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Mon 30 Apr 2001 04:00 AM

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Localisation is key says Ajeeb's research unit

It's not enough to copy Western business models when going online — companies must localise their offerings, says Ajeeb's CEO Fahad Al Sharekh

Regional dot-coms have to address regional demographic, cultural and linguistic issues if they are to build long-term online ventures, warns recently compiled market research. According to Ajeeb.com’s research unit, it’s not enough for local dot-coms to copy Western business models with a few minor modifications — they have to add value through localisation.

“Many dot-com ventures in the Middle East are tempted to import a successful business model from the US or adopt it after making minor adjustments,” says Fahad Al Sharekh CEO of Ajeeb.

“Such a model could not pass the test of time if it doesn’t address the demographic, cultural, linguistic and other parameters, especially in an uncertain market that is rife with competitors and lacking in information,” he adds.

According to Al Sharekh, local dot-coms must adhere to certain regional requirements including, Arabic content, developing tools for Web localisation and forging partnerships with regional and multinational players. Local online ventures should also attempt to assume an Arabic gateway position, enabling access to other non-Arabic content.

“There is a great difference between the North American and Arab markets beyond the obvious. [Research] indicates that the import of the North American business model would not give the same results in the Arab world,” said Al Sharekh, adding that any business model imported into the Arab world should be adapted for the regional market requirements.

Al Sharekh made his remarks during a to an audience of business people and the media as part of a conference held by the Dubai Ideas Oasis at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ajeeb’s research also indicates the number of Internet users in the Arab world incapable of ‘thoroughly benefiting,’ from web content unless provided in Arabic stands at 45%. Research also predicts that this number will rise to 67% by 2005 — equivalent to a 17 million people out of a 25 million Internet population projected by the Ajeeb.com Research Unit.

Ajeeb’s Research Unit reached their conclusions after conducting research of the Arabic Internet market where a number of parameters were measured and compared with their counterparts in the North American.

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