Jordanian company dives into Arabic mobile games market

Jordanian company dives into Arabic mobile games market
Hussam Hammo, founder and CEO of Tamatem, speaks during an interview at his office in the capital Amman in September. Getty Images
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Updated 24 October 2021

Jordanian company dives into Arabic mobile games market

Jordanian company dives into Arabic mobile games market
  • With offices now in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Tamatem has published more than 50 mobile games

Its logo is a tomato, not an apple, but in just eight years Jordanian company Tamatem has already bitten a chunk out of the lucrative market for Arabic mobile games.


"Less than one percent of internet content is in Arabic, even though there are 400 million Arab users," said the company's founder and CEO Hussam Hammo.


"There is a very big gap in this market that we are trying to fill," added the 38-year-old entrepreneur, sitting in his elegant Amman offices.


Hamo founded Tamatem - which means tomato - in 2013 and it was the first Arab company to win investment from the "500 Startups" programme based in Silicon Valley, California.


Eight years on the company has grown to about 80 staff who convert mobile phone games into Arabic, also adapting content to fit Arab culture.


"Language was a barrier to mobile games growth" in the region, said Nour Khrais, founder and chief executive of games developer Maysalward.


"The Arabic language connects (the player) emotionally."


With offices now in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Tamatem has published more than 50 mobile games, which have been downloaded more than 100 million times on Apple and Google Play stores.


"Seventy percent of smartphone users in the Arab world have set their phones in Arabic, which means they like to use content in their mother language," said Hammo.


"Sadly when you search in English for a game in app stores you will find millions of games, but when you search in Arabic there are only a few thousand," he added.

But competition is fierce, and Khrais said the Middle East and North Africa region was "the largest growth region in the world in the field of electronic games".


Market analysts Mordor Intelligence said the global gaming market in 2020 was valued at $174 billion, and was expected to reach $314 billion in 2026.


Tamatem, which has partnerships with companies in the US, China, France, South Korea, Bulgaria and Croatia, converts games by replacing characters' voices and names, adapting music and clothing, adding Muslim holidays like Ramadan and even changing car licence plates.


"We don't only do translation, we do the most important thing which is educating by making the content relevant to the Arab culture," said chief operating officer Eyad Al Basheer.


"Hollywood Story" from Nanobit.com, in which players can become movie stars, strut the red carpet, hang out with fans and even shoot blockbusters, was renamed "Malekat al Moda" -- or "Queen of Fashion".


Instead of locations in New York and Los Angeles, the avatars travel between Dubai, Beirut and Cairo, in an Arabic game which has now been downloaded more than 15 million times.


Strategy multiplayer and civilisation-building game "Clash of Empire" from developer Leme Games launched its Arabic version "Tahadi Al-Molouk" or "Challenge of Kings" this year.

To fit Arab audiences, the figure of the notorious crusader Richard the Lionheart has been replaced by legendary dynastic Muslim leader, Salah al-Din al-Ayubi.


One of the company's biggest hits is "Shake the Metal" which taps into the popular sport of drifting. Featuring car models beloved in the Arab world, it has now been downloaded five million times.


The most popular of Tamatem's Arabic mobile games however, is "VIP Belote", which is based on the French card game and has been downloaded more than 20 million times.


In a 2019 report by the World Economic Forum, Tamatem was chosen as one of the best 100 Arabic companies "shaping the fourth industrial revolution".


And the Covid-19 pandemic has proved a boon, with the number of mobile gamers soaring by 150 percent, Hammo said.


"Tamatem made games easier, and we understand things that we didn't understand before, because it was in English," said player Khader Hamid, a 28-year-old civil engineer.


Mona Rummaneh, a 30-year-old working in e-marketing, said Arabic games left her "confident that all the content is appropriate for our culture and morals".


She recalled how after the Beirut port explosion in August 2020, she and other gamers voiced their solidarity with Lebanese players.
"So it is more than just a game," she said.


Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022
Updated 05 December 2021

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

Egypt to launch natural gas-powered bus fleet in 2022

CAIRO: Egypt will launch its first fleet of buses powered by natural gas next year, Minister of Public Enterprise Hisham Tawfik has said.

About 70 percent of the components used in the manufacturing of the buses will be sourced locally, in cooperation with several Egyptian companies, he said.

Tawfiq said that the fleet will include buses that can accommodate 14 to 50 passengers, and that the goal of the project is to localize technology and transport production.

“Our strategy is to work in the production of environmentally friendly vehicles, whether they run on natural gas or electricity,” he added.

A delegation from the Belarusian Minsk Automobile Plant signed a contract to supply production materials for the project.

Production is expected to begin in mid-2022, with a target of 250 buses completed per year.

Tawfiq welcomed cooperation with the Belarusian side, especially in light of the distinguished relations between the two countries, which have developed significantly in recent years.


PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering
Updated 05 December 2021

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

PIF offers 100m shares in stc in secondary public offering

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (selling shareholder) and stc on Sunday announced the launch of a secondary public offering of stc’s ordinary shares, Argaam reported.

“The potential transaction is in line with the PIF’s strategy to recycle its capital to new investments,” the fund said in an earlier statement. 

A total of 10.02 million shares will be allocated to retail subscribers.

The offering comprises a fully marketed secondary public offering of 100.2 million stc shares, representing 5.01 percent of its share capital

The price range has been set between SR100 and SR116 per share. The final offer price will announced on Dec. 10.

Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, HSBC Saudi Arabia, Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia and SNB Capital are acting as joint financial advisers for STC and joint global coordinators for STC and PIF. The Citigroup Saudi Arabia and Credit Suisse Saudi Arabia are acting as joint bookrunners, according to a bourse filing.


Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap
Updated 05 December 2021

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

Bitcoin continues to decline from its high in November: Crypto wrap

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, plunged around 30 percent from the year’s high of $69,000 on Nov. 10.

It, however, traded higher on Sunday, rising by 2.82 percent to $48,972 at 5:14 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most popular cryptocurrency, traded at $4,140 up 4.16 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

“Corrections and declines do occur in almost all markets including crypto. The current decline is considered the largest in terms of market value since the late March 2020 decline,” Abdullah Mashat, managing director of a private Saudi retail company told Arab News.

Mashat said: “Current decline is due to investors being concerned of tapering talks in the US, which resulted in the decline in stock exchanges and later this caused liquidity crunch in the crypto markets."

Anto Paroian, COO at crypto hedge fund ARK36 said: “The market sentiments  have decisively soured as a result of deepening concerns about omicron variant and its (likely) effect on the economy. The current situation resembles closely what happened in March 2020 as we’re seeing equities plunge 5 percent off recent highs and the negativity is spreading to other markets as well including the digital asset markets. 

“On the other hand, the current price levels aren’t unexpected after the bulls failed to flip the $60,000 resistance multiple times in the past few weeks. During previous Bitcoin bull markets violent swings of 20-30 percent happened a few times before the market topped and let’s remember what happened in July - and how well the market rebounded afterward."

 "It must be noted, though, that one of the key Bitcoin bull market indicators — the 20-week simple moving average — has now been decisively breached so the outlook is currently bearish in the short to medium term. What’s more, since there are widespread expectations that interest rates will rise as central banks are signaling a more aggressive stance on inflation, the violent price move in the digital asset market may also suggest that some investors are preparing to go into a risk-off mode for the time being," Paroian added.

Meanwhile, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said the Central American country had acquired an additional 150 bitcoins after the digital currency’s value slumped again, enlarging his bet on the cryptocurrency despite criticism.

Bukele said last week that El Salvador had acquired 100 additional coins to take advantage of the currency weakening.


Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line
Updated 05 December 2021

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

Aramco enters Saudi lubricants market with new product line

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco on Sunday announced its entry into the Kingdom’s domestic lubricants market with the launch of a new line of products.

The oil giant timed the ORIZON® launch to coincide with the inaugural Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Jeddah.

The product line has been introduced in more than 20 cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam with more locations planned. The products include synthetic and semisynthetic lubricants for gasoline engines and heavy-duty diesel engines, as well as driveline products, greases and brake fluids. 

The company has also expanded the brand to include ORIZONPRO® which is a high-performance line for the industrial sector.

Yasser M. Mufti, Aramco vice president of fuels, said: “Entering the lubricants market is an important milestone for the company, as we continue to expand our presence throughout the downstream value chain.” 

The launch “further complements Aramco’s presence in the Kingdom’s downstream direct-to-consumer segment, following the inauguration of our first two service stations in Riyadh and Saihat recently.”


Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap
Updated 05 December 2021

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

Countries tackle economic woes amid omicron fears, revised growth outlooks: Economic wrap

CAIRO: The Australian government is expected to raise its economic growth forecast for 2022 in its midyear budget review, according to the country’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

He said omicron’s effect, the new COVID-19 variant, is still unclear.

The country’s fiscal year runs until June.

The Australian economy narrowed by 1.9 percent in the third quarter of this year on the back of the delta variant which led to a national lockdown.

However, the treasurer said the country now enjoys one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, boosting market conditions.

France avoids more restrictions

France will try to refrain from the imposition of any health-related restrictions even as virus cases continue to rise, the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

France is also avoiding any mandatory vaccination campaigns, Bloomberg reported, citing the minister.

He said two sectors, restaurants and hospitality, were particularly hit by the wave of new cases, adding that they will receive government support.

He also stated the new variant, omicron, is yet to have an effect on the country’s economic growth.

US growth rate

Unlike other countries, US expected growth rates for both 2021 and next year were trimmed down by Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s leading investment banks. 

It said this downward revision was attributed to a potential adverse effect by omicron, according to Bloomberg.

The world’s largest economy is now predicted to grow by 3.8 percent in 2021, instead of the previous 4.2 percent forecast. As for next year, the US is set to expand by 2.9 percent, down from 3.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the country’s unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low to hit 4.2 percent in November, according to the Labor Department. This is a 2.1 percent drop compared to January’s level, a considerable decline.

However, employment growth slowed down during the month.

The economy is still expected to experience strong growth in the fourth quarter, following the previous quarter’s weak performance.