Archive for the ‘Search’ Category

Folowen Releases Public Beta With New Features

| June 23, 2009 – 2:08 pm | comment 3 Comments

folowenFolowen, the social media search tool that aggregates social profiles of people and organization’s on several social media sites into one search result, and that was previously covered here, has just gone into public beta.

The tool makes it easier for users to follow a person or organization’s social web; be it a Facebook profile, page, group, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile, a YouTube channel …etc.

Currently, folowen uses Google AJAX Search API to find user profiles in 20 social media sites.

A number of new features have been introduced with this public beta, based on the feedback received from the private beta users, among them are:

- Search is now open without sign up.

- Search results will list up to 4 links for each service for you to browse through to find the account you want to follow.

- Direct Follow: It is now possible for you to directly follow the person/organization you searched for directly from the search results page. This feature is currently enabled for only four services (Twitter, YouTube, FriendFeed and Facebook) that you need to connect folowen to from your Settings/Direct Follow page.


Folowen, A New Social Media Search Tool (Private Beta Invites)

| May 31, 2009 – 9:54 am | comment 17 Comments

folowenfolowen is a new social media search tool that just went live in private beta and enables users to search for the social profiles of different people and organizations on several social media sites, returning all found profiles in one search result.

The aim is to make it simpler for anyone to find and follow a person or organization’s social activities online, be it a Facebook profile, page or group; a Twitter account; a LinkedIn profile; a YouTube channel …etc.

Currently, folowen uses Google AJAX Search API to find  user profiles on 19 different social media sites including three Arab ones: Questler, Ikbis and Watwet.

Search is only the first piece in the bigger puzzle that folowen wants to build, and this ongoing private beta is concentrated on perfecting that to make sure that users are getting the right results for their searches. Once out of private beta, the search will be open to anyone without any need to sign up for the service. 

Signed up users also have the possibility of having their search history saved automatically so that they can go back to them and view their results at any time.

The next step after search will be to enable signed up users to link up folowen into some of the supported social services to be able to follow/connect right from folowen without having to go to that service. This obviously will only be available for services that have APIs that are open and allow this.


folowen doesn’t aim to be another social network now, or a social activity aggregator, just a facilitator to help people find and connect to each other over several platforms.

folowen is founded by the same team Jordan-based team that was behind Questler: Razan Khatib, Alma Khasawnih and Hassan Shahin.

If you’re interested in getting an invite to play around with folowen, just drop a little comment below and I’ll send you one as soon as possible.

Damrej, A New Local Thematic Web Search Engine

| April 13, 2009 – 11:43 am | comment 2 Comments

DamrejDamrej is a newly launched thematic search engine developed to make it easier for users to look for different items they want to buy online, special offers, cars, properties, jobs and more.

Damrej takes a local approach, and has been launched for Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Egypt for the time being; with versions for the UAE and other countries to follow soon.

The services’ robots crawl different websites from the country building its indexes of shopping catalogs, jobs, real estate offers, cars and other types of classified ads; making them all searchable from one central point. The results provide some collected details about the item and point to the original website where the item or offer can be found.

Some merchants or classifieds services also provide an updated feed directly to Damrej to make it even easier to index their content and provide through the search engine.

Users can search by theme, narrow their search by using theme-specific filters, and get results from one or all online services depending on their choice. Related offers are also served up next to the items found through the search.


Zaad, A Specialized Palestinian Directory Search Engine

| April 2, 2009 – 2:26 pm | comment 1 Comment


Zaad is a local Palestinian directory search engine that serves up search results from specialized databases, currently covering the Palestinian private sector and NGO sector databases.

Zaad enables users to enter information about their company or association directly to the site’s database, and update it as frequently as they need to. Details submitted to the search engine are confirmed through phone by the Zaad team to make sure all data in their database is accurate.

The service aims to build national databases for several sectors, expanding soon to hotels, restaurants, health centres, and more; positioning itself as an easy entry point to search for and find any type of business or organization in Palestine.

An integrated text advertising solution will be launched in a few days, that will enable advertisers to buy text ads to be displayed with the search results, targeted by category and language, with geo-targeting to be added soon.

The service went live earlier this month, and is available in both Arabic and English.

Zaad is a project of Sadaf Technology Development, a Palestinian web development company based in Gaza.


Yamli Launches New Smart Arabic Search Engine Features

| December 16, 2008 – 12:10 am | comment 8 Comments

Yamli Search

Yamli, the startup based in Cambridge, MA, that is funded by ex-Googlers, and that specializes in smart transliteration technologies for the Arabic Web, just unveiled its new search engine that allows users to easily search Arabic content in all its forms.

Various studies show that transliterated Arabic content is ubiquitous due to a large portion of Arabic internet users choosing to write Arabic phonetically using Latin characters in an ad-hoc and informal fashion. Yamli automatically expands Arabic keyword searches to include all of their transliterated variations and returns results for both Arabic and transliterated content. This feature is a breakthrough for Arabic Internet users who are frustrated with having to repeatedly search different variations of their query when searching for music, news or videos.

