Archive for the ‘United Arab Emirates’ Category

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.

Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority To Launch Global Technology Fund

| October 22, 2009 – 11:31 am | comment No Comments

Dubai Silicon Oasis AuthorityDubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), the region’s largest integrated technology park, is planning to launch a global technology fund middle of next year.

“Some of the investments will be from ourselves, some from local and regional investors and also international investors,” said Ray Milhem, the new chief technology officer of technology investment at DSOA.

He said, it will largely target companies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as well as global companies. The fund’s amount has not been finalised yet.

The fund is another means to attract research and development and manufacturing companies to set up a base in Dubai Silicon Oasis. And they are already talking to a number of companies to establish manufacturing in Dubai Silicon Oasis, with a concentration on start-ups.

Even though the focus is on the Middle East and North Africa, there are some start-ups in Europe and North America that they are looking at for potential investments, in order to get them to open higher-engineering offices in Dubai Silicon Oasis.

Earlier, the authority announced a budget of Dh25 billion set aside for investment in the coming years at DSOA. The whole project has already attracted foreign investments worth Dh1.4 billion. It has set aside about Dh500 million to invest in start-ups that will be spent over the next five years.

Additionally, private investment into real estate at DSOA is Dh13 billion, while Dh10 billion is budgeted for the third phase of the project’s development.

According to Milhem, the authority is in talks with several companies and should be making some decisions and announcing some deals soon.

[Source: Gulf News]

Twofour54 Ibtikar Launches Creative Lab Media Industry Grant Fund For Young Arabs

| October 19, 2009 – 10:27 am | comment 1 Comment

twofour54twofour54 ibtikar, the media industry funding and support pillar of twofour54 Abu Dhabi, has launched twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab, a grant funding scheme aimed at engaging with young Arabs and stimulating creativity in order to build a long term sustainable media industry in the Arab world.

twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab offers grant funding and business support to talented Arab individuals from the UAE and across the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, helping great media and entertainment ideas that would benefit from seed funding, development guidance and planning to get off the ground.

It offers funds ranging from US$1,000 to US$50,000 for creative and original ideas across all media platforms including television, radio, film, publishing, online, mobile, music, gaming and animation.

twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab and young Arab funding recipients will engage in regular brainstorming sessions to develop ideas into fully fledged creative projects. A key part of this collaborative process will include budget creation and training in project execution and support throughout.

Tarek Ghattas, twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab manager, added: “We want people to come forward with their media and entertainment ideas. We are looking for passion and originality and there is no such thing as a bad idea. This is an opportunity for young Arabs to unleash their inner creativity and have a go at turning vision into reality – coming to us means never having to look back and wonder what you could have been.”

twofour54 ibtikar: creative lab expands twofour54 ibtikar’s funding portfolio, which also includes ibtikar ventures, an investment fund that focuses on start-up and early stage media and entertainment initiatives.

Nahel.com, A New UAE Online Shopping Destination

| September 19, 2009 – 5:45 pm | comment 9 Comments

nahelIn an Arab internet scene where e-commerce remains largely untapped, Nahel.com from Dubai is a very welcome addition, with a very big goal: to establish itself as a prime B2C online retailer.

They’ve worked on building an inventory of thousands of new brand-name products covering several categories, from electronics, to games to perfumes, watches and clothing. They source products from wholesalers and distributors in order to be competitive in terms of selection, quality and prices.

The idea behind Nahel.com was conceived back in 2007, with its original business plan born as the first place winner in the University of Toronto’s Business Plan Competition.

Over the past 2 years Nahel sold products through other existing online markets, like Souq.com, and were involved in all aspects of selling products online. After building the experience and community, Nahel went a step further, and launched its independent e-commerce portal, offering a full e-commerce experience to its clients, from the moment they log on to the website all the way to post-sale services.

Nahel.com

To make it as easy as possible for people to pay for items they buy on Nahel, several payment methods are provided: from Cash on delivery, to credit cards, PayPal and Nahel gift certificates.

Nahel.com was founded by Saeid Hejazi, and was officially launched in July 2009 from Dubai, UAE. It currently only covers the UAE, although there are plans to expand to the GCC region and maybe the whole Middle East in the future.

Twestival Local 2009 Events Around The Arab World

| September 11, 2009 – 8:46 pm | comment No Comments

Twestival LocalA number of Arab cities will be hosting Twestival Local events in the coming days, part of the 200 Twestival Local events taking place in leading cities around the world between the 10th and 13th of September 2009, based around the social media service Twitter, and using its power to support local causes.

