, A Global Search Engine Focused On Innovation

| Jul 14, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

globalvations.comMultilingual Global Marketing (MGM), a global consulting firm, just announced the launch, a new search engine specifically focused on global innovations.

The search engine was founded by Malik Laibi, an Algerian entrepreneur currently based in Australia, and developed by SearchChannel, LLC of Oak Brook, Illinois. It currently indexes and categorizes thousands of highly relevant sites that deliver valuable information focused on the world of innovation, aiming to connect its visitors to new technologies, innovative companies, products and business opportunities throughout the world.

The simplistic interface allows visitors to search for editorials and news about a certain topic and industry or to look for startups, with the possibility to choose a specific industry of interest or to search across all industries.
The search results page is very straightforward, offering a listing of what was found and linking out to the respective sites and pages containing the information.

Explaining the idea behind the project, Malik Laibi says that “Working with clients internationally, we found the pace of change in the global marketplace speeds up every single day. With new technologies being introduced so rapidly, and with economies changing across the world, staying up to date on innovation is increasingly difficult. We saw an opportunity to create a global information tool in our search portal, For the user, we answer swiftly and directly one simple question: ‘What are the most cutting-edge business and technology innovations that I should know about?’”

SearchChannel president William Furlong makes the point that “ offers only very specific, innovations-oriented content. Users stay up to date on what they’re truly looking for: research, current news, upcoming conferences, and the actual technologies constantly turned out by the most reputable global businesses and institutions,” and continued that they are “expressly excited about what this tool can do for entrepreneurs, business executives, scientists, government officials, academics, or just for the curious mind!”

Malik Laibi shared his plans to establish a base in the MENA region for, and that he is currently looking for suitable partners in the region.


Google Friend Connect Now Available In Arabic

| Jul 14, 2009 | comment 2 Comments

Google Friend ConnectGoogle Friend connect, the online service by Google that allows users on the internet to connect with their friends on different websites, and aiming to expand the notions of social networking throughout the web, has just announced that the service is now available in Arabic, in addition to another 46 languages.

According to Google, over 5 million sites are currently using Google Friend Connect to connect and build their communities, and this step aims to make it easier for site owners who prefer to use other languages than English to implement the system on their sites and take advantage of it.

The main Google Friend Connect site is now available in all the newly added languages, making the setup of sites easier for webmasters more comfortable with those languages; and through the interface webmasters can specify the language of their site, and have most Google-created gadgets they’ll be using automatically rendered in that language.

Other than Arabic, Friend Connect is now also available in Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Latvian, Lingala, Lithuanian, Malay, Malayalam, Marathi, Norwegian, Oriya, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

For more details or to start using the service, check out:

Developers working on OpenSocial applications and gadgets for Friend Connect can check out the documentation on localizing OpenSocial applications.

Iconty: An Arabic Search Engine For Website Icons

| Jul 12, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

IcontyIconty is a new niche Arabic search engine, specifically created for web designers and developers, to provide them with an easy way to search for and find icons to use for certain functions on the websites they are building.

Iconty aims to be a central repository for icons, where users can come and search for icons using Arabic keywords, or even English ones, to find the ones best suited for their needs.

Users can sign-up to the service for free and start uploading  their own icons to share on the site so that other people can download and use them as well.

Users can add icons individually through a simple form where they specify the file, the owner and the tags; or upload a zip file with a whole icon set, and then input the details for each icon.


Iconty is still in beta; work on it started in February 2009 by a team of three family members: Mahmoud, Mohamed and Alia Rida. The team are currently working on enhancing the organization of the platform and how icon result sets are displayed, as well as making it even easier for users to find icons.

# Iconty

Twatweet & TN Labs: Following Tunisians On Twitter

| Jul 8, 2009 | comment 2 Comments

Over the past year, Twitter has taken off in Tunisia, much like everywhere else in the world, with more and more users getting on board every day, and it becoming a source for instant information and news about what’s going on in the country.

To make it easier to follow tweets coming out of Tunisia, two projects have surfaced to aggregate tweets from Tunisian twitter users: Twatweet and TN Labs.

TwatweetTwatweet is based on WordPress and uses FeedWordpress and the Twitter API to aggregate tweets from Tunisian users being followed by the @twatweet user. Users who want to be included in the aggregator can follow @twatweet which will follow them back if they’re Tunisian, and users who don’t want to be included can simply block the @twatweet user.

The service uses a theme that matches Twitter’s design so as to keep the experience quite similar.

Twatweet also includes a search engine that enables users to search among tweets by Tunisian users.