According to co-founder Habib Haddad, “The challenge with Arabic content is that it’s hard to reach all of it. For example, a simple search for ‘Umm Khulthum’, the famous Egyptian signer, has over 90 transliterated variations – Om Kaltoum, Oum Kalsoum, etc…. Yamli will take an Arabic search term and expand it to include all transliterated variations, returning the maximum number of relevant search results, regardless of whether Arabic or Latin characters were used to write the content. Prior to Yamli, that kind of search was not possible,” concluded Haddad.

Yamli comes with a rich and easy-to-use interface that has been optimized for slower connections. Under the hood, Yamli uses APIs from proven search engines such as Google, Microsoft Live Search and YouTube. Yamli Search also includes Yamli’s award-winning Editor that allows users to type Arabic without an Arabic keyboard.

According to one of the early ex-Googlers Georges Harik, “The web is universal, and speakers of every language should get equal access to information. Yamli continues to do a great job of extending access to information to all Arabic speakers,” concluded Georges Harik who is also an investor in Yamli.

Yamli’s new search engine was first announced at Harvard Business School’s MENA Conference on Saturday, December 4th during a panel discussion on Entrepreneurship in the MENA region in which co-founder Habib Haddad participated.

StartUpArabia got access to test Yamli’s new expanded search features early on, and got to follow the development of the product up until today’s official release; and what truly stands out is how helpful and time-saving the service really is, how simply it is integrated in the interface, and how fast it all actually works.

You can try the new Yamli Search for yourself at

And here’s a little demo video demonstrating how the new search features work.

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.

Ayna Organizes “Ya Hala Ramadan” Competition

| August 30, 2008 – 12:53 pm | comment 2 Comments

AynaOne of the main challenges Arab search engines face is driving users to try out their service and then convert them into regular users. With Ramadan just a couple of days away, Ayna is trying to lure Arab internet users to its search engine through a Ramadanesque competition.

During the holy month of Ramadan, “Ayna” is organizing a religious and cultural competition called “Ya Hala Ramadan”, and offering valuable prizes for winners.

Participants can search Ayna to find the answer for a multiple-choice question asked daily throughout the period of Ramadan. The competition is only available in Arabic language.

Participants in the competition should meet the following conditions:

  • Have a registered user account at “Ayna”.
  • Be a resident of one of the Arab countries.
  • Participate in the competition once daily and choose only one answer.

The winner of the competition is the one answering correctly the highest number of answers. In a multi-winner scenario, a draw will take place to choose the winner.

Valuable prizes will be awarded to winners; from round-trip plane tickets, to digital cameras and frames, to MP3 players and USB devices.

The competition begins on the first day of the month of Ramadan and lasts for the whole month; the names of the winners will be announced on the 8th of October 2008 and notified later by email.

Those wishing to participate have to visit “Ayna’s” competition page.

Ayna Launches Beta Of Online Map Service for the Middle East & North Africa

| July 29, 2008 – 12:27 pm | comment 11 Comments

AynaA few days ago, Arab search engine Ayna launched a beta version of Ayna Maps, a service that provides interactive maps of places and businesses for all major Arab capitals in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Ayna is one of the first Arabic search engines in the region, and now aims to grow its search services by providing more types of information like its new street level map service covering 26 cities in 17 countries and presented in Arabic and English.

Ayna maps aims to provide detailed street level mapping that is not available through any other online service, including Google, Yahoo, and MapQuest; in order to give businesses and individuals alike the possibility to easily locate and add points of interest. As of the launch, Ayna Maps are preloaded with over fifty thousand searchable points of interest available in Arabic, English and French to meet the needs of local audiences.

Businesses will be able to mark their physical location on a map to guide their customers, and easily embed the marked map in any web site along with their contact details, such as name, address, phone, email, and a descriptive summary.

Doha Ayna Map

Cities covered by Ayna maps include: Beirut (Lebanon); Damascus (Syria); Baghdad (Iraq); Amman, Aqaba (Jordan); Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Madina (Saudi Arabia); Kuwait City (Kuwait); Doha (Qatar); Manama (Bahrain); Dubai, Abu Dhabi (UAE); Muscat (Oman); Sanaa (Yemen); Cairo, Alexandria, Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurguda (Egypt); Khartoum (Sudan); Tripoli (Libya); Tunis (Tunisia); Algiers (Algeria); Rabat, Marrakech (Morocco).

Ayna Maps future releases include providing routing and directions, updating map data, and publishing submitted points of interest for businesses in the region. A mobile version of the map service will also be launched soon.

The idea is a very useful one and really needed in the region, and for an initial beta release it is pretty good; Hopefully future versions will have more detailed and revised maps, with more integrated points of interest.

# Ayna Maps

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