Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Kuv Capital Launches Project To Create A Media City In Lebanon (Updated)

| April 5, 2009 – 9:52 am | comment 6 Comments

Lebanon FlagMy friend Hervé Cuviliez, Founder and Managing Director of Kuv Capital just wrote about a great and ambitious new project that they’re launching in Beirut, Lebanon: The creation of a Media City in Lebanon.

This stems out of their belief that Beirut has a window to become a Digital Middle East Hub, and that despite the weak broadband infrastructure, unreliable power grid and Lebanon’s inability to reform itself, it still is a country that offers a great opportunity to entrepreneurs with all the necessary ingredients to create a startup and have a low burn rate.

Creating a company is cheap and easy (limited liability company starts at 3500 USD) and so are office space and expenses. There’s a great pool of talent available, at lower costs than the GCC countries for example.

The idea is to find old warehouses or factories, rehabilitate them into offices with decent broadband and electricity, free spaces for students who want to work on innovative projects, showrooms for high tech companies …etc.

They’ve already started working on the project; they’ve spotted three places around Beirut, talked to investors, convinced six digital related companies and a media group to move in, and they’re still reaching out to more.

The hope is that by doing this, and grouping all these innovative companies and people in one place over time, they will be able to replicate to a certain extent the creation and growth of Silicon Valley.

If you want to be involved in any way or help in growing this project, you can contact Kuv Capital at:

Updated: Kuv Capital released more details on the project on their official blog.
They’re in the process of setting up a company  that will run this project, and will be creating a strategic committee to advise the company on what needs to be done in the Media City.
The timeframe is currently:

  • April-May(-June if needed) will be dedicated to identify potential locations and initiate discussions with landlords.
  • May: First community meeting to brainstorm on services that should be found in the media city.
  • June: second community meeting, presentation and business model finalization.
  • July-september: meetings with investors.
  • October: Go / No Go decision.

More Arabic Websites From The Gulf, But Few Visitors?

| April 5, 2009 – 8:24 am | comment 7 Comments

Arabic websites based in the Gulf are increasing in number but the locals are not using them much, according to experts discussing “Investing in Future Media” at the TMT Finance and Investment 2009 forum that was recently held at Sharq Village hotel in Doha, Qatar.

The opening presentation at the forum expressed concern over the fact that although the number of Arabic websites was increasing, these were rarely visited by those who know the language because they were not satisfied with the contents of the sites.

“This is still an open question,” said Mohamad Murrad, Principal, Vice President and Partner of Booz & Company, when asked if Arabic websites from the region can compete successfully with English websites.

Based on the study explained in the presentation, although there are now more Arabic websites in the region than before, their number is still small compared to that of English websites. Another fact is that most people in the Gulf access the popular sites such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo.

The same study highlighted the growth of the mobile platform, on which it is believed Arabic content can get a market share since 99 percent of the sales in the telecommunications industry are derived from it.

Mobile content is already on the rise and has high penetration in the region but the online network infrastructure for Arabic is still very limited, the study disclosed. It said SMS/MMS-based advertising offerings, although still small, showed strong growth.

Online ads are not very effective in the region, fetching just $2 per user, which is way behind the worldwide average of $27 per user and $59 per user in the United States. “The problem with online ads is very much skeptical, that is how to reach and capture the audience,” said one of the speakers.

[Source: The Peninsula]

Meedan Cross-Language Dialogue Platform Launches Open Beta

| April 4, 2009 – 12:49 am | comment 2 Comments

MeedanMeedan has officially launched its online service into open beta. Meedan is a non-profit social technology company which aims to increase cross-language interaction on the web, with particular emphasis on translation and aggregation services in Arabic and English.

Through its use of Machine Translation (MT), Machine Augmented Translation (MAT), and distributed human translation, Meedan’s goal is to increase dialogue and exchange between Arabic and English speakers primarily by launching a cross-language forum for conversation and media sharing, in an attempt to foster understanding and tolerance between the Arab and Western worlds.

Meedan means ‘gathering place’ or ‘town square’ in Arabic, and it reflects the service that was designed to stand as a digital town square for a linguistically, culturally, and geographically diverse community of Arabic and English speaking Internet users, coming together online to discuss current events taking place all over the world.


Everything that appears on is mirrored in Arabic and English; whether it’s the published headlines, the posted comments, or shared articles; so as to ensure an open two-way conversation.

Meedan was founded by Ed Bice in 2005 and incorporated as a nonprofit charitable organization in 2006.