Twatweet was founded by Jazem Halioui (@jazinthecity) and Houeida Anouar (@Houeida), and currently aggregates 217 active users.

TNLabsTN Labs, on the other hand, was developed on a Java/JSP backend using Twitter’s streaming API to aggregate tweets in realtime from Tunisian twitter users, automatically updating the timeline.
Users are added by the founder of the service, and have to contact him to be added or removed.

Some of the other features it has is that a preview of links that are posted in tweets are displayed whenever possible, by hovering on the icon next to the link; and hash tags link to their respective search pages on Twitter (not to TN Labs’ own search).

As for search on TN Labs, although it allows for realtime search, it is on all of Twitter not just on tweets from Tunisian users.

An interesting new addition is the possibility to view discussions, with an icon at the end of a certain tweet, opening up a layer with the original tweet and the different replies that followed around it by different users.

TN Labs has a rougher design as the focus has been more on experimenting with features than the overall design.
TN Labs was founded by Sami Ben Romdhane (@samiTunis), and currently aggregates around 237 active users.

Both services provide links to redirect users to the Twitter interface to retweet or reply to a certain tweet; a list of the active Tunisian users they’re following, allowing people either to hover or click through for more details about each user; as well as RSS feeds for updates from Tunisians users.

Twatweet and TN Labs are both still early stage projects, and I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more development happening on both fronts.

Jawaker Launches Campaign Management Tool For Advertisers

| Jul 7, 2009 | comment 3 Comments

JawakerJawaker, the online multiplayer card games website that was previously reviewed here, and whose co-founder Mohamad Haj Hasan was interviewed here, has introduced a new feature called the Jawaker Campaigner.

Jawaker’s approach to serving ads on its cards games platform has been an interesting and different once from the beginning, with them choosing to move away from the traditional advertising options and coming up with what they call “Cost per Hand” (CPH for short).

The idea is that every CPH credit displays an ad (which consists of branding the back of all the cards on the table, branding the table cloth and a small text ad on the right side of the page with a target link) to the player for an entire round (or “hand”) of play.

Their ad server has been in place for some time now and they have been tweaking it and enhancing it so as to reach a point when they can open it up to potential advertisers to log in and create their own targeted advertising campaigns on Jawaker.
The result of these efforts is Jawaker Campaigner which does just that; enabling advertisers to create their campaigns and choose to target their ads based on: Country, Gender, Age and Time of Day.

Jawaker Campaigner

Advertisers can state the maximum number of hands to serve per day, write their ad text and target URL (in both Arabic and English) and upload their ad images. Jawaker will then approve the campaign and start serving the ads. The advertiser can freeze or delete the campaign whenever they want and can add as many campaigns as they like.

Jawaker automatically deducts credits from the advertiser’s total CPH credits as soon as an ad is served on a hand to the target audience. The advertiser will also be able to see statistics on their campaign such as how many impressions were served, how many clicks their ad got and their average implied click-through rate.

Currently, advertisers need to contact Jawaker in order to get an account and purchase credits, but an automatic sign-up and online credit purchase system should be rolled out soon.

Beeyoot, A New UAE Real Estate Property Listing Portal

| Jul 2, 2009 | comment 8 Comments

BeeyootBeeyoot is a new real estate listings website for the UAE, that was just launched into public beta, and which aims to connect property sellers directly to buyers and renters.

With the current downturn in the real estate market in the country, you’d think this wouldn’t really be best of times to launch a new real estate portal; but Beeyoot believes otherwise and are sure that their model putting property owners and buyers or sellers directly in touch with each other, without any intermediaries, creates room for a new momentum in the distressed real estate industry.

Beeyoot’s platform aims to help buyers and renters save on property searching costs by providing them with a free service, while enabling sellers or landlords to list their properties for a modest fee (AED 50 / USD $15 per month for the basic package), with the benefit of dealing with buyers and renters directly.

More advanced packages for users who want their properties featured more prominently and investors who have multiple properties are also available.


The interface was designed to be simple and usable, in the same time providing users with quite a rich set of functionalities and filters to find what they’re looking for.

The portal’s services are currently exclusive to the UAE market, however they are planning to franchise the platform to other GCC countries.

The service is currently in beta, and is for a limited time allowing free basic property listings.

Beeyoot also has a blog called ‘The Glasshouse’ which will be featuring relevant information articles about the real estate in the UAE by industry specialists.

Microsoft Maren: A New Windows Arabic Transliteration Tool

| Jul 1, 2009 | comment 19 Comments

Microsoft MarenMicrosoft has gone on and launched a new application called ‘Maren‘, making its entrance into the Arabic transliteration space.

