Investing In Technology Forum, Cairo, Egypt – May 12-14th 2009

| Apr 3, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

Investing in Technology ForumThe Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF), a Pan-Arab NGO with the mission of promoting and supporting Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship as a tool of economic development in the MENA region, has announced its 6th Investing in Technology Forum to be held this year in Cairo, Egypt on May 12th -14th, 2009 under the Patronage of H.E. Dr. Ahmed Nazif, Prime Minister of Egypt.

Organized in cooperation with ITIDA and Nile University, the forum is a networking opportunity for entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, regional corporate CEOs, and all technology leaders in the region who will get together to share experiences, develop relationships and explore business opportunities.

The Forum falls into ASTF efforts to bridge the gap between those who generate technology and those who generates businesses and investments, with the ultimate aim of creating strong, innovative and competitive knowledge-based businesses that can add value, generate jobs and create wealth.

The Forum is targeted at an audience of investment and business professionals; multinational corporations; leading regional corporations in technology innovation; venture capital funds, private equity funds, and investment banks; angel investors and business angel groups; technology leaders in the Arab region; incubators and technology parks; universities and research centers; NGOs and Gov. organizations; as well as technology startups and SMEs.

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Zaad, A Specialized Palestinian Directory Search Engine

| Apr 2, 2009 | comment 1 Comment

ZAAD

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.

Zaad

Ehsaeyat, Open Free Survey Service Around Technology Topics

| Apr 2, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

EhsaeyatEhsaeyat is a new Arabic service that was launched a couple of months ago by Bluemeel as an open and free service holding and publishing results of surveys, mainly around technology topics.

Surveys done by Ehsaeyat are open and free for everyone to access and make use of, in an attempt to help academic researchers as well as business people find the numbers they need for their research and businesses.

The service is aimed at everyone, but mainly at people who don’t have the budget to go to one of the market research companies out there for the numbers and details they need.

Anyone can suggest surveys to be launched and then shared through the site. The surveys done by Eshaeyat are managed through SurveyMonkey, and then their results are published for everyone to access.

The service should come in handy for a number of people, and I think it could be used by internet startups to try and collect more information to help them with their first steps.

Ehsaeyat is still at its beginnings, and a good start it is, I just think they should try to put more focus on their ongoing surveys, and on getting them out there to more people from different backgrounds, incomes, …etc., in order to have a better and more significant result set.

Submit Conference Tickets Discount For StartUpArabia Readers

| Apr 1, 2009 | comment 2 Comments

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

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.

Among the speakers at the event are: 

- Ray Milhem (Director and Chairman of the Board – AdvancedIO)
- Robert Hoekman, Jr. (Founder – Miskeeto)
- Ryan Carson (Founder – Carsonified)
- Simone Brunozzi (Web Services Evangelist, Europe – Amazon) 
- Tariq Al Asiri (General Manager – Argaam) 
- Alexander McNabb (Group Account Manager – Spot On PR) 
- Ashraf Khalil (Usability expert & University professor - Abu Dhabi University) 
- Cloves Carneiro Jr. (Co-Founder & CEO – SpinBits) 
- Rida Al Barazi (Co-Founder & Dev. Manager – SpinBits) 
- Mohamed Marwen Meddah (Founder – StartUpArabia) 

StartUpArabia has managed to get a limited offer to the next 10 readers interested in buying tickets to the event a 30% discount, if you buy through this link using the discount code ‘startuparabia’.

# Buy discounted tickets

Google Ventures, Google’s New Venture Capital Fund

| Mar 31, 2009 | comment 13 Comments

Google, which has invested in many startups over the years, just announced the launch of Google Ventures, its new venture capital fund.

Google Ventures

Google Ventures is expected to invest up to $100 million over the next 12 months. It will be overseen by David Drummond, who will continue in his role as senior vice president of corporate developing and chief legal officer at Google. Investments will be vetted by William Maris, who joined Google about a year ago, and Rich Miner, a co-founder of Android, a mobile software startup that Google acquired in 2005.

At its core, Google Ventures is charged with finding and helping to develop exceptional start-ups, focusing on early stage investments across a diverse range of industries, including consumer Internet, software, clean-tech, bio-tech, health care, as well as other areas.

Google says it will mainly be tapping into the connections of its employees and its ties to the venture capital world to find promising startups.

Google Ventures has already made two investments: Silver Spring Networks, a company that makes technology to help manage electric grids, and Pixazza, which links online images with related products that can be purchased.

On another note, executives from Google have been travelling around the Arab region these past days, meeting with government officials, people from development programs and entrepreneurs in a set of private networking events.

Ruwad: The First Entrepreneur Focused Publication In Oman

| Mar 30, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

To promote entrepreneurship in the Sultanate of Oman, a new publication titled ‘Ruwad’ will be launched as a special presentation of Alam Aliktisaad Wala’mal, the leading Arabic business magazine of Oman.

United Press & Publishing, the publisher of Alam Aliktisaad Wala’mal signed an agreement with Intilaaqah (the social investment programme of Shell) and Sharakah (owned and operated by the Fund for the Development of Youth Projects) to launch Ruwad, with Intilaaqah and Sharakah as founding partners.

