The beta version of the first Arab social media platform, Baaz, was launched on Thursday during an event held via the video conferencing platform Zoom, attended by telecom sector officials, the creators of the application and Arab content creators.
Deputising for Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship Ahmad Hanandeh, the office director Samira Zu’bi delivered the opening speech, in which she said the previous governments and current one prioritised information technology and innovation for change.
Zu’bi highlighted the importance of social media platforms, especially amid the pandemic, as they considered an “integral part of people’s lives”, creating a need for more Arabic content in this field, boosting communication and delivery of information, and creating jobs and investment opportunities.
The launch of the Baaz platform, which targets audiences in the Middle East and North Africa region, will provide content to meet the needs of Arab communities, Zu’bi said, noting that there are 300,000 Arabic speakers in the world.
She concluded that the platform attracted many content creators from Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan and Palestine, among others, who will provide exclusive content to boost user experience, with a plan to expