We are kick-starting TWTW with a twist in light of last week’s Facebook special, introducing…..

Face-who? Come meet our soon-to-be new social media friend, Salamworld

It’s Facebook, with a ‘halal’ twist!

The new social networking site, Salamworld, is set to launch during Ramadan this July. Based upon Islamic ideals, the site ‘hopes to bridge cultural, traditional and sectarian barriers and bring Muslims together in one online community’ (source The National).

Supporting eight languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, Russian and English, the site functions similarly to Facebook, allowing users to create profiles, add friends, share links and create special interest groups. The ‘halal’ twist comes in the form of religious counseling, mosque locations, purchase abilities for Islamic merchandise, and an Islamic library directory. All content is to be Islam inspired, with any ‘non halal’ content being removed by site administrators.

Yavus Selim Kurt, the spokesperson for Salamworld, states that the aim is “to create an online community where millions of Muslims can congregate and express their views” (source The National).

Salamworld also invites non-muslims to join the platform for learning and discovery.

See the full story here.

Taghreedat launches Arabic Wikipedia Editors Program

A couple of weeks ago, Arabian Bytes reported on the Arabic initiative by Taghreedat to increase Arabic e-content on the net. Following this, we have heard more great news that the Middle Eastern volunteer program has joined forces with Wikipedia to launch the Arabic Wikipedia Editors program!

As the first initiative of its kind in the Arabic world, the initiative strives to train internet users to become Arabic Wikipedia editors. Contextualizing this, currently there are only 630 Arabic Wikipedia editors, in comparison to over 300,000 English editors!

However, whilst this number is comparatively low, it appears that hunger for Arabic content is growing, with over 350 volunteers signing up already according to Taghreedat’s co-founder Mina Takla, who points out that this is already a 50% increase in the current number of Arabic Wikipedia editors!

See the full story here.

This encouraging news leads us neatly to our next story that…..

Arabic overtakes English as the most popular language on Facebook Middle East!

Image source: Spot On PR

Yes indeed, Facebook Arabic has surpassed English as the Middle East’s most popular language on the social networking giant, Facebook!

Spot On PR reports that out of the 39 million + Facebook users in the Middle East, 39% of them use Facebook in Arabic, compared to the 36% in English, and 23% in French.

Great news for Arabic patrons!

For the full story click here.

Arabic boost for Yahoo!

In line with the growing prominence of online Arabic use in the region, the multinational internet giant Yahoo! has teamed up with Arabic translation service Yamli, in an agreement that will allow Yahoo! to use software developed by the start-up service.

Created by two Lebanese entrepreneurs in 2007, Yamli’s applications allow users to type words phonetically, which then automatically appear in Arabic lettering. It is hoped that Yamali will help grow a plethora of Arabic words online, making them more searchable and readily available for use.

As quoted in The National, Mr Haddad, co-founder of Yamli states that “I’m hoping it will create a domino effect for private-sector companies to engage with start-ups”.

The app is already live on the Yahoo! portal, and is expected to become incorporated into Yahoo! Messenger and Mail some point in the near future.

See the full story here.

Facebook’s Dubai office opens its doors!

Rounding off the TWTW, we bring you news that Facebook has formally opened the doors to its new regional Dubai office. According to Gulf News, the opening is ‘a bid to help people and organisations harness the power of the social network’ in the MENA region.

As demonstrated by the forthcoming launch of Salamword, social networking continues to have a growing prominence in the Middle East. Malek Al Malek, managing director at Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource Zone, states “Dubai Internet City is proud to have a young, global company that revolutionised the internet world join our cluster. Undeniably, social media has impacted not only consumers but also the decision making and long term plans of large enterprises based in the country,” (source Gulf News

According to Joanna Shields, Facebook’s vice-president and managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, “In an open and connected world, more and more companies are realising that Facebook is the place where they can build strong connections with their customers. We are here to share our experience and learn from the many talented, creative people in this part of the globe,”

See the full story here.