access ShooFeeTV’s content through a variety of media, including mobile phones, podcasts and syndication services.

Tvosz Introduces New Video Player & More Advertising Options

| September 27, 2008 – 1:49 pm | comment No Comments

TvoszTvosz, the Egyptian video sharing service, has launched a new video player, which looks neater, is quite faster, and introduces a number of new options like the possibility to control brightness, contrast and saturation; and direct access to a mini guide of other videos (related, top rated, most viewed, recent, …etc) while your video loads.

In addition to the new video player, Tvosz brings advertisers a number of new advertising options that they can use on the site, including:

Premium videos: these are prominently displayed in the video guide window to attract viewers.
Pre-roll Advertising: these are displayed before the video the user chose to view.
Post-roll Advertising: these are displayed directly after the video the user chose to view.
Mid-roll Advertising: these are set to be displayed in the middle of the video being played by the user with a configurable start time; and giving users the ability to close these midroll ads or navigate between them.

Shown ads are also targeted by video channel, meaning that a person viewing videos about sports will get sports-related ads displayed to them.

Tvosz

Watwet Launches New Version With New Cool Design

| September 16, 2008 – 3:48 pm | comment 1 Comment

WatwetWatwet, the Arab social networking and micro-blogging platform, launched in December 2007 by TootCorp, has just gone live with a really cool new design.

The new design reflects the maturing of the service, presenting the exisiting functionalities in a cleaner and more organized way, and rolling out a number of new features.

Among the base functionalities existing in other mini-blogging services that were added with this version of Watwet are replies, direct access to the public timeline, enabling and disabling SMS updates from certain friends and usage statistics.

Something really interesting Watwet has introduced with this version is the concept of ‘Channels’, which are micro-blogs with specialized content. The Watwet site says that they have signed up more than 18 radio stations, magazines and daily newspapers in Jordan to operate their own channels on Watwet; and that they have content from more than 10 international publishers and media companies around the world.

There are free and premium channels on Watwet. Premium Channels are clearly indicated as such, and thus are paid channels; otherwise the remaining channels are free. The amount to pay for subscribing to a channel varies from channel to channel. The paid channels obviously offer us some insight into one of the ways Watwet plans to monetize the service.

Watwet screenshot

Something they’ve also added with this design are badges that bloggers can use to display their watwets on their blogs, which is something that should get more bloggers on board the mini-blogging wave, and give Watwet more exposure.

Another nice little touch is the launch of ‘Waticons’, little badges that users can pin to their profiles and that something about them visually.

Subscribers with Mobily, the second Saudi mobile operator, can now use SMS to send and receive updates, just like the subscribers of Zain Jordan. All other users, on other networks and in other countries, can only send their updates to Watwet through an international UK number. 

Amazon Joins Taufeer.com E-Channel Retailers Program

| September 7, 2008 – 7:03 pm | comment 4 Comments

TaufeerTaufeer.com, part of Riyadh-based Taufeer Information Systems LLC, a leading e-commerce service provider, today announced that amazon.com, one of the world’s largest online retailers, has joined Taufeer.com e-channel retailers program.

By using Taufeer.com e-channel service, amazon.com will be able to present its products and offers to millions of Ready-to-buy customers in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

‘We are very excited about signing up a mega retailer such as amazon.com to our e-channel program,’ said Yasser Abdullah, Founder and CEO of Taufeer.com.

‘After careful analysis and testing by amazon.com, our advanced comparison shopping service was selected for its simplicity and ease of integration with Amazon.com infrastructure,’ he added.

Starting with consumer electronics products, amazon.com will expand its offering on Taufeer.com to cover a large selection of products targeted for the Saudi market. Amazon.com has no presence in the Arab market and this represent the first step in bringing their collection and shopping experience to Middle East.

‘This is an important milestone in our strategy to be the first destination for online shoppers in the Middle East. Our service is suitable for all retailers, regardless of their current ecommerce deployment stage. So far, the feedback has been excellent and we expect to sign up a few major retailers in Saudi Arabia very shortly.’

Taufeer.com e-Channel service is aimed to help retailers jump start the challenges and technical difficulties and proceed to achieve significant returns without significant investment. Web retailers can also benefit from Taufeer.com shopping comparison to generate qualified sales leads to their online stores.

Ikbis Launch New Advanced Video Player

| August 19, 2008 – 9:01 pm | comment 2 Comments

IkbisIkbis, the popular Arab video and photo sharing website, has launched a new advanced video player with improved features, interface and performance.

The new video player looks a lot cooler than the old one, and feels more organized, using space in a better way, with a new on hover dock system instead of the old fixed bar at the bottom.

A new HD feature has been added to the player to enable watching videos in high definition, and it is now possible to skip forward by dragging the player head on the timeline.

And following the re-design the Ikbis homepage underwent recently, another key page, which is the single video/photo page was also redesigned now to be more compact/streamlined, giving users easier access to related content, commenting, embedding and social bookmarking services.

ikbis new single page

According to Ahmad Humeid, CEO of TootCorp, Ikbis’ parent company, the design also takes into consideration the increasing demand from advertisers that ikbis has been experiencing, especially in the Gulf region.

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