Today, I thought I’d check out Arabia.com, the portal that once was regarded as the jewel of Arab portals.
So much money was thrown into it, with round after round of funding, and investment after investment, the biggest being from Prince Waleed Ibn Talal of Saudi Arabia.
They got into everything from news, to free email, to instant messaging, to mobile logos and ringtones, to forums, to marketplaces, to offering internet connections… the long list goes on.
And they recruited a huge team of people from all fields, both in Amman and Dubai, making them the biggets Arab internet company.
Each new version had a cooler design and released more features making the portal bigger and bigger.
They sponsored TV shows and events, aired a bunch of ads here and there and promoted themselves like there was no tomorrow.
And then, after the internet bust in the west, things started going not too well for Arabia too, as people realized that it was costing too much without making enough money, and so Arabia started falling faster than it rised.
New versions started losing the cool design touch they used to have, as they started working on the designs in-house. The content started to shrink, the services started to dissapear, layoffs started, and well you know how it goes.
The last time before today that I checked on Arabia was a few months ago, and it was still alive with a bit of news and some services.
Anyway today, instead of the orange Arabia homepage, I found the default Apache server page asking me: “Seeing this instead of the website you expected?”
Well, yes, but I can’t say I didn’t expect this day to come.
It’s a big shame.
If it makes you feel any better, PlanetArabia.com who were one of Arabia’s main competitors have dissapeared as well.