Saudi Jeans has been nominated for the 6th Annual Brass Crescent Awards in the Best Mideast Blog category. I don’t expect to win, but being in the good company of great bloggers like Saudiwoman and The Black Iris is more than enough for me. Go there, check out the other interesting blogs nominated in all different categories, and vote for your favourites.

Facebook Friends and Colorful Circles

Fellow blogger Roba al-Assi and I have quite a few things in common: blogging, Riyadh, admiration for Andy Warhol, a passion for the interwebs and stylish geekiness… and, among other things, 17 mutual friends on Facebook.

But Roba and I never actually met in real life.

We keep talking about possible chances to meet, but these chances never seem to come. Ah well, I’m sure we will get to meet some day. Until then, I will kindly ask you to go and check out this awesome post she wrote illustrating the fascinating overlapping of her social circles online.

The Alternatives

If you think SaudiFlager is not such a bad idea, brace yourself for this: NaqaTube, a website from Saudi Arabia that aims to offer a clean alternative to YouTube, preventing the youth from watching profane or sexually explicit video clips online.

Abu Ibraheem, one of the moderators of the website who did not wish to reveal his real name, told Arab News that clips on NaqaTube are religiously safe and often edited prior to being uploaded. The site also censors clips that are against the government, individuals and scholars, or which mock people in general. Abu Ibraheem added that women’s images are totally forbidden, along with music.

Okay, stop laughing. Let’s get serious. Let’s forget that YouTube’s TOS clearly prohibit pornography or sexually explicit content, videos showing bad stuff like animal abuse, drug abuse, under-age drinking and smoking, or bomb making, and graphic or gratuitous violence. Let’s forget the question of whether women’s images and music are halal or haram.

This is not the first attempt by religious people to make clean alternatives of popular internet offerings. Before NaqaTube there was GodTube, JewTube, and IslamicTube. Heck, a Saudi company have been promoting a whole clean internet under the name Gnet for years.

Although I never thought that building Arabic/Islamic alternatives to popular internet services is exactly a good idea, I find myself today not minding it very much. More choices to the people is not a bad thing, I guess. But I still wonder about the prospects of these projects, especially after the recent acquisition of Maktoob by Yahoo!. Is this a sustainable business model? Can these alternatives survive the competition by focusing on such specific niches?

Saudi Single Serving Sites

Single Serving Sites are web sites comprised of a single page with a dedicated domain name and do only one thing. This kind of websites has been online for a long time, but the trend was first documented last year by Jason Kottke, and later in a paper by Ryan Greenberg. Now these web sites cover many different topics and you can check the first two links to learn more and find examples, but some of my favorites are:,,, and Are you tired?.

Here in the Gulf, my Kuwaiti friend Bader has created two such web sites: Desert Fubuki, and most recently Last week I came across one interesting example from Saudi Arabia: Is it crowded or not? which basically watches the status of traffic at King Fahad Causeway and how congested it is on both directions. (The website has been taken down and now a message reads that it is still under construction and will be launched soon).

Inspired by the above, I started to think what other examples for Saudi Single Serving Sites could be interesting, useful and/or funny:,,,,,,,,,,, and finally, to answer a question that I’m frequently asked: You can think of better examples? Please do share them in the comments. I might actually go and buy some of these domains :-)

Qaym Redesigns

It has been a year since I wrote about Qaym, the user-generated restaurant reviews website founded by my friend Jihad al-Ammar. I was invited to a press conference last night where Qaym announced launching a new design and new interesting features.

Jihad said the website has enjoyed a steady growth over the past year and attracted an active community around it. He then introduced the new design which included a new logo and color theme. No major changes on the interface, but the little tweaks here and there should improve the usability and make it easier for users to find their way around the site.

Qaym logo

The most important new feature for me is the addition of Google maps to the restaurant pages. Jihad says that it took them a long time and much effort to make it happen, but they are pleased with the how they finally implemented this. Since they only rolled out this feature yesterday not all restaurant pages have them yet, but you can check out this one to see how it is working.

Jihad announced during the press conference that Qaym is expanding by adding two new developers to the team: Mashhour al-Debayyan and Omar al-Amoudi, and that they plan to expand Qaym to include reviews for other services and products. A mobile version (and maybe an iPhone app) of the website is scheduled for later this year, he added.

I have to say that I’m not just impressed by how far Qaym has evolved, but I’m also extremely proud of Jihad and rest of the Saudi team behind the website. Their hard work and commitment to provide a great service coupled with high quality is to be admired and respected. It is a real shame that they don’t get the recognition they deserve, but I hope that this will change soon.

Blogging or Bragging?

070709_tech_karaoketnIt is extremely saddening how some of us were so brainwashed that they reached a stage where even the most basic human rights have become alien to them. Al-Riyadh daily asked their readers earlier this week about blogging and if blogs are a medium for spreading ideas and sharing opinions or simply a place for bragging and showing off. So freedom of expression is bragging now? *sigh*