Social networking is big business. Facebook, with its user base of over 800 million users, is expected to raise billions of dollars when it becomes a publicly-traded company later this spring. [...] Enter a new Istanbul-based startup, salamworld, which hopes to establish itself as the social networking giant of the Islamic world. The company says it will offer a halal-friendly space for Muslims to gather online.
Even though the site won't be open to the public until the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, set for late July in the Western calendar, that hasn't stopped buzz in the Turkish tech world from bringing Salamworld to the fore.
Zuhair Al Mazeedi, of the Arab Institution for Social Values, in Kuwait, added that Salamworld can fix more than just the ignorance of non-Muslims about Islam. "There are many Muslims who misunderstand Islam – Islam has been hijacked by terrorists," he said. "We need to bring our youth back to the moderate and effective Islam. Many of our youth have no goals in life, and using such platforms can direct them into goals of life."
There is also widespread hope that the momentum of the Arab Spring can be built upon to facilitate political change in the heart of the Muslim world.
|Abdul Wahed Niyazov with OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu|
The startup capital has largely come from private investors in Kazakhstan and Russia. Chairman of Salamworld is the not uncontroversial Abdul Wahed Niyazov Validovich, President of the Islamic Cultural Center of Russia and a founding member of the Russian Muftis Council. So is Salamworld designed to help the ummah – the global community of Muslims – or to cash in an empty market niche?
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