For more information about the service and to try it out, go to:

Oman Internet Users Spent US$ 236 Million Online In 2008

| March 16, 2009 – 9:14 pm | comment 2 Comments

Flag of OmanA new Arab Advisors‘ survey of Oman’s Internet users revealed that 40.2% of adult Internet users in Oman have used e-commerce services, at more than 158,000 which is around 5.62% of the total population in Oman, spending US$ 236 million in e-commerce transactions in 2008.

The survey of Internet users in Oman was concluded by the Arab Advisors Group on January 29, 2009 and released on March 5th under the title ’Oman Internet Users and E-commerce Survey 2009′.

The survey covered the Internet usage, e-commerce, cellular and Pay TV usage and habits of the online community in Oman. The survey’s online field work was conducted during January 2009.

Respondents were randomly targeted by receiving an email shot in their inbox to ask them to fill the survey in cooperation with Oman’s incumbent telecom operator, Omantel. The survey results encompass answers from 696 respondents that passed Arab Advisor’s quality control checks. The survey was conducted on the general Internet population that is above 18 years of age. Arab Advisors claim the online survey yields a confidence level of 99% with a margin of error of less than 5%.

According to the report, VoIP usage among Internet users reached 27.0%. 20.7% of total respondents use special software packages (Skype, GoogleTalk, etc) to make calls through the Internet. The majority of respondents (73.0%) do not make calls through the Internet.

The Arab Advisors Group divided the survey questionnaire into four main sections: Telecommunications, Internet, e-services and Pay TV.

Berytech Entrepreneurs Forum, BIEL, Lebanon (May 21-22, 2009)

| March 15, 2009 – 7:49 pm | comment No Comments

Berytech Entrepreneurs Forum

Berytech announced the launch of the Berytech Entrepreneurs Forum with the support of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF), to take place on May 21, 22, 2009 at the Pavillon Royal of the Beirut International Exhibition & Leisure Center (BIEL), Lebanon. The event is specifically designed to help existing or aspiring entrepreneurs make contacts, start a business or take an existing business to the next level.

The forum comprises of an exhibition area, free seminars and activities on entrepreneurial best practice from Lebanon’s leading business practitioners as well as International SME experts, providing entrepreneurs with the opportunity to attend presentations and meet with an array of business support institutions.

Mr. Maroun N. Chammas, President of Berytech declared: “The wide range of services and special packages presented will help entrepreneurs become more successful in starting or expanding their enterprises. This will definitely allow them to improve their productivity and connectivity and getting access to finance”.

Several activities will be held during the forum, offering the chance to seek the advice and knowledge of experts tackling specific challenges, such as Branding, Business Law, Business Plan, Business Tax, Cash Flow, Employment, Franchising, Media relations, On-line and Smart Marketing, Raising Finance, Sales Strategies, etc.

Dr. Nicolas Rouhana, Director of Berytech Technology Pole, emphasized: “Entrepreneurs will build a professional network, relevant to all sectors through the networking and business matching activities that we are planning. Investment facilities will also be proposed to selected projects through matching to Angels and VC Funds.”

For more information on exhibitors’ section and visitors’ profile as well as for updates on the event, visit the officiel site here:

Survey: Traffic Transparency Would Help Internet Advertising

| March 13, 2009 – 9:05 pm | comment 5 Comments

Web TrafficA recent survey by the market research company Real Opinions shows that 87% of those involved in advertising or marketing for their organisations in the Middle East said that transparency in website visitor numbers and profiles of visitors would be influential in increasing their usage of the Internet for advertising.

Put into perspective, 58% claim their budgets for marketing and advertising have decreased, but the current economic climate has encouraged them to look online for maximizing their impact, with 37% claiming their interest in the Internet has increased (50% claim no change).

Dan Healy, the CEO of Real Opinions who conducted the survey commented, ‘With decreasing budgets, organisations appear to be looking around for new paradigms in which to conduct their advertising and marketing activities to help them reach their goals. They are looking at the Internet advertising industry and websites to help them justify a new approach.’

‘As the Internet allows users to follow their special interests, websites have the ability to accurately show how unique their visitors are and how it can match an advertiser’s target market they wish to reach with communication. It’s shouldn’t just be how many visitors a website receives, advertisers want to know the profile of these people. This in turn can provide a very cost efficient advertising model for many organisations to achieve the return on investment they seek in this economic climate,’ Dan added.

Submit, The Conference For Middle Eastern Internet Entrepreneurs & Professionals (April 8-9th, 2009)

| February 23, 2009 – 11:12 pm | comment No Comments

Submit Conference

Among all the different conferences and events happening in the Middle East, there are rarely any at all that are dedicated to internet entrepreneurs and professionals; Submit is here to change that.

