Queen Rania Meets with Oasis500 Officials, Companies, and Entrepreneurs

February 19, 2013

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department-Amman) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah paid a visit today to Oasis500 where she met with the management of the development and investment company as well as young entrepreneurs running start-up ICT and digital content companies who showcased their progress, achievements and future plans.

At the meeting at the Oasis500 headquarters in King Hussein Business Park, Her Majesty was received by Oasis500 Executive Chairman Dr. Usama Fayyad, and Chairman of King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD) Dr. Omar Razzaz. Her Majesty toured the new “NAJEM” facility which was inaugurated by His Majesty King Abdullah II in November 2012.

The Oasis500 companies, team and board members discussed the latest changes in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector, and the challenges and opportunities they face in Jordan to accelerate their businesses and take them to a regional and international level.

At the start of the tour, the Queen met representatives from 9 currently incubated companies: ArabiaWeddings, a wedding planning website; First Bazaar, an online retail store; Smart Order, an electronic menu operator; Gweet, an online alternative accommodation service; Cheezu, a photo book-making online service; Progressive Generation, an animation studio; Blue Kangaroo, a personalized deal search online service; Aqar-Estate, an online market place for real estate in the Middle East; and I3zif.com, an online music center.

Her Majesty then attended a meeting with 20 entrepreneurs who also spoke about the launch of their companies; Qais Qatameen, Director of KAFD; Ahmad Hanandeh, CEO of Zain, a key investor in Oasis500; and a number of Oasis500 board members. The meeting included brief presentations by startups, an overview on the entrepreneurship sector in Jordan and an open discussion on the challenges and opportunities the companies have.

“This is very impressive, very creative. You should be proud of yourselves and of your companies,” Her Majesty said, addressing the young entrepreneurs, adding that efforts should be stepped up to attract more support for such companies in order to expand and promote them inside and outside Jordan.

Her Majesty said that these projects have a Jordanian and Arab character, and will in the future open the door for new work opportunities as well as fuel creativity in the sectors they represent.

The young entrepreneurs thanked the Queen for taking keen interest in their work.

Dr. Fayyad gave Her Majesty an update on Oasis500, including the new investment track for existing companies which has been launched in order to help existing companies to acquire a much larger growth capital from investment funds. The new investment track targets companies that have been operating in the market over the past 2 years – either companies that have a market proven product or companies that have developed a new ICT product/service which they need to take to market or expand its existing market.

The entrepreneurs who briefed Her Majesty on their companies included representatives from Jamalon, a website that makes Arabic titles available through its publish-on-demand services, and Ekeif, an Arabic video website/mobile application that develops “how to” short videos. Others include Curlstone, an Arab entertainment house specialized in creating digital content; Abjjad, a social network for book lovers to create reading lists and share book reviews; Sajilni, a website with listings of all the events, courses and activities in different cities; and Feesheh, an online music store.

Her Majesty was also briefed by Gallery Al Sharq, a website that sells oriental media services; ishra7, which offers a new way to communicate with the target audience through producing trailers to simplify messages; Shopgo, an e-commerce platform for the MENA region; Little Thinking Minds, producers of Arabic educational multimedia DVDs, audio CDs and applications for children; and Masmoo3, a specialized digital audio books production and publishing house.

Oasis500, the first development and investment company of its kind in the MENA region, is targeting to facilitate the launch of 500 start-up companies within the next five years with the aim of creating an incentive for aspiring entrepreneurs and generating job opportunities. Since commencing its operations in September 2010, Oasis500 has successfully secured investments for 56 technology companies, which were able to attract $8 million in investments and to raise their capital to about $15 million. Among Oasis500’s achievements was training more than 800 companies, far exceeding its target of 350.