Archive for the ‘Startups’ Category

Saot Al Arab, What Would You Do If You Were The Leader?

| February 15, 2010 – 4:20 pm | comment No Comments

Saot Al ArabSaot Al Arab (The voice of Arabs) is an interesting and ambitious non-profit project that was recently launched for the Arab world, asking visitors what they would do if they were in the leader’s chair, what would be the first project they would launch.

The idea of course is to give Arabs a space to voice their opinions and thoughts in an open and simple way that will let them get their ideas about different subjects and areas across to everyone. In a way, the site attempts to offer a platform for freedom of expression without making it a ground where people can openly criticize their governments, by framing the responses in a certain fictional context.

So basically, users from across the Arab world can go to the site and submit ideas for projects that they would implement and put in place if they were the leaders and decision makers; while other users visiting the site get to vote on the ideas and leave their comments.

Project ideas are categorized by topic: Security, Media, Economics, Education, Culture, Politics, Society, and Technology; and also broken down by Country.

Saot Al Arab

A very interesting goal and milestone for the project lies ahead, as the plan is that after a certain time collecting all these ideas, they will be compiled into a book, a copy of which will be sent to each Arab ruler; the book will also be made available in the market for everyone.

Unfortunately, in order to make sure that nothing that will get the site banned is published, submitted ideas do currently have to go through a screening process before being published on the site.

The project was launched by Hijazi Natsheh, a Palestinian entrepreneur currently based out of the United Arab Emirates.

Shofha.com, Arabic Movies & Series Online On Demand

| February 13, 2010 – 3:34 pm | comment 88 Comments

ShofhaLINKonLINE, a subsidiary of LINKdotNET (an Orascom Telecom Holding company), has announced the launch of a new entertainment service called Shofha, in collaboration with regional movie and series producers and rights owners.

The new service, which is available in English and Arabic, allows anyone from anywhere in the world, to legally watch the latest Arabic movies and television series online on the same day of their international release. Movies and series are provided in high resolution, commercial free, through online streaming or download; with the video files being all DRM protected,  most probably using Microsoft Windows Media DRM.

Shofha.com comes with a good back catalogue of movies and series, either on rental or purchase basis, that can be downloaded or watched online. TV series will be available in both full series form as well as sing episode form; even 5 minute episode highlights are provided for those without much time on their hands.

The available options are to: Buy the video, where a user gets to download the video to their pc and play it anytime they wish indefinitely, with the ability to download the movie up to 3 times; Rent the video, where  a user can download the video to their pc and watch it as many times as they want within a 48 hour time-frame; and finally there’s the Internet Cinema option where the user gets to instantly start watching the video through online streaming as many times as they wish in a 24 hour time-frame, with the quality of the video depending on the connection speed the user has.

The prices for each option seem to vary depending on the country, for example international users paying in US dollars would have to pay something like: $US 6 to buy, $US 3 to rent, and $US 9 to stream online; on the other hand, someone in the UAE would pay 9 Dirhams to buy, 5 Dhs to rent, and 7 Dhs to stream online, which is much cheaper.

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Altibbi, An Online Arabic Medical & Health Resource

| January 20, 2010 – 2:01 pm | comment 1 Comment

AltibbiAltibbi is an online Arabic medical and health resource, that aims to be a one stop destination for Arab users who are interested in researching and finding more about certain medical and health terms and conditions.

The portal provides a medical dictionary, medical articles and news, as well as question and answer features. It currently includes over 60,000 concise definitions of medical and health terms, and provides detailed descriptions of medical conditions, medications, conventional medical and healing practices, anatomical and physiological terms, illnesses and disorders, drugs, tests and procedures, noted medical personalities, and more.

All the content on the site is Arabized and clearly explained in Arabic, also matching each word with its official synonym term in English.

Altibbi

The goal of Altibbi is to contribute to raising awareness around health related issues among the general population, and removing any mystery surrounding illnesses and diseases. It can also be a handy resource for Arab medical students.

Something the site makes sure to clear up though is that the information on it should not be used in place of visiting and getting the advice of a medical professional, just as a resource to find information and to help understand certain medical details better.

Fora9, A New Online Job Service For Women

| January 19, 2010 – 5:49 pm | comment 1 Comment

Fora9Fora9 (read ‘Foras’, which means ‘Opportunities’ in Arabic) is a new free online job service out of Kuwait, created for women in the Middle East and North Africa, to make it easier for them to find job opportunities.