The bilingual (Arabic, English) publication will be launched in the first week of May, and will be the first and only publication targeted at startup small and medium businesses, providing information on the latest industry statistics, opportunities in the market and relevant business trends.

It will also provide matchmaking opportunities by bringing young entrepreneurs and industry experts on a common platform to share information and identify business opportunities.

The publication’s overall aim is to provide pertinent content to make a meaningful contribution in the growth of entrepreneurial culture in Oman.

Restaurant Review Service Qaym Releases New Version

| Mar 24, 2009 | comment 4 Comments

QaymQaym, the Arab website for user generated restaurant and coffee shop reviews, that was previously reviewed here, recently celebrated the launch of it’s new redesigned interface and additional features.

Qaym is an online project through which users rate and review restaurants and coffee shops, in addition to uploading pictures of them and their food items, discussing their positives and negatives and posting relevant information about them.

Each restaurant has its own page that contains information about it (including location, branches, type of offered food, etc.) and reviews of the people who visited it and tried its food, which can range from enthusiastic delight to obvious disappointment. There’s a gauge in each page showing the average user rating of the restaurant.

The new version includes a re-branding for the service, introducing a new logo, and a new more simplistic and organized design for the homepage, as well as some other design tweaks for the inside pages.

An important new feature that has been introduced is the ability to pinpoint the location of a restaurant and its different branches on a map; to make it easier for people to find them. This is done through the integration of Google Maps.

Other than that the site’s rating system has been enhanced and extended to allow users to rate each other’s reviews, posts and photos.

The site currently focuses on food and drink establishments, and intends to expand so that the community can rate and review any charged service or product, ultimately aiming to provide an honest, user- and consumer-driven community in which people’s real experiences are shared and published so that they can be the basis of people’s decisions to buy or use a product or service, instead of attractive advertisements and ubiquitous billboards.

New Version For Al-Fawaed Social Knowledge Sharing Service

| Mar 23, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

Al FawaedAfter around a year and a half without releasing any new features, the team behind Al-Fawaed, the Arab social knowledge sharing site has gone and launched a new version of their online service.

Al-Fawaed is a service that lets users share the useful and most interesting points they’ve taken away from reading a certain book or article, listening to a lecture, watching a television program, or even from a personal life experience, in the form of summaries or mind map diagrams.

The new version includes a slight re-design aimed at making the site more user friendly and the information shared on it more organized and accessible. The homepage has been changed to show the latest summaries and mind maps in respective columns, instead of defaulting to the summaries page.

A number of the page elements have also been revamped and re-organized around the page to better present them to the user.

Al-Fawaed

A section offering the user some randomly selected entries to discover has been added to the side of the page, offering an entry point to more summaries or mind maps. At the end of each entry, there is also a new section serving up links to other entries, as well as the previous and next ones.

The possibility to share entries with friends through the most popular online social bookmarking and social networking services has been integrated into the system as well.

A number of technical enhancements have been added to the system too, including keyboard shortcuts to make the creation of summaries and lists easier, tag suggestions, better support for the most popular browsers among others.

Al-Fawaed

Filaty Arab File Sharing Service Launches Mobile Version

| Mar 22, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

Filaty MobileFilaty, the Arab direct file sharing service, which was previously reviewed here, has just launched a mobile version of its service, making it possible for users to upload and share files directly from their mobile phones and devices.

By introducing this service, Filaty hopes to make it easier for people to use the service from anywhere, helping to grow usage of the service and extend their user base.

Users can upload photos and files of up to 100MB through a light, quick interface; and have the link sent to their email address or the email addresses of the friends they want to share with.

The mobile version is available at: http://m.filaty.com (filaty.mobi and filaty.com/mobile work as well.)

On another note, Filaty is now also one of the upload options available in Mrrha, the file mirroring service, previously reviewed here.

Ayna Launches Free Mobile Mapping Service For The Arab World

| Mar 17, 2009 | comment 6 Comments

AynaAfter launching their online mapping service last year, Ayna has gone on and launched the first locally produced Arabic and English mobile mapping service as promised.

The application, unveiled this month, uses GPS technology on the latest-generation mobile phones to give directions and maps to points of interest from the user’s location.

According to Mazen Halawi, the corporate sales manager for Ayna Corporation, it contains detailed information about all major Arab cities and capitals, with numerous points of interest which are searchable, and that will be updated regularly.
It works in a similar way to Google Maps but has the added advantage of routing, or step-by-step directions to a destination, something unavailable for the Middle East through Google Maps.

The service is available for all types of phones except the iPhone and can be downloaded in two formats, for keypad and touch-screen phones, free from the Ayna website.
Users can also send directions to their favourite spots to friends through SMS.

Ayna is also presenting this as a value-added medium for advertisers who seek local advertisements, like banks, restaurants, points of sale, and others.

The application will soon add satellite images, which will allow users to view areas in maps, satellite and a hybrid view.

According to numbers released by the company, the application has been downloaded 12,800 times in its first week.

Ayna launched its online version of its mapping service in November and has more than 50,000 points of interest logged into its Arabic maps so far.

# Ayna Mobile Maps

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