Billionaire Mohamed Alabbar, one of Dubai’s most prominent businessmen, plans a phone messaging service for the Middle East that aims to compete with services such as WhatsApp.
Alabbar, who made his fortune as the chairman of Dubai’s largest listed property developer, Emaar Properties, has been moving into other areas, in particular technology.
Mobile phone penetration in the Gulf region is among the highest in the world, with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the top seven globally with rates near to the equivalent of two phones for every person.
The region is also home to a young and tech-savvy population – Saudi Arabia is one of the top consumers of YouTube videos – but there is comparatively-little Arabic-language online content.
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