Argaam Opens Up To Contributions Through Alpha Beta

| Jun 7, 2009 | comment 1 Comment

Alpha BetaArgaam, the Arabic financial portal, has just launched Alpha Beta, a section of the portal for informed visitors to contribute through posting their analysis of news and events taking place in the market, as well as any information that they might have that isn’t necessarily common knowledge to everyone interested in the stock market and economy in general.

Alpha Beta is open for direct contributions in the form of articles, news, opinions, analysis about regional or worldwide stock markets, investment opportunities; as well as comments and followup on articles published on the portal.

Argaam hope to create a vibrant open environment for discussion and sharing of new ideas, enabling the portal’s visitors to connect, interact and exchange opinions and information that will help enrich and develop the investment culture in the Arab world.

The portal’s editors will go over submitted material before it is published to make sure of its quality, accuracy and reliability, as well as its adherence to the guidelines for these articles, which ask for them to be focused, unbiased and precise among other criteria.

It’s an interesting move from Argaam, attempting to tap into the knowledge of the crowds for insider information about a financial market where there’s more to each story than what figures in the official press releases and news, in addition to all that takes place behind the scenes.

As with the parent portal Argaam, Alpha Beta is available in Arabic only.

D1G Appoints Ex-Yahoo! Vice President Usama Fayyad As Executive Chairman

| Jun 6, 2009 | comment 10 Comments

D1GSocial Networking and video portal site D1G, which allows users to share, discuss, and distribute rich online content, has tapped into the knowledge and expertise of online data mining and data strategist, Dr. Usama Fayyad, to help catalyze the company into its next stage of growth.

Usama FayyadDr. Usama Fayyad served as Yahoo!’s Chief Data Officer and Executive Vice President of Research & Strategic Data Solution. Dr. Fayyad was responsible for Yahoo!’s overall data strategy, architecting Yahoos data policies and systems, prioritizing data investments, and managing Yahoos data process infrastructure which processed and mined over 25 Terabytes of data per day resulting from Yahoo!’s over 500 million users globally.

Fayyad was also responsible for the advanced technology arm of Yahoo! in Yahoo! Research — the group that is driving innovation in social systems is Search Technology, in Microeconomics and in monetization technologies. He was also responsible for user targeting and grew ad targeting at Yahoo! by 20-fold from when his company was acquired by Yahoo! in 2004 till he left Yahoo! in later 2008.

Fayyad invested into d1g.com, and has become the company’s new Executive Chairman. His entry into the company should provide great value in helping scale the company’s infrastructure to accommodate increased users’ activity and to grow the business to the next level.

“Arab audiences are really thirsty for new-generation rich content and social media represented by the Web 2.0 offerings of d1g.com. I am very excited about d1g.com. I have been informally advising the firm since its early days, and I am very bullish about their potential to grow and provide some of the most dynamic experiences for their audiences and marketers alike.” said Dr. Fayyad. “Since my departure from Yahoo! in the autumn of 2008, I have been evaluating various investment opportunities in the regional online space, and I was very impressed with the skills, expertise and dedication of the company’s leadership.” added Dr. Fayyad.

The company and Fayyad are hoping that he will play a particularly crucial role in helping the d1g.com management team better monetize the company’s inventory through more targeted ad offerings that allows marketers to dynamically generate ads that target various audience criteria such as geography, demography, and browsing behaviour. He will also help expand the offering to our rapidly growing user base across the entire Arabic speaking world.

Over 69% Of UAE Consumers Have Bought Something Online

| Jun 4, 2009 | comment 6 Comments

Google recently hosted a day for the top agencies in UAE, in an initiative to point businesses to the hotspots in online media.

In preparation for the Agency Day, Google surveyed 1,410 consumers in UAE about their purchasing behaviour, and was able to build an accurate picture of online/offline research and purchase segmentation, use of search engines and attitudes to online shopping in UAE in 2009.

The data gathered from the survey was revealed to the agencies as part of the training, aiming to stress on the importance of getting online. The results reflected the increasing sophistication of consumers in purchasing behaviors and the need for businesses to update their online presence to capture this market.

