TV star Muna Abusulyam to launch app to capture ad revenues for “good intentions”

Updated 10 April 2018
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TV star Muna Abusulyam to launch app to capture ad revenues for “good intentions”

  • Arab television star to launch new app that will send money to non-profit organizations
  • 13 organizations including orphan support groups have already signed up
KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Muna Abusulyman, the media personality and entrepreneur, is to launch a new app designed to lure away some of the billions of dollars in advertising spent each year in Saudi Arabia with the the big social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Ads.

Revenue raised from the initiative will be spent instead on Saudi non-profit organizations (NPOs) as a way of enabling them to capture more financial resources. It will be called Niya - the Arabic phrase for “good intentions” - and she plans to launch it during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Arab Women Forum in King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah, Abusulyman told Arab News: “All that money spent online on social media is going out to the Kingdom, so I would like to divert that back to Saudi Arabia. That way we can use the goodwill of the Saudi population and their social media use to create social revenue streams for NPOs.”

Some 13 organizations have already signed up, like charities and support groups for orphans, female employment and autism. There are around 1400 such NOPs in the Kingdom. 

She said the initiative was being launched in support of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy away from oil dependency and the public sector. “The idea behind Vision 2030 is to encourage businesses that will create value for the country. Niya would keep money, that at the moment goes outside, inside the Kingdom. I’m tired of giving other people our money.”

She said full details would be revealed on the company website and social media at time of launch.
She is believed to have secured financing for the project from a Saudi investor.

Abusulyman was speaking after appearing on a panel devoted to the role of women entrepreneurs in the Saudi economic transformation. She said that the Kingdom’s female workforce was adept at running small start ups, often based in their own homes, but that was often the limit.

“It’s very difficult for women to take the next step. There are a lot of constraints on them - social, cultural and financial - towards going further. And they have the responsibility of the family and home too.”

She continued: ‘The number of Saudi women who apply for and get government funding is low. The banks, a lot of the time, don’t provide entrepreneurial funds anyway. But men who want to raise capital have an easier time because of their circle of friends and contacts, which women do not have.

“In Saudi, we’re creating a lot more opportunities for women who want income, a job outside the home, and all the other opportunities of a more modern economy,” she added.

She said that her TV show Kalam Nawaem on MBC channel  was “all about the energy of social change and innovation,” and that she was aiming to air more content concerning the digital and hi-tech sectors. “It is all about giving the right information to the right people at the right time,” she added.


Book review: The story of a trader who made it big in the scramble for Africa

Updated 4 min ago
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Book review: The story of a trader who made it big in the scramble for Africa

BEIRUT: There was a time when, before the advent of a synthetic substitute, piano keys, billiard balls, combs and handles for cutlery were all made of ivory. Arab traders were interested in the lucrative trade to cater to the huge demand for ivory in Europe, America and the Far East.

Enter Tippu Tip whose first journey took place in 1855 and went on to establish him as a highly- successful ivory merchant.

His name is not easy to forget — it has an inner rhythm, a musical sound that stays with you and yet few know the truth about the iconic Omani trader whose life story turned into the stuff of legends.

Born in Zanzibar as Hamed bin Mohammed Al-Murjabi, Tippu Tip’s father, Mohammed bin Juma Al-Murjabi, was originally from Muscat and particularly proud of his mother’s ancestry.

Author Stuart Laing came across Tippu Tip while doing research for a dissertation on the abolition of the slave trade in East Africa and the Indian Ocean during the 19th century. “The aim of this book is to introduce the reader, through the life of Tippu Tip, to the extraordinary world of East Africa in the second half of the 19th century,” Laing wrote.

During that period, known as “The Race for Africa” and the “Scramble for Africa,” Europeans and Arabs opened up vast tracts of territory for trade in the East and Central part of Africa. Laing says us that these journeys were huge enterprises, with Arab trading caravans boasting porters and soldiers in huge numbers. Tippu Tip’s caravan itself had 2,400 men.

Besides being a smart trader, Tippu Tip had remarkable leadership qualities that would help him during his third journey lasting 12 years. During that trip, Tippu Tip made a decisive encounter with Henry Morton Stanley who acknowledged his unique qualities in his book, “Through the Dark Continent.” “After regarding him for a few minutes, I came to the conclusion that this Arab was a remarkable man, the most remarkable man I had met among the Arabs…”

The fascinating players outlined in this book make it a must-read for anyone interested in real-life adventure.