ArabCrunch was founded in 2008. The blog launched its Arabic version in 2009, and quickly became a leading blog in the Arab tech sector under the leadership of Gaith Saqer. As the site states,
“The mission of ArabCrunch.NET is to help accelerate entrepreneurship and technology innovation in the Arab world by delivering an online social platform that connects participants of the technology ecosystem.”
In Aug 2010, the US State Department announced that it would fund a similar platform to support Arab tech firms. Mr. Saqer wrote that he felt personally threatened by the US government directly competing with Arab Crunch.
He later clarified that:
We are not against competition, in fact we already have competitors in different fronts and many of them are our friends, and many of us supported each other in different ways, competition is healthy and helps everyone innovate…What we are against is unfair competition, the point about US Department of State entering in competition against ArabCrunch is that it is not just against free market principles, as our sources who are close to the US Department of Defense and the US State Department has informed us that if we do not join the US government effort, they will destroy “you.”
In September, ArabCrunch launched a series of allegations, including that the CIA acquired the company that hosted ArabCrunch’s servers, the CIA/Mossad had accessed the ArabCrunch Google accounts, and the State Department-run platform was run by former Israeli military personnel.
Saqer’s suspicions were only heightened when, in October, Saqer learned that ArabCrunch would not receive a media pass to a regional tech forum. This forum was held in Jordan, where Saqer is from, and was funded largely by the U.S. Department. Saqer wrote:
For the first time in our history a technology event refuses to issue a media pass to ArabCrunch! No event from Dubai to London to Washington to Silicon Valley have ever refused to issue us a media pass before. But folks at MENA ICT Forum in Jordan did not issue one for us!
Is this a new chain of plots against ArabCrunch?
In reaction, Jordanian bloggers and Twitter users asked Saqer to refocus his forum on its original purpose, that of promoting Arab tech firms:
@ArabCrunch your website is on the top now. my humble advise is that you keep focusing on what you do best: tech and startup news.
@ArabCrunch Gaith, Focus on Technology my friend, U R among first to keep us informed…Best way to humiliate is to ignore. Skip Politics.
Others accused Saqer of paranoia:
Really disappointing to see that @ArabCrunch is continuing with paranoid delusions. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
@ArabCrunch I used to take you seriously until your tweets became paranoid. What happened? besides u provide no support for any claims
A new Twitter feed, KillArabCrunch, was founded to encourage others to end any associations with ArabCrunch:
KillArabCrunch @arabcrunch is still number one Arabic startup blog according to Google search. Help stop this ridiculousness and kill this website now!
And a satirical spinoff, ArabCrunchies.com, also sarcastically jabs at Saqer’s allegations:
[W]e have been trying for some time to arrange an interview with the Founder of ArabCrunch and all-round badass, Gaith “CIA Eater” Saqer, but sadly we have been unable to get through to him.
We suspect that our emails and tweets are probably being intercepted by the CIA/FBI/CNN/Mossad/MosDef in transit, as we are certain Gaith would jump at the chance to talk directly to the Crunchies readers
On October 15th, Mohammed Qwaider begged these online authors to take a step back.
Folks, this has gone too far. This is not how things should go.
Granted, Ghaith is mentally unstable and completely paranoid. Or perhaps he's playing a game of some sort. But to find people creating accounts on Twitter under the name “Kill Arab Crunch” is flat out cyber bullying and bordering on hate speech.
This is not acceptable and shouldn't be allowed in any way, shape or form.
People like that need help. Not to be bullied around like that!
Efforts by Global Voices Online to contact Mr Saqer for a comment on these allegations were met by the following email response:
We found that you had a talent in writing, would you be interested in
doing an internship or working for ArabCrunch? We can be flexible
about time and so on.
ArabCrunch Editorial Team