The main highlights from the UAE report are:

  • More than 69% of respondents have bought something online.
  • Amongst UAE residents, the Internet is the ‘information tool’ used most often when researching possible purchases across a range of categories including digital cameras/camcorders, mobile phones, cars as well as hotel reservations.
  • Search engines are the most used source of online research information (81% of respondents). Manufacturer websites (49%), Directories and local listings (27%), retailer websites (26%), and online auction websites (25%) are also very popular.
  • Search engines are used most for research in relation to technology (67%) and travel (48%) products.
  • Google is the preferred search engine in the UAE with (58% preferring google.com and 38% preferring google.ae)
  • In general, as a mean average across the 20 products listed in the survey, 11% of all product purchases were researched and purchased online; 28% were researched online but purchased offline; 5% were researched offline but purchased online; and 56% were researched and purchased offline.
  • Credit and debit cards (64% of respondents) are the most common payment method when making online purchases
  • 74% of the UAE online users notice sponsored links, and of those who do notice them 7% almost always, 6% regularly, 45% sometimes and 22% seldomly click on them.
  • While one third of UAE respondents say the current economic crisis has not changed their shopping habits, an almost equal proportion say the recent financial turmoil has led to less of their shopping being done online. This may be related to the fact that many of their online purchases may have fallen more into the ‘non-essential/leisure’ categories (i.e. travel and event tickets) which people choose to cut out during difficult economic times.
  • In the UAE, English (76% of respondents) is by far the most popular ‘search’ language (likely to be related to the highly multinational nature of UAE society) vs. 23% preferring to search in Arabic.

Sejaal, An Online Community For Arab Poets And Poetry Competitions

| Jun 3, 2009 | comment 2 Comments

SejaalSejaal is a new online community portal for Arab poets and poetry competitions that was recently officially launched by Jeeran, a leading Arabic user generated content portal, in its efforts to enrich the Arabic internet with a new type of genuine content and a new crowd of users.

Sejaal’s vision is to be the place for poets from around the world, and to provide poets with tools that help them express their talent and share their creativity with other poets and people online.

A “Sejaal” is a traditional activity that Arabic poets used to enjoy throughout ancient times. This form of poetry has faded in the last century due to the invasion of modern lifestyles, as well as cultural dilution. The web site was specifically designed to replicate the real life experience of a traditional “Sejaal” and therefore revive this form by riding on the most popular medium today –the Internet- making it available to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Sejaal

With the beta version launched earlier in January of this year and even though sejaal is an invitation only site where only the good poets are allowed to join, to maintain the level of quality of the poetry at this very early stage, over 300 competitions were created, the topics of which reflected the general mood of events taking place in real life. For example, a competition on the sad events that took place in Gaza was started by Sejaal users through which the poets wrote 50 verses criticizing the attacks against Palestinians and encouraging the resistance of the Palestinian people.

DemoCamp Cairo, Cairo International Convention & Exhibition Center, June 14th 2009

| Jun 3, 2009 | comment 13 Comments

DemoCamp METhe first DemoCamp Cairo; a launch event for new products, technologies and companies; will be taking place at the Cairo International Convention & Exhibition Center (Mycerinos Auditorium) on June 14th 2009 at 6PM.

A few interesting demos are already lined up for the event, but there are still openings for a couple more; So, if you’re going to be in Cairo around that date, and you are working on an interesting new web application that you would like to present, then just send an email to: info@democampme.org or leave a comment on the blog post announcing the event.

The ideas behind submitted startups have to be rather fresh ones, not things that are already overused, and priority is obviously given to newer startups.

The full list of startups that will be presenting at the event will be announced next week.

Attendance is free, and everyone is welcome to join in.

Startups and web applications presented at DemoCamp Cairo will also be reviewed here on StartUpArabia as usual. 

Nokia Offers $100,000 To Top Arabic Ovi Developer

| Jun 2, 2009 | comment 2 Comments

Forum NokiaNokia, through its developer community effort Forum Nokia, has launched a competition called Bil3arabi ‘Calling All Innovators’, inviting all Arab developers around the region to take part by creating local Arabic content for their Ovi Store.

The Bil3arabi competition was announced at the official launch event for their new Nokia N97 phone in Dubai.

Bil3arabi is open to all mobile and web application developers in the region who can submit local content to any category within the Ovi Store, from applications to widgets, video, personalization, games, audio, flash & active idle widgets, with a focus on internet innovation, flash, and mobile games.

The window for submissions opened today June 2nd and will run until October 30th, with the winners to be announced December 7th.