Twestival is run 100% by volunteers and independently from any not-for-profit; although the organizing teams do work closely to outline an achievable and measurable fundraising target.

Here’s a list of the Twestival Local events taking place around the Arab world, with details about when and where they’ll be held as well as the local causes they’re supporting:

Dubai Twestival Local:
When: Saturday, September 12th 2009 at 8pm
Where: The Jam Jar Gallery in Al Quoz, Dubai, UAE
Supported local cause: Dubai Autism Center
Twitter: @DubaiTwestival
Site: http://dubai.twestival.com

Abu Dhabi Twestival Local:
When: Sunday, September 13th 2009 at 8pm
Where: Ramadan tent of Le Royal Meridien hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE
Supported local cause: Future Centre for Special Needs
Twitter: @ADTwestival
Site: http://abudhabi.twestival.com

Beirut Twestival Local:
When: Sunday, September 13th 2009 at 4pm
Where: Rawda/Chatila Cafe in Beirut, Lebanon
Supported local cause: IndyAct
Twitter: @TwestivalBeirut
Site: http://beirut.twestival.com

Amman Twestival Local:
When: Sunday, September 13th 2009 at 9pm
Where: Al Hashemeyyen Theater, Royal Scientific Society in Amman, Jordan
Supported local cause: Al-Aman Fund for the Future of the Orphans
Twitter: @AmmanTwestival
Site: http://amman.twestival.com

Twestival Local is a great opportunity for people to connect with other members of the community, and give them a chance to feel they are contributing to a larger social initiative on top of it all.

Dubai Twestival Local 2009, Jam Jar Gallery, September 12th ’09

| September 7, 2009 – 10:26 am | comment 1 Comment

Dubai Twestival Local 2009Dubai will be hosting Dubai Twestival Local on this coming Saturday, one of the 200 Twestival Local events taking place in leading cities around the world, based around the social media service Twitter, using its power to support local causes.

Dubai Twestival Local (@dubaitwestival) aims to raise money and awareness for Dubai Autism Center, a non-profit organisation Founded in November 2001, set-up to help integrate children with autism into the community and raise social awareness for autism.

Dubai Twitter users, or ‘tweeps’ as they call themselves, will converge on The Jam Jar gallery in Al Quoz on Saturday 12 September 2009 to meet other members of the Twitter community and support Dubai Autism Center (@dubaiautism) at an informal networking event sponsored by Nokia (@nokconv), ShopandShip.com (powered by Aramex, @shopnship) and Nahel.com (@naheldotcom).

“We’re delighted to have been able to organise Dubai Twestival Local during the holy month of Ramadan, since giving is at the core of the Twestival concept and is the reason that the event has been given such fantastic support from volunteers and sponsors,” said Prashant K. Gulati (@pkgulati), one of the co-organisers of the Dubai Twestival. “We’re proud to support Dubai Autism Centre, since, sadly, recognition for autism and understanding those that suffer from the condition and their families is still very low worldwide. We hope that the Twestival will make a worthwhile contribution to autism awareness in the Emirates.”

The Emirates’ Twitter community has grown rapidly since the service was unblocked by the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) last year and about 6,000 are currently estimated to use the service in the Emirates, up from just 500 Twitter users at the time of the first Dubai Twestival in February of this year! Global usage of Twitter grew by 1,460 percent over the past year and the micro-blogging platform now boasts 44.5 million users (according to Comscore, June 2009).

The Twestival is organized 100% by volunteers and 100% of the money raised by these events goes directly to charities. Twestival events are also being organised around the Middle East, with events taking place in Abu Dhabi, UAE; Amman, Jordan; Doha, Qatar; and Beirut, Lebanon.

Hopes are that Dubai Twestival Local will build on the success of February’s Twestival Global networking event which helped both raise awareness for Twitter in the UAE and for Charity: Water.

Twitter users who wish to attend Dubai Twestival Local should follow @dubaitwestival for daily updates on the event, and can register to attend at the official site: Dubai Twestival Local.

Quirkat Launches New Music Playing Game ‘Al-Moosiqar’

| September 6, 2009 – 9:21 pm | comment 3 Comments

Al-MoosiqarQuirkat, the Middle Eastern game development studio announced today the launch of its newest online game ‘Al-Moosiqar’ (The Musician), through the company’s online Arabic/English Games Portal, Fuzztak.

‘The Musician’ offers players the chance to reconnect with one of Oriental music’s greatest instruments: The ‘Oud’ or lute as it is more commonly known in the West. The player controls the in-game Musician’s movements to play back classical Oud pieces.