The idea came to life when the developing company was looking to build a team and faced difficulties getting to qualified women for certain positions even though they know they were obviously out there.

The design is simplistic and presents job opportunities under four different types which are part time jobs, full time jobs, telework, and volunteer work; and under several categories from IT jobs, to sales and marketing, to teaching and accounting, and more. Featured open job positions are also highlighted on the front page of the site.

The service also attempts to make it as simple as possible for companies and organizations to post their job openings that are tailored for women on the site, and reach a more targeted and qualified audience.

fora9

Fora9 is a product of Wasm Media, a Kuwait based company founded by Abdulmohsen Alajmi. It currently is available in Arabic only.

This isn’t the first time an Arab startup tries to tackle the women employment and jobs area; we previously covered Sudanese startup Twffaha that focused on the same point, which seems to have abandoned the effort at some point along the way.

Kngine, A New Semantic Web Search Engine

| January 18, 2010 – 1:04 pm | comment 14 Comments

KngineKngine is a new semantic web search engine and question answering engine that was launched from Egypt, aiming to provide more meaningful search results to users.

Unlike other regular search engines that focus more on the ranking of pages to serve search results to users, Kngine attempts to understand what the user is searching for exactly or what question they are asking, and then tries to come up with the best information, answers and results it can find.

This is done by analyzing the entered keywords to discover the relationships between them, linking the different found data together and then displaying united sets of related information from around the web.

The kinds of information and details provided by the search engine, along with the search results listings, are: Semantic information about the keywords/concepts, direct answers to the entered questions, comparisons between entered keywords/concepts, and possible links between different types of data such as movies, subtitles, photos, store prices, user reviews and more.

Kngine

Kngine, which stands for Knowledge Engine, currently contains over 1 billion of pieces of data, and features about more than 7 million concepts; 70,000+ companies, 700,000+ movies, 1,100,000+ personalties, 450,000+ locations, 150,000+ books, and more. The interface is currently only available in English.

Even though the product is still in beta, it already shows promise in the way it searches, analyzes and returns relevant results; and we expect it to get even better with time as more work is put into its engine.

The search engine was launched from Cairo, Egypt, and founded by Haytham A. Abd ElFadeel, a Computer Science researcher, focused mainly on the semantic web and search, as well as parallel and distributed computing.

According to the founder, the long-term goal for Kngine is to make all human beings systematic knowledge and experience accessible to everyone; collecting and organizing all objective data, and making it easily accessible to everyone.

Taya IT Launches Beta Of Yajeel Content Discovery Portal

| January 14, 2010 – 11:42 am | comment No Comments

YajeelTaya IT, a regional specialist in Enterprise and internet search applications, has announced the beta launch of Yajeel, a new content discovery portal which aims to play the role of an independent gateway to some of the best online content from Arabia.

The portal is in Arabic only, and uses Taya IT’s advanced search technologies to provide Arabic internet users with a new tool to easily discover and share Arabic content online,

Through the Yajeel homepage, users will be able to find the highlights from Arabic content around the web, search through content, as well as navigate through content specific web channels that serve as dedicated portals to the most popular topics available from third-party web publishers. With the beta launch, the only channel available now is a football news service containing the latest news and fixtures from Middle Eastern and international football.

The service also integrates a ranking tool, that allows users to rate the content they view and push it up or down in the listing of “most popular” pages.

Yajeel

The technology behind Yajeel intelligently classifies Arabic internet content, giving users access to a continuously updated stream of relevant web pages categorized according to topics of interest. Users can then customize the stream controlling what they see and how they see it, as well as share content from all web channels with their friends.

The official release is expected to be sometime in February 2010, with a number of new extra features and additional web channels products.

# Yajeel

LiveTweeting, Real-Time Event Coverage With Crowdsourced Translation

| December 9, 2009 – 8:15 pm | comment 1 Comment

LiveTweetingLiveTweeting is a new real-time interactive web application that was launched as a tool for multi-language live coverage of events around the world, based around the popular micro blogging service twitter.

The way it works is that a group of people present at a certain event would tweet their updates covering the event as it happens, while on the other hand a number of multi-lingual twitter users would simultaneously translate and tweet the updates in another language. Both versions, the original and the translation, are aggregated on the LiveTweeting site.

People following the live coverage of the event (both original and translation) on the service are able to vote on the tweets they like by starring them. No user registration is currently required to follow an event’s coverage or to vote on the updates for it.

