Arab Blogging Revolution?

Occasionally, I like to take a break from my blog, and sometimes from the internet as a whole. During my latest break from my blog, I found this website. It is a cultural Arabic website. What impressed me about this website was not the content -although it looks good- but the tool they are using to publish it. They are using WordPress as a content management system (CMS).

WordPress is usually referred to as a blogging tool, and a large number of bloggers from all around the world already use it, including some pioneer Arab bloggers such as Serdal and Subzero Blue. I totally realize that this tool is powerful enough to manage the content of any website of any kind. Global Voices Online is a good example for that. However, I did not think that any Arab website would take this step. I'm glad that the people at Doroob have made that choice, and I think this can give a push to the blogging movement in the Arab World.

Blogging can be a huge success in the Arab World, but we still don't have the required tools. I think a large number of the thousands of members of Arab internet forums would welcome a tool that makes it easy for them to publish their opinions in the form of a personal website (blog), with complete freedom, without the supervision of moderators, and to get rid of the problems they usually face with using forums as a publishing platform.

However, it is too bad that none of the Arab tech companies seems to be ready or even willing, to make this tool. I think we can use a model similar to the one used at Blogsome. We need someone to translate WordPress completely to Arabic (Dashboard, forms, templates, etc.), and then offer to host blogs for free, and maybe coupled with some text ads.

I don't know if this can be profitable, but even if it is not, someone has to do it, sooner or later. I think it is better for users if someone from the Arab World makes it, instead of some international giant that might dominate the whole market. It's been almost a year since we have heard the rumors about Google updating Blogger to fully support languages written from right to left (Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, etc.), but Google did not provide any further information on this since then. Another approach for Arab companies to take is to try to start a partnership with Google to provide an Arabic version of Blogger, the same way it is now in Brazil.

Probably there are more business models, and more opportunities, to spread blogs in the Arab Word, but that is all I could come up with now. I think blogging can lead to a true publishing revolution in the Arab World, where the freedom of expression is a serious matter to everyone. I think the spread of Persian blogs is a good example for what we can achieve.

Unfortunately, when the dot com bubble burst in the West, it affected Arab tech companies that could have been the starting point for Arabic blogging. The likes of, PlanetArabia, and Sakhr, could have done that job. However, both and PlanetArabia now rest in peace, while Sakhr has lost its appeal., founded in 1995 as the first Arab dot com company, received about US$25m of venture capital in 2000 from the likes of Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, Intel, Compaq, and HSPC. Today, it no longer exists.

Does any of the current Arab tech companies, or any of the Arab investors, has the courage to take the last step that will open the door to the Arab blogging revolution? I hope so


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