Oman Internet Users Spent US$ 236 Million Online In 2008

| Mar 16, 2009 | 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)

| Mar 15, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

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: www.entrepreneurs-forum.org

Survey: Traffic Transparency Would Help Internet Advertising

| Mar 13, 2009 | 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.

Google Announces G-Pals Day 2009 In Palestine

| Mar 12, 2009 | comment 7 Comments

G-Pals Day 2009Google announced that upon invitation by the Palestine Information & Communications Technology Incubator (PICTI) and Palestinian IT Association (PITA), with support from UPP and USAID, it will be offering specialized training days in Ramallah (West Bank), aiming to spur economic development in Palestine.

The event will be held over a two day period (March 24 – 25, 2009); the first day targeted at software developers and the second at entrepreneurs.

The agenda is as follows:

Day 1: For Software Developers (March 24th 2009)

Day 1 will focus on pushing the boundaries of web applications using Google developer technologies. Google engineers and web development leaders will lead attendants through one full day of in-depth sessions on the latest Google technologies and hands-on codelabs. The day will also be about bringing brilliant developers together to share their own ideas. Registration form for Day 1

Day 2: For Entrepreneurs (March 25th 2009)
Day 2 will be full of Google product demonstrations for small or medium sized businesses to help spur innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. There will be a discussion on how to create Arabic content using online tools, how to market them and how to monetize. Furthermore there will be presentations of several tools to better manage businesses. Registration form for Day 2

The event will be held in Ramallah at the following venue:

Grand Park Hotel
Al Masyoon Heights
Rafat Road
Ramallah
Tel: +972 2 298 6194

For more information, you can visit the official site here: G-Pals Day 2009

[Via: Leaders of Tomorrow]

Private Equities ME, A Private Equity Portal For The Region

| Mar 11, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

PrivateEquities.meUAE-based RichWeb -a member of Tharaa Holding- just announced the launch of PrivateEquities.me, a portal dedicated to the private equity sector in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The portal lists private equity companies and consultancies, as well as a selection of available investment opportunities from around the region; aiming to actively contribute in the development of the private equity sector in light of the Global Financial Crisis, through providing information and updating investors on new investment opportunities, and forming a database for all private equity companies and other related companies.

Mr. Shabeer Mohamed, Managing Director of RichWeb, said “Private equity investments reached $500bn globally, out of which $13bn is based in the Middle East. In light of the new global economic challenges, private equities will be more willing to offer their portfolios and investments to the largest possible number of investors in order to continue to develop their investments. Hence, came the idea of launching a website that connects companies and investors, and offer many services and resources including listings of consultancies working in the field. PrivateEquities.me offers three confidentiality levels for those who wish to keep certain investments and information confidential and offer it to a handful of selected investors, which makes the services the website offers a qualitative shift in the regional private equity sector.”

PrivateEquities.me

The website offers listings of companies, portfolios, investment opportunities, in addition to updated information and the latest news about companies and the private equity sector in general.

RichWeb is offering a free of charge three months trial period for companies to list their information and portfolios, they can also search the available opportunities industry or by country. The visitors will receive the latest updates according to their saved search criteria.

Rich Web intends to continue developing the website, offer additional services and make available all relevant private equity information to visitors and members including researches, reports and interviews with industry leaders through cooperating with top regional media.

PrivateEquities.me

Kn.tc (Konashah), An Arabic Online Notebook Application

| Mar 9, 2009 | comment 4 Comments

kn.tcKn.tc, which stands for Konashah, a word that means notebook in Arabic, is just as its name suggests an Arabic online notebook application, made to provide a place for Arab internet users to jot down and save their thoughts, favorite quotes and sites, and anything they’d like to be able to go back to and find in the future.

Konashah enables users to create as many online notebooks to group their notes into as many different categories and themes as they wish.

A Firefox plugin was created for Konashah that enables users to directly start typing their notes from within the browser extension without having to go to the Kn.tc website every time, or to simply select the text they want to clip on any given web page and send it to their notebooks right away.

kn.tc

The design is very simplistic and the interface is really easy to use, with Ajax integration making management of notebooks, as well as updates and changes on notes within them quick and light.

Konashah was developed by Mazen Melibari from Saudi Arabia and is only available in Arabic.

Kn.tc (Konashah)

DemoCamp Saudi – King Saud University, Riyadh – (March 11th)

| Mar 8, 2009 | comment 5 Comments

DemoCamp Saudi

The first DemoCamp Saudi; a launch event in Saudi Arabia for new products, technologies and companies; will be taking place at King Saud University in Riyadh on March 11th in hall #26.

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

  • 3zeema: An Arab social event organization and invitation service, that was previously reviewed here.
  • Fwateer: An online service that enables businesses selling online to bill their clients directly through their bank accounts.
  • Moshtry: A service that provides tips and advice on what products to buy and use, allowing users to share their own experiences as well.
  • Kammelna: An online Baloot group card game site.
  • Books Exchange: An online book exchange service.
  • Qaym: An online service for user generated restaurant reviews, previously reviewed here.
  • Dorat: An online central resource for all training opportunities provided by companies.

The format will be the same as other DemoCamp events in the region, with the presenters giving a 10 minute presentation of their work, with another 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.

Startups and web applications presented at DemoCamp Saudi will also be reviewed here on StartUpArabia.

[Updated 09/03/09: Two other demos have been added (Qaym and Dorat), bringing the total to seven demos.]