LiveTweeting

LiveTweeting was officially launched earlier today (Dec 9th 2009), just in time to be able to cover the Le Web 2009 conference in English and have its translation crowdsourced into Arabic.

The idea behind the service was conceived by Samer Karam (Lebanon), developed by Beshr Kayali (Syria) and designed by Maya Zankoul (Lebanon). Everything was put together over the span of one week.

# LiveTweeting

LancersCafe: A New Freelance & Outsourcing Portal For The Arab World

| December 8, 2009 – 11:23 am | comment 6 Comments

LancersCafe.comLancersCafe is a new freelance and outsourcing portal for the Arab world, launched to manage the relation between companies and individuals who need to hire a freelancer to get a job done and the freelancers themselves.

The idea is one that has been applied globally a number of times by sites like RentACoder and Elance. LancersCafe brings the concept to the region.

The idea is pretty simple, a company needs a certain job done but they don’t have the need to hire a full-time employee for it, so they look at contracting someone to do that job for them. On the other hand, you have freelancers, people who take on individual projects, and who are always on the lookout for new projects they can take on to make their living.

LancersCafe aims to be a platform to connect the companies looking for people to take on certain jobs for them with the freelancers looking for those jobs, and to govern the whole relationship between them so that the projects goes as smoothly as possibly, reducing the possibility of any problems arising from either side throughout the project lifecycle.

The service is free for both companies (buyers) and freelancers (providers) to join. The buyers get to post their project for free, listing the skills they need, the timeline for their project, their budget range and other project requirements; Providers can build their profile and portfolio, search for projects and then send in their proposals, that the buyer can review, evaluate and negotiate, before making their choice.

LancersCafe

LancersCafe also offers both buyers and providers special online training courses on the best way to use the system and get their work done online.

The site covers 175 specialties, starting from Data Entry and passing by programming, web design, article writing, graphic design, fashion design and up to Marketing, accountancy, engineering and landscaping and a lot of other professions.

LancersCafe was launched from Egypt, and is open for companies and freelancers from around the Middle East, offering companies the opportunity to get their work done cost-effectively, and freelancers the chance to find projects easily and make more money.

Bayarat, An Arabic Online Media Content Search Engine

| November 11, 2009 – 6:06 pm | comment 5 Comments

BayaratBayarat is a new media search engine that was recently launched in its alpha version catering to the Arab world and aiming to make it easier to search for and find Arabic media content online.

Bayarat is currently only indexing video content from around the web and across online video sharing portals, with plans to add more types of media content in the near future.

A translation layer is integrated into the search engine in order to enable it to search for the same term in Arabic, English, French and Spanish; to broaden the search and return all relevant results.

One of the integrated features to enhance the search experience is an Arabic spell-checker, that suggests corrections for misspelled words that users type into the search box, in order to help them find better results for their searches.

Bayarat

The search engine has already crawled and indexed over 3 Millions videos ever since its launch just about a month ago. The site’s interface is available in both Arabic and English.

Bayarat was created and launched by Monther AbuShaikh, who previously brought us TweetShell, and is also CTO at Ikbis, the popular Arab video and photo sharing service.

Tiba3a, Enabling A Wider Range Of Arabic Fonts Online

| October 31, 2009 – 6:02 pm | comment No Comments

Tiba3aOne of the problems that all web designers face is the limitation of what fonts they can use online, and having to use only the default system fonts that are available with all operating systems.

Arabic is yet another language where web developers suffer from the same problem, even more so because of the beauty of the Arabic script which displays the very artistic side of typography, and because designers are limited to just a few very uninteresting Arabic fonts online.

Tiba3a is a new project that aims to solve the problem of displaying varied and beautiful Arabic fonts online, in an easy and consistent way across all browsers and operating systems, regardless of what fonts are installed on the end user’s system. The fonts are hosted on Tiba3a’s platform and anyone can link to them and use them in an easy and fast way.

The new service is inspired by Typekit, a project that was launched a few months ago to tackle the same issue for Latin fonts.

On a technical level, the service will depend on the new generation of browsers (Safari 3.2.+ – IE 6.0+ – Firefox 3.2 +), that enable designers to link to an external font file. These files will be securely hosted on Tiba3a’s servers with a licensing scheme for websites that want to use them, also protecting the rights of type owners and designers.

Tiba3a is a project of CloudAppers, the Dubai based company that brought us services like UAE Tweets, Twtlens, Txtget and others in the past.

They are currently talking to some of the Arabic type foundries to try and get them on board the project with their fonts, before they roll it out for usage by Arab web designers.

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