Using a set of intuitive controls, the user can help the in-game Musician hit notes and strum according to the flow of notes on the screen. The Oudist’s facial expressions indicate the success of the playback and successful consecutive notes improve score through multipliers.

‘The Musician’ pretty much follows the same concept as the very successful Guitar Hero franchise, but bringing it to the web and for an Arabic instrument.

Al-MoosiqarAl-Moosiqar

Mahmoud Ali Khasawneh, Quirkat’s CEO, says: “Al-Moosiqar is yet another demonstration of our commitment to building unique gaming experiences generating from our culture and heritage. The Oud is the most important Arab instrument and is nicknamed the Prince of the Instruments. We consider it part of our mission at Quirkat to bring such proud Arab achievements to the gaming world. We hope Al-Moosiqar will provide regional gamers with a unique game experience.”

According to Ms Candide Kirk, Quirkat’s CTO, ”Al Moosiqar builds a community layer on top of the existing Fuzztak gamer user base and allows registered users on Fuzztak to upload and annotate their own original musical pieces to the game world for other users to play back — thus the game transforms into a Music Portal of old time favorites and Oud classics, as well as original content from within the user base.”

Quirkat is a Dubai-based company with development studios in Amman, Jordan.

UAE Based Startup Sphere Networks To Be Acquired By Major Taiwanese Manufacturer

| September 3, 2009 – 9:22 am | comment 6 Comments

Sphere NetworksSphere Networks is currently in acquisition talks with a major Taiwanese manufacturer to sell off the majority of the company, including the intellectual property rights to its network management software technology, supporting research and development team.

Sphere Networks is a developer of enterprise-level network management solutions, that allow organizations to monitor and control thousands of nodes at any one time.

The name of the acquiring company hasn’t been disclosed, but Mohamed Hamedi, CEO and founder of Sphere Networks said that the potential buyer is “the largest OEM hardware manufacturer for networking equipment” in Taiwan. It produces switches, routers, access points and similar products mainly for other vendors, but now wants to start shifting to producing its own-brand products.

After the official announcement Sphere Networks will be fully folded into the acquiring company, including its IP, technology and supporting technical team of 20 employees. It is expected that staff working in sales and human resources will be cut as a result of the process though.

The company was launched in 2005 by Mohamed Hamedi, a Libyan national who moved from the US to Dubai to start the company and personally bankrolled it, until Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority invested in the startup in 2006, and then another investment by Intel Capital followed in 2008. The values of both of those investments were not disclosed.

As part of an earn out agreement, Hamedi should continue to work with Sphere Networks for up to 18 months following the deal.

[Source: ITP]

Google Launches Four New Arabic Editions Of Google News

| September 2, 2009 – 1:05 pm | comment 2 Comments

Google News EgyptGoogle just announced the launch of four new Arabic editions of Google News for Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Users in these countries can now access Google News editions specific to their country and get the latest headlines in topics such as Politics, Business, Sports, Entertainment and more.

This is part of Google’s ongoing push to provide local services and more relevant information and news for users, starting with these four countries that represent more than 24 million Arabic-speaking internet users.

Google News

Like all Google News editions, these computer-generated Arabic editions aggregate headlines from thousands of news outlets around the world, group similar stories together and link directly to the original sources that publish these stories. This enables users to search for topics they’re interested in, and read a wide variety of perspectives from different sources.

It seems there are plans by Google to continue rolling out more local editions for the rest of the Arab countries in the near future.

Twtlens: An Easy Way To Create Your Own Twitter Aggregator

| August 30, 2009 – 12:34 pm | comment 2 Comments

twtlensTwtlens is a new service that allows you to create your own twitter aggregator (or lens as they call it) around any group or community of users that have something in common (location, work, interests, passions, etc.), as a means to have direct access to the community pulse, and tap into what’s on their minds at any given moment.

twtlens is built on the same platform powering UAE Tweets, that was previously reviewed here, enabling you to create similar views of Twitter for your own groups and communities; customizing it with your own logo, color scheme and background image.

To create a lens of your own all you’ll have to do is have a twitter account that follows everyone within the community you want to aggregate tweets from, and then go through the quick sign up process on twtlens.

Each created lens will then aggregate all tweets from the community in one interface, make those tweets searchable, extract trending topics (words and #hashtags) from the tweets, extract the most popular shared links by the community, and list the new links that are being shared by them.
Search results and trends can be made available through RSS feeds too.

twtlens

Twtlens which was developed by Dubai-based CloudAppers, is still in Alpha (with limited testing slots open at this moment), and the team are working on adding more features in the form of widgets that twtlens creators can add or remove at will.

This service is currently available for free, but according to CloudAppers, a paid model is in the works and should be unveiled soon.

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