Submissions will be judged both by customers who download and rate the application and experts from Forum Nokia, with the grand prize winner taking home $100,000 for their efforts.

For more details about the competition and how to apply check the site: Bil3arabi ‘Calling All Innovators’

[Via: ITP]

Etisalat Launches Own New Instant Messaging Service

| Jun 2, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

Etisalat MessengerEtisalat, the UAE telecoms operator, announced the launch of its own IM (Instant Messaging) service for its mobile phone and internet customers.

Etisalat Messenger is similar in concept to other chatting applications like Yahoo! Messenger, MSN and Google Talk, allowing subscribers to send messages in both Arabic and English between mobile phones and computers.

With this move, Etisalat aims to target the young generation in the UAE with whom instant messaging is one of the more popular forms of communication.

Conversations in Etisalat’s messenger can also include multimedia; for example pictures, video and sound clips. Messages sent while recipients are offline are delivered to them as SMS or MMS messages.

Etisalat Messenger comes in two packages; one with unlimited usage at a fixed monthly rate and another which enables users to send and receive unlimited messages for a fixed session period of 15 minutes at a per session cost.

For more details about Etisalat Messenger, pricing and activation; check the product page on the official site: Etisalat Messenger.

[Via: ITP]

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

| May 31, 2009 | 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

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.

Yamli Releases Beta Of Their Official Firefox Toolbar

| May 26, 2009 | comment 17 Comments

YamliYamli, the startup that specializes in smart transliteration technologies for the Arabic Web, just unveiled its new official Firefox browser toolbar.

A Yamli toolbar or extension has been a user request for quite a while now, and Yamli has answered with this toolbar that extends the possibility to use Yamli’s Arabic transliteration technology to any site or web application a user might need to type in Arabic in. By just going to the website and clicking on the ‘Enable Yamli’ button in the toolbox, all text input areas get the Yamli functionality activated for them. Another option is to just right click on the textbox you need to use and activate Yamli for just it.

Basic text input boxes and areas as well as rich text editors are supported and can be made to use Yamli with the toolbar.

The toolbar also includes a search box, enabling users to launch searches on the web using Yamli’s smart Arabic search functionality; Search is available for Web, Images,Video, News and Wikipedia.

Another interesting feature available through the toolbar is the possibility to send updates to Twitter and Facebook directly, using Yamli’s transliteration to write the updates in Arabic.

Yamli Toolbar

The toolbar is currently in beta, and is still being tweaked with more features to be added with the final release. It’s available for Firefox only at the time being; but an Internet Explorer version should follow soon.

On another note, other than the official toolbar by Yamli, the Arab Techies Code Sprint 2009, that was held in Cairo, has resulted in a couple of unofficial Yamli related projects: A Yamli bookmarklet that can be added as a link in any browser and used to yamlify any text inputs on a page, as well as a Firefox extension that automatically yamlifies all text inputs on visited web pages. All this possible through Yamli’s open API.

TasmeemME: An Online Networking Service For Creative Talents In The Middle East

| May 25, 2009 | comment 2 Comments

tasmeemMETasmeemME, Tasmeem Middle East, is a new service that was launched in its beta version from Jordan, and which its creators describe as the first online networking site for creative talents across the region.

TasmeemME recognizes the link between social connections and finding the right job (if you’re an individual) or the right person for a job (if you’re a company), even more so when it comes to creative talent that is mainly available for freelance work.

The site caters to the creative niche by putting together a service that allows creative people to build their profiles, showcase their portfolios, connect with one another and sell their services; and provides clients with the possibility to post their projects and search for the best talents to work on them.

tasmeemME

The service being in beta, it might still need some tweaks and fixes here and there, but overall it’s in pretty good shape. Still, there are a number of important features that are still under work to be added soon; among them are the following:

  • Bidding on projects: Clients will be able to post their projects with certain specifications for interested users to bid on; and then they’ll be able to choose after comparing talent portfolios and proposals.
  • Marketplace: Users will be able to post some of their work; such as logos, templates, photos and more; as ready-to-buy products for set prices.
  • An online payment system will be introduced to make the whole issue of payments more straightforward and secure.
  • A rating system through which clients get to rate the talent’s work, and vice versa.

The site, which is available in English only, was founded by Noor El-Fadl, Tamam Mango and Khaled Abu Gharbieh, and developed by Indemaj Technology.

TasmeemME

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