Submit is a gathering taking place in Dubai’s Habtoor Grand Hotel, on the 8th & 9th of April 2009, for entrepreneurs and professionals involved in the Internet industry in the Middle East.

If you’re involved in running an internet startup, web site, web application or are a professional in the Internet space, this event caters to you. 

The goal of Submit is to kick-start a yearly gathering to get people with a common interest in the internet, building web applications, entrepreneurship, technology, marketing, and design together in one place, in an attempt to share the latest innovations and developments taking place in the Internet industry across the region and the globe.

A number of experts from the International & Middle-East Internet scene will be speaking at the event.

The event is being organized by SpinBits and Argaam; with StartUpArabia as a media partner.

For more information about the event, the speakers and the topics that will be covered; you can check out the official event website here: Submit Conference.

Middle East Online Ad Spend Set To Grow By Up To 35% In 2009

| February 1, 2009 – 5:53 pm | comment 5 Comments

Regional spending on online advertising is expected to grow by 25-35 percent as a result of the downturn, as we witness a greater shift from print to online advertising, according to a study titled “Game Not Over”, that was recently released by global management consultant firm, Booz & Company.

According to Gabriel Chahine, a partner at Booz & Company, “Online advertising is cheaper compared to other mediums such as television and print and is far more targeted. It offers better investment and a better return.”

The report says that around 90 percent of marketers are focused on campaigns that are cross-platform and inclusive of digital media while 80 percent believe insights into consumer’s digital behaviour will become more important to their brands.

Online advertising spending in the GCC-Levant countries remains below 1 percent of the total globally, according to a recent study by Madar Research

Chahine thinks that growth of online advertising is hampered in the Middle East by a lack of supply of regional products and that companies head to Google, Yahoo and Facebook for online advertising because of a lack of compelling offerings from the Arab world.

On the other hand the report states that just 25 percent of marketers consider themselves savvy enough to capitalise on opportunities in online advertising, which I think is the bigger reason why online advertising hasn’t taken off in the region.

The report says that marketers’ key concerns include the efficacy of digital metrics, the need for greater education and new models so they can build a more effective advertising presence online.

[Source: Arabian Business]

Tunisia: Number Of Internet Users Reaches 2.8 Million

| January 29, 2009 – 10:39 pm | comment 2 Comments

TunisiaThe number of internet users has reached nearly 2,8 Million and the ADSL networking rate stands at 11,1 Gigabits per second, said Mrs Lamia Chaffai Sghaier, the Secretary of State in charge of computers and free software at the opening of the first edition of “2009 Technology Days on information systems” (JTSI 2009), which began at the El Ghazala technological park a couple of days ago.

The aim of the event is to offer a space of exchange and reflection to the many economic stakeholders involved in ICT. JTSI 2009 presents a number of case studies, discussion panels and workshops.

The Secretary of State talked about the government’s push to boost ICT among industrial units with a view of increasing their competitiveness and creating employment opportunities; as well as the development of the ADSL basic infrastructure services, through the use of optic fibres, to cover 300 industrial areas.

She also said that the government has launched a program aimed at generalizing the use of the internet within the administration through the creation of specialized computer centres.
The setup of an integrated administrative network is currently underway, she said.

[Source: Tunisia Online News]

DemoCamp Dubai 4 – January 28th 2009 – The Agenda

| January 26, 2009 – 8:12 am | comment 2 Comments

DemoCamp DubaiAs previously announced, the fourth DemoCamp Dubai will be taking place at the Radisson SAS in Dubai Media City on January 28th at 7:30PM.

The following four demos will be taking place at the event:

  • iPhone application: is a real estate portal for the city of Dubai, built by the guys at SpinBits. A new iPhone application was created to make it easier to find properties on the go, get more information about neighborhoods and have access to news.
  • StartUpArabia Database: StartUpArabia will be officially launching StartUpArabia Database, which is a free wiki-based directory of Arab technology startups, entrepreneurs and financial organizations that anyone can edit and enrich.
  • eMapia: An online location based marketplace. Using eMapia, people can browse through countries, cities and neighbourhoods on a map to find businesses/people who added items for sale nearby. 
  • w2task: is a web 2.0 task & time management web based software, where users can register online, create their own business (company) and projects, than attach efforts to them. In return the users will be able to track their own/team efforts and time spent on a particular project (time sheets) and invoice their customers (planned feature).

The format will be the same as the previous events, with the presenters giving 10 minute presentations of their work, with 5 minutes for Q&A.

The presenters will also be available to answer any further questions, receive feedback and share some thoughts after the event.

StartUpArabia will be covering the event live here for those of you who won’t be able to make it, and giving you a chance to ask any questions you might have to the people demoing.

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