Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jordan: A hotbed of web entrepreneurs targeting the region

What is it that makes Jordan a hot-bed for regional website projects?

Over the past decade, it's become clear that one of Jordan's hottest exports is ICT (information and communication technology). Within that sector, there's a very interesting case on the rise of online media portals and communities, starting in Jordan and aimed at the Arab World.

Today, some of them have matured sufficiently to relocate management and marketing to Dubai (like Maktoob and Jeearan), while almost all of these portals, old and new, are managing to attract advertising dollars from the GCC to cash in on the massive numbers of users they are attracting in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and other countries which advertisers are interested in.

Sorry to break the bad news to you, but Jordanian consumers are of little or no interest to regional advertisers, but that's another story.

This whole phenomena of 'Jordan As An Internet media Incubator' started in 1996 when Arabia.com was launched, by the same team who created BYTE Middle East magazine, led by Khaldoon Tabaza.

Arabia.com was the first and largest Arab online community, and it was the equivelant of Al Jazeera for Arabic online news across the world. Strangely, at that stage Al Jazeera itself had just launched and had little time to worry about the Internet.

Anyway, Arabia.com disappeared due to corporate and financial problems, and the second-in-line to succession was Maktoob.com, founded in 1998 by Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury. Needless to say, the survival instincts and management of these two gentlemen enabled Maktoob to survive and grow into the largest online community today.

Somewhere in between these two, emerged a quiet potential giant, Jeeran.com, founded by Omar Koudsi and Laith Zureikat, and grew slowly but surely and is now one of the top regional portals.
The most recent entrants both launched in the same month, November 2006, and are D1G founded by Majied Qasem and IKBIS founded by George Akra, Karim Arafat and others.

Both now have high regional profiles, with IKBIS already being called the YouTube of the Arab World and D1G racing towards achieving traffic numbers that just can’t be ignored by the region’s market.

Newbies like Akhtaboot.com, aaramnews.com and others all have a regional outlook and are beginning to collect the all important GCC traffic.

So, amidst all the doom and gloom of Jordan not yet realizing it's potential to become a regional IT hub; a handful of entrepreneurs have worked to 'marry' online media with IT competencies, to fly our flag across the region.

As more non-Jordanian investors come into these companies, and they take on a more regional ownership flavor, history must record that they were born and raised in Jordan, and are led by a new brand of Jordanian web entrepreneurs.

I've been a witness to all of this, as have most of you; so let's announce it and be proud of the region's best e-entrepreneurs who happen to be Jordanian.

4 Comments:

At 11:16 PM , Anonymous Muneer said...

after reading your post, i came up with a different title:

Jordan: A deadened for web entrepreneurs targeting the region

I respect your glass half-full approach, but what you are saying is that for a Jordan-based web business to grow, it needs to leave Jordan. Hardly something to brag about. And who cares about incubating a business if another country gets to pick the fruits of our labor.

In a way, your post depressed me and moved me a step closer to making my decision to leave Jordan to Dubai.

 
At 12:52 AM , Blogger Zeid said...

Didn't you notice that we're actually exporting Internet content, bringing money back to Jordan in advertising dollars which are spent on the staff here..... and the companies don't move completely, they relocate marketing staff.

 
At 9:24 AM , Anonymous Rana said...

Like ATV?

 
At 3:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now Jordan has more to be proud of than just kenafe -- or is that really from Nablus?

 

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