Microsoft Maren was developed to be a Windows extension that allows you to type Arabic in Roman characters (Romanized Arabic, Arabizi, Arabish or Franco-Arabic) and have it converted on the fly to Arabic script. Maren integrates seamlessly with Windows and works in most Windows applications and websites.

Users around the Arab world widely use romanized Arabic in instant messaging and on social networking sites, and Microsoft’s Maren is following in the footsteps of Yamli and Google’s Ta3reeb in offering these users the possibility to have whatever text they type converted into Arabic.

Up to this point Yamli has been the user favorite in the region, with a number of portals integrating their service, a Firefox toolbar extension that many people were glad to get and even an unofficial Yamli extension called Arabzi that exists for MSN Messenger. Yamli also uses its transliteration technology as a basis to enrich and provide better Arabic search online.

Microsoft MarenWhat Microsoft’s Maren offers as a plus is the possibility to integrate the transliteration technology into Windows, and use it everywhere, not just online through a browser; so basically users can use Maren while typing in a Word document or on Instant Messenger or any other Windows application.

The fact that the tool is installed on the user’s machine also means that the solution is available to the user even when he’s offline, and it could even be a bit faster than other solutions that have to send requests back to a server.

It should be really interesting to see how much user adoption Maren will get, but however that works out, this is quite a good effort from Microsoft.

Microsoft Maren was developed by the Cairo Microsoft Innovation Center (CMIC), a Microsoft group representing the company interest in applied research and development initiatives in the Middle East and Africa.

Microsoft Maren

Update: I talked to Habib Haddad, co-founder of Yamli, a bit after the publication of this story, and he commented “I guess big companies recognize a good idea when they see it, as an Arabic startup we are flattered to see this happen. As you know our focus has always been on the user so stay tuned for new releases from Yamli.”, Egyptian Web 2.0 Automotive Portal

| Jul 1, 2009 | comment Leave a comment is an online automotive portal, that aims to offer its users a complete and comprehensive web experience that enables them to manage all tasks related to their car and speed up all related processes for buying, selling or simply maintaining a car.

Through the portal, users can add and list their cars in the system and keep track of their maintenance history, having the service remind them of upcoming maintenance tasks they have to do for their car.

The site also enables people to search for cars to buy, or on the other hand, create ads to sell their own cars; making it an online marketplace for cars as well. Car dealerships can also use the service to list their available cars for sale on this online marketplace.

The interface was designed to be easy to use and to make it as simple as possible for online users to learn and manage everything throughout their car ownership lifecycle through various applications designed to satisfy the user’s current and future automotive needs. was founded by Omar Soudodi, who previously founded now-defunct, and developed by Egyptian web company eSpace. The site has a dedicated management team from various backgrounds, such as investment banking, technology, marketing, and product development. was launched at the 14th International African Arabian Exhibition for Vehicles, buses, and Automobile spare parts, Automech 2009; and were one of the participating demos in DemoCamp Cairo last month.

The portal is currently only targeted at users in Egypt only, and is in English, with an Arabic version following soon.

MENA 100 Business Plan Competition: A Call For Arab Innovative Entrepreneurs

| Jun 27, 2009 | comment 5 Comments

MENA 100The MENA 100 Business Plan Competition, which is organized by the MENA-OECD Enterprise Financing Network, in cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank and the MENA Center for Investment, has just been launched.

The primary objective of the MENA 100 business plan competition is to encourage existing and inspire potential entrepreneurs and connect the 100 best of them in the Middle East and North Africa region with potential sources of finance to generate business transactions.

The MENA 100 Competition addresses innovative entrepreneurs, from the 18 Arab countries participating in the MENA OECD Investment Program (Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen).

What entrepreneurs can expect from the competition:

  • Connect with counterparts from around the region and worldwide to conceive new ideas, enter new markets and find new resources.
  • Exposure for the winners through the awards ceremony and the media.
  • Connection to a network of professionals providing technical support and offering financial and in-kind support to candidates.

Applications will be accepted until August 31st. It is possible to apply online in French and English through the website:

The 100 finalists will have the opportunity to present their projects at an event in Manama (Bahrain).
There will be one winner per country and a selection of three regional winners.

The top performers will be awarded with cash and in-kind services, representing professional services donated by sponsors of the competition, as well as MENA business angels (BA) – venture capital funds (VC) for all participants.
Winners will also be invited to participate in the MENA-OECD Business Day.

[Via: Mohd Khawaja]

Folowen Releases Public Beta With New Features

| Jun 23, 2009 | 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.

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