Mecca.com trying to be the Yahoo and Facebook for Muslims
Based in Amman, Jordan, Mecca.com. is an Arab startup trying to unite Muslims using web 2.0 their goal according to them:
“Our goal is to promote and reinforce an inspiring, positive image of the strong values that Muslims bring to their respective communities everywhere. Come to Mecca.com”
The site still in beta is a portal has many services such as social networking, photo sharing, email, news, web driver, and forum, it is currently available in both Arabic and English, and more likely other major Muslim languages to be added soon such as Urdu.
The site registration is simple and straight forward, the interface is clean not perfect but could be better..
The profile page is ok, though I suggest adding more profile info, such as blog, IM and so on, the web site in general should be use more Ajax, for example when adding a friend it should be done using Ajax so I do not have to go to another page.
Mecca.com has user generated Articles which it is sort of a blog, where users post articles in many categories, but the user can not have a unique url for all of his articles where the world users could visit.
Users can bookmark articles, but it is short in enabling them to add tags , and to view them all of regardless on the language and the interface option.
The neat thing about articles I liked is the possibility of exporting to PDF, I did not try it though!
Mecca.com encourages its members to post articles, comments, etc. and in exchange for gaining more points. Also members can rate articles, and top rated are displayed on the articles page.
I tried to post an article, but it did not tell me what happened with it, it did not show in my profile, I guess it must got the amdin first.
Having an Islamic website should ad hear to Islamic Sharia law, as such heavy moderation for content is expected.
The forums are not very active pointing that the site is not yet popular, there are many topics on the forum, but it seems the owners avoid political sensitive issues such as criticizing Arab governments, and talking about Alqeada. Though I ve seen many posting who are anti Danish for Danish news paper display of the disgraceful cartoons of our beloved prophet Mohammad, peace be up one him.
Chatting service Mecca.com uses the widget from Userplan, at 2:00 am Jordan time (+2GMT) the chat was empty.
The photo section, has some nice features such as uploading more than one pic to an album, tagging them, and sharing with all friends, or some of them, or with the public or no one. But looking into the photo section I did not see a tag cloud for all pics, nor categories. Nor the option to search pics. I suggest to Mecca.com’s team to add links to photos and embed option so other can post photos some where else, thus providing viral marketing to Mecca.com.
Users have a limit of 1 GB for photos but that limit can increase through earning more points by being active across the community. Today the top photo had 702 views.
The points systems Is cool an encouraging. The more actions such as pots the members do the more points they get and the more their rank level increase. For example: members points rang from 101- 1,500, Active: up to 3,000, while VIP up from 60,001-500,000.
The new thing in the website is the driver, where you can add files to folders, like photos you can share folders with friends, Mecca.com users or no one. The upload limit is up to 2 GB but can go more if you gain more points. I added a PDF file but like photos the uploading process needs to be faster.
It would be better to be able share files with the world. Which will help Mecca.com in viral marketing when others post the files’ links else where such as other online forums.
There is a Pursue Dream button, I did not know what is it, since it did not work – I am using FireFox may be that is the reason- any web site should have all browsers supported specially Firefox since is has around 35% share of the market.
The new email application they added uses the open source software from Zembra, a company acquired by Yahoo! Few month ago. The email should auto-add my friends list on Mecca.com, and there should be an auto update for the inbox just like Gmail. I also did not see on the email app an Arabic button when using the English version.
Support on the forums is not active, a negative point I take on Mecca.com’s team, I’ve seen posts of complaints about the email being down on 2008/1/12, and there was no reply by the admin what so ever.
Mecca.com has some Islamic tools such as Zakat calculater and Prayer time, though Zakat should be easier to use and the amount should be calculated in any many currencies at least Euro and Dollar. A guide to Zakat could help new Muslims or Muslims who forgot how to calculate Zakat.
Though I do not have much info about the marketing of the website but I’ve seen many Adwords ads for Mecca.com before, they launched draws for new members and for inviting friends . And also they are planning to affiliate with other Muslim organizations to drive membership and traffic.
My advice for them is to have a better PR strategy, like having an official company blog, news section where they post their press releases. And a section that show case media buzz about them.
Business model as most web companies is Ad supported, though they can premium services such as selling more driver space .
The founder of Mecca.com is Ibrahim Al-Husseini and current Executive Chairman of MECA Communications, born in Jordan, raised in Saudi Arabia and went to the University of Washington before beginning his corporate career. AlHusseini spent the last 10+ years as CEO of several companies.
Mecca.com also have Sami Al-Taher Jordanian national as a senior director and programs manager at Oneworld Software solutions a US based company with software development centre in Jordan. -One world is now part of ESTARTA, which Microsoft invested in.
Mecca.com has a dozen or more direct competitors, in Islam social networking area there is sites such as MuslimSpaces, in Arabic there is Matkoob and Jeeran, gmail, gawab, d1g.com
The most notable competitor –indirect- is facebook – they should learn from them a lot- which is the number one social network in the Arab world.
The unique thing about Mecca.com is its name, they should enhance their features, be innovative in bring new once fast, enhance usability, speed – speed was one the factors why people left friendster and went to myspace, later to facebook- and should focus on its core audience Muslims to Muslims, having major Shaiks being active inside the website is a plus, but choosing which sect a Shaikh should be from is a dilemma.
You can add me to mecca.com here –My mecca.com’s profile–