What inspired you to start this platform? When did you realise that you wanted to turn this concept to reality?
It’s usually a realisation. You want something, and then you’re realise it’s not there. I work in consulting, and traveling is constant. During one of my trips, I wanted to listen to an audiobook. There are many English audiobooks out there, and the ultimate question popped up “Wait. Why don’t we have audiobooks in Arabic?”
This is where the idea came in to create such a platform. We were 3 founders, passionate about the same idea - that included me (Mohamed Ebrahim), Hala Sulaiman and Ameera AlQubaiti. Next, came the necessary steps. Talk to the market, build the right platform, and maintain it. We launched a website and an app of high-quality Arabic audiobooks.
What is the gap you are trying to fill?
We need to preserve our culture, and unfortunately there’s not enough content. In AlRawi app, we have books focused on motivation, self-development, leadership and much more translated in Arabic. We are creating that content in Arabic. You have hundreds and hundreds of English audio books that is accessible - we want to create the same via AlRawi.
“During one of my trips, I wanted to listen to an audiobook. There are many English audiobooks out there, and the ultimate question popped up - Wait. Why don’t we have audiobooks in Arabic?”
What is the structure of your team?
We have a team in charge of communications, design and branding, a team that handles IT and the technology part, , and then you have the operational side which handles the day to day operations, actual production, creating the recordings and most importantly focusing on the outreach efforts for the audio-publishing community as well.
“We need to preserve our culture, and unfortunately there’s not enough content”
AlRawi, beyond being a platform with Arabic audiobooks. You’re also creating a network of publishers - tell me more about that
It was actually the second phase of our product. However, it’s being done now. Let’s say there’s someone that is a good storyteller with a good voice suitable for the AlRawi platform from Morocco - you can still be part of our platform,
The question was “how do you grow enough content for people to listen to?” We have to think about capacity, and what is the capacity of one person to produce audio books? It’s still low if it was 5 or 10 books a month. We needed a strategy to increase that, because if we were to build a library for people to subscribe to - don’t you think we would need 1,000 books? We created a process that was scalable.
How does the process work?
For those that want to participate, you can go to our platform and click on “Contribute to AlRawi” to submit a form that is reviewed by the team. Once you are approved, you meet the team and then we go through the process of setting up your profile, agree on what is being recorded, and then you have a personal dashboard that will have all your uploads, comments, and etc.
How do you brand the application itself? What is the positioning?
We brand it this way - Born in Bahrain with an Arab identity, and a global outreach. However, when it comes to our participation, activation events and any special programs - we engage more internationally than locally.
Describe what kind of experience AlRawi wants to give its users?
The way we are producing books is different from anybody else. We actually try to create content that is engaging. We are adding special effects, multiple voices, dialogue and much more.
“The way we are producing books is different from anybody else. We actually try to create content that is engaging.”
You mentioned that you are ultimately creating a knowledge Base by AlRawi?
Yes, we are. Our platform creates a network in a natural way, where you can learn, grow and connect. This type of relationship that the platform creates allows users to come back. We create a connection between users, instead of just having them on our platform.
Who are the people that will benefit from AlRawi?
There are 4 different types of people we focus on, and they are:
Working professionals: Those are people that work every day, they have families and not necessarily enough time to read between work and families time. This is a big market because they have income but they just don’t have time
Youth/millennials: Those are young people that love to learn and hear stories, and are doing everything they enjoy online
Young children: Those are young children that are in the digital world watching YouTube videos, and getting engaged on iPads with their content.
Individuals with Special Needs
“Our platform creates a network in a natural way, where you can learn, grow and connect. This type of relationship that the platform creates allows users to come back. We create a connection between users, instead of just having them on our platform”
Congratulations on your partnership with Gulf Air and Emirates? Tell me more about that.
Gulf Air and Emirates feature a number of audio books on-board in collaboration with AlRawi platform. We have a diverse collection of Arabic audio books which will include various genres such as novels, management, education, self-development and children books ranging from 50 minutes to a few hours recording time that will entertain passengers in short, medium and long haul flights. With this step in partnership with two major airlines, it puts us a step closer to achieving our vision which is to revive reading in the Arab world.
What is your future plan? The next step.
Our biggest next step is actually increasing our content and our outreach with book and knowledge lovers, with corporates and institutions that wish to provide continuous learning and development for its staff and relevant stakeholders, and increasing our user base. We focused more on the product in the beginning, but now we want to focus on initiatives relating to the customers.
Thank you Mohamed and Hala for having coffee with us and we will make sure to follow your journey. We are sure it will be epic - KEEP GOING