Egyptian blogger from Cairo.
Revolutionary Socialist.
Partner & Creative Director at ThePlanet.

Alexa: Top Sites In Egypt

Under: Egypt Tags: . . .

Although not exactly accurate, Alexa.com provides intriguing information regarding the most visited websites on the Internet, and can be viewed by country or category. Just like the architecture or gastronomy says a lot about a culture, sites visited on the web can say a lot about the people. If you were to check out the Alexa page for the top sites in Egypt, you would be surprised by the quality of websites that make it to that list. After the usual Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and YouTube, the following were the company:

  • MyEgy.com: A portal for downloading Arabic and English movies, songs, programs and games. All perfectly illegal
  • RapidShare: File hosting and exchange. Not necessarily used for exchanging legal office documents
  • Maktoob.com: A Saudi portal offering everything from news to forums and downloads
  • Travian.ae: An MMORPG, this is the Arabic version made for the Middle East

Add to the pile Masrawy.com (whose appalling design inspired me to talk about it), Yallakora.com (equally as disappointing, only this one focuses on football), and Filgoal.com (yet another football site, but definitely classier than the former), and you will have the unique mix specific to Egypt. Judging from this list, we could conclude the following:

  1. Egyptians use the internet mainly for entertainment
  2. Forums are over-overwhelmingly popular
  3. People prefer local news sources as oppose to international ones, regardless of the poor quality
  4. Needless to say, football is an essential aspect of life
  5. Online gaming and downloads are a basic need

The sad but true story is that the Egyptians are not taking full advantage of the power of the web. In fact, it seems that people waste a significant amount of time between social networking, illegal file-exchange, and online gaming, than looking up information (via Wikipedia, for example, that hasn’t even made it to the top 20), or uncensored international news sources (such as BBC Arabic or AlJazeera). In fact, very little attention is paid to the aesthetics of a given website – the majority of regional websites in the list are over-exploited with ads, incompatible with Firefox, and just look plain ugly. The value of the website is in the free services that it offers, which basically means illegal downloads.

MyEgy.com: sadly popular

MyEgy.com: sadly popular

While such findings can trigger depression and loss of hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel, especially if you keep the following in mind:

  1. Egypt’s relatively new to the internet. There will be millions of users coming on board in the near future
  2. There’s plenty of room for competition, which will invite start-ups and Web 2.0 projects to invest and bet on a market share
  3. More international websites will realize the importance of having an Arabic version, potentially attracting millions of users

With free dial-up access nation-wide, and affordable DSL connections, there’s no doubt that more and more users in Egypt will rely on the Internet for news and information that was previously hard to get a hold of. But before we reach that stage, it is normal for a population to ecstatically celebrate freebies in an overwhelming fashion, before the rush calms down and the  real benefits of the World Wide Web arise. Until then, any Web 2.0 projects aimed at Egypt, anyone?

Related posts

3 comments

Amr

July 19, 2009

I see you are not happy that Egyptians are not looking up more useful knowledge and spending their valuable internet time playing, but I wonder how this compares to other countries, especially the “advanced” first world.

I also have a Web 2.0 idea where I think your design capabilities can be put to good use, I will speak with you soon about that in private.

Tarek Shalaby

July 19, 2009

Good point. If we were to look at Germany (which is obviously a bit of an extreme case, but is nonetheless inspirational), the following are within the top 20:
– Ebay
– Wikipedia
– Amazon
– spiegel.de: independent news source
– bild.de: another independent news source
– Twitter

While they do have their share of social networking websites and the like, it is clear that the Germans are taking advantage of the internet much more than the Egyptians. For the time being, at least.

And yes, Egypt and the Middle East can always use more Web 2.0 projects. Designers and developers have the advantage of learning from study cases abroad and introducing new projects in Egypt.

justMe

July 20, 2009

I’ve got a web 2.0 project in the pipeline and there’s one company that’s blowing me away with the quality and technology in their websites, check out espace.com.eg, carlog.com, wenear.com.

I personally don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s a cultural issue IMHO, even as more Egyptians get online, they’ll still go for music, video and ringtone downloads because remember it’s the higher end of families on the income spectrum that are already online and in the risk of sounding bourgeois it’s this end of the spectrum that you’d expect to have greater cultural variation and depth.

I think much greater focus on the lower income families (who will eventually get internet access) is the key to changing these said trends. Something like a bus and subway eticketing service could gain traction the way the university application service (tanseeq) did or the Thanaweyya 3amma scores website.

Another great post Tarek, keep it up.

Leave a reply