Mobile Internet Users On The Rise In The Middle East

| Mar 5, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

Mobile InternetMore Middle East business people used mobile devices to hook on to the internet last month, compared with February 2007, while fewer used computers, a just released survey showed.

The survey, presented to the Digital Marketing Conference in Dubai by the Dubai-based research company Real Opinions, said computers were still by far the main way to connect to the internet.

The percentage who regularly logged in to the web with their mobiles increased from 33.5 per cent to 40 per cent.

Numbers of people using desktops to log in decreased from 63.50 per cent to 58.93 per cent, while those using laptops slid from 82.80 per cent to 81.35 per cent.

Mr Dan Healy, the chief executive of Real Opinions, said mobile device users tended to be professionals and high-end targets for advertisers.

“This is a select group of business internet users,” he said. “These are people with authority and relatively high disposable income, which are the target group for the travel industry, the hotels and the airlines. “This gives advertisers more creative ways to access them.”

The survey, of 446 business internet users in the region, also found they spend far more time using the internet than they do with any other kind of media.
The survey said users spent an average of 3.51 hours a day surfing online, compared with 2.28 hours watching television.

But it found that, while internet use dominated other media in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon, radio was stronger in the morning rush hour, and television was stronger in the evening.

Most respondents, 58 per cent, said the current economic climate had affected their organisation’s budget for marketing and advertising, but 37 per cent also said it had increased their organisation’s interest in internet marketing.

[Source: The National]

H2O New Media Secures First Round of Funding From Equinox International

| Mar 3, 2009 | comment Leave a comment

H2O New MediaH2O New Media, the technology company focused on Enterprise Social Media applications in Dubai, has confirmed its first round of funding from Equinox International. A deal between H2O New Media and Equinox International was signed following months of negotiations as the two companies weighed inflation and market stability.

The size of the investment hasn’t been made public, but it has been described as a significant one, and H2O New Media is looking at the investment as an opportunity for growth and expansion of its operation within the MENA and APAC regions.

H2O New Media was established in 2007, as one of the leading social media software companies in the Middle East which focuses on developing niche communities within vertical industry sectors.

The company plans to further advance into key markets across the MENA region, with immediate plans to open new offices in Oman, and then an APAC office based in the Philippines.

“We have been following H2O New Media for a while and I am pleased that we have managed to come to agreeable terms and have secured a stake in the future of the company. The team has very strong background of building companies to 100M dollar plus valuations and H2O New Media has the credibility and potential to achieve this position in the market. They have been working continuously over the past 2 years to develop a number of niche portal applications that will really shake up the MEA online market whilst still providing value for businesses and consumers alike. We prefer to keep the details of our capital investment confidential but I would say it is a sizable commitment on our part and we are determined to assist H2O New Media in its positioning as a leading MENA player within the online & mobile data sectors” said Osama Qadan – Principal Partner, Equinox International.

“Although market conditions have been deteriorating and discouraging our company seems to have bucked the trend by focusing on innovation. We are fortunate to secure funding from a partner who is set to become an integral part in our expansion plans across the MENA region. Having representation in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as a significant telecommunications footprint made Equinox International our preferred investor and an ideal business partner who will work with us to rapidly scale our operations and translate our products into Arabic for the larger markets. As we deliver product and develop partnerships with the regions mobile telecommunications providers our intention is to be aggressive in the market and compete with key players such as Yahoo and Google. H2O New Media has created a significant wave in a short period of time and we are committed to maintaining a strong regional presence and market share in this sector” said Mr. Steve Vaile, CEO, H2O New Media.

Media Experts Think 80% Of Arab Advertising Will Go Digital

| Mar 2, 2009 | comment 2 Comments

Media experts believe that the current financial crisis, in tandem with the fast changing demographics of the region will turn as much as 80 per cent of advertising to digital platforms such as internet and mobile phones.

Speaking at a conference, titled “Coping with Change, Yes, We can”, at the Dubai Press Club, some of the region’s media experts conveyed that the current projections for ad spent on print media will hold on to a mere 20 per cent, while digital platforms will grab the rest in a few years’ time.

Echoing the findings of the latest edition of the Arab Media Outlook 2008-2012, some speakers said that broadband would make a strong impact on the media scene, bringing better efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The new edition of the Arab Media Outlook, the media analysis recently brought out by Dubai Press Club in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers, has revealed that demographic factors are among the principal reasons why the Arab World is most suitable for the growth of new forms of media, such as digital media and mobile TV.

The report based its conclusions on extensive research in 12 Arab countries, says that one common feature across all 12 markets is that young people make up a relatively high percentage of the population. “Over 50 per cent of the population in Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt are estimated to be currently less than 25 years old, while in the rest of the countries the under-25 ‘net generation’ makes up around 35 per cent to 47 per cent of total population,” said the report.

The seminar, which saw a detailed discussion on rapid changes in the media industry and the challenges posed by the current financial meltdown, was addressed by Richard Withey, Dr Ali Al-Assam, Managing Director of KnowledgeView Ltd, Francis Matthew, Editor-at-large, Gulf News and Magdi Hannah, Press IT supervisor, Abu Dhabi Media company.

Personally, with all due respect to the speakers and their opinions, and even though I’m pretty optimistic about the outlook for online advertising in the Arab world over these coming years, and am on the side that thinks this financial crisis will grow the market of digital advertising, I still think a growth from around 1% of overall advertising budgets to 80% in just a few years is a bit exaggerated, and neither is it healthy.

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