During the “Edge: The Rest of the World” workshop Samih Toukan talked about buying a company from “A guy in Yemen, where DHL doesn’t deliver, who didn’t have a passport, who didn’t have a bank-account, and who built a Web2.0 website with a over a million users.”
Samih is the CEO of Maktoob.com, an Arabic email community site which claims to have over 4 million users, and the site he acquired was “sh3bwah“. He discussed a number of challenges and “opportunities that we have never seen before” in the Arabic-speaking world.
His most striking examples were of internet access enabling women to overcome barriers to equality. He said that women are starting small businesses from their homes, using the web to interact. Similarly, internet personals sites are starting to change the marriage culture by enabling people to meet in advance online.