Mar7abashabab is a start up I have been working on for almost a year. My partner is a very interesting young man who has been a joy to work with, and very interesting as a partner. His name is Faisal Faisal – he is somewhat famous, being interviewed by the Today Show in the USA as well as numerous other news outlets. Faisal is an athlete – an Olympic contender, and he is from Iraq. And oddly enough, considering his origins, he’s chosen winter sports as his passion. Winter sports and building online communities. Faisal and I will be working together for a long time to come – but the first fruits of our efforts are now online. I’m rather proud of it. I’m also very pleased Faisal decided to work with me. It’s been to my benefit that he has.
MarhabaLife is an Arabic Social Network. It launched today, late evening in the Middle East. So far I am pleased with the number of visitors we have had – and the number that have signed up, and outfitted their Avatars and their mini-rooms. About 70% of the people signing up are young women (17-20 years old) which is good – we are hitting our target demographic. Where the women go, the men will follow 🙂
The site was custom developed from the ground up – first in English then converted to Arabic. The graphics are all original, done with a variety of people in a variety of countries. At least a half dozen countries were involved in this project. More than 9 time zones and about 9 different languages. I truly enjoy working with people all over the planet, and this project was certainly global in nature.
Early in the project Faisal and I talked by phone quite a bit – but he was in Australia (where he currently lives) and the costs were prohibitive. For the last 6 months we had not spoken – everything was managed electronically through chats, IM’s, email, etc.
So I was very happy today when we launched – on Faisal’s birthday – and he called me to tell me that our first four users had signed up, and that his mates were taking him out to celebrate his birthday. And the Birth Day of Mar7abashabab. It was very good talking to him again. If you don’t understand how anyone could establish a strong bond of friendship and trust without ever physically meeting each other then go build a website with someone thousands of miles away. The issues you work through together make you brothers.
So congratulations, Faisal. I knew we would get there, although sometimes the mountains were steep, and the rivers wide and flowing quickly. I could not have conquered the peaks, or forded the rivers without your constant sense of purpose, your belief and passion in this idea (your idea), and the trust you placed in me to help make it real. Thanks, my brother!
We have a lot of work to do yet – we weren’t really ready to launch, but we felt we would never be “ready”. So there is a lot more coming to surprise and delight our newfound friends on Marhabalife.
Below is an interview with Faisal from MSNBC some time ago. And below that is an animated GIF (click it to view the animation) banner ad that is now running on some of the most popular Arabic web sites. You might be surprised how many of these sites are in the Alexa top 500 global sites. Of course it doesn’t surprise us – we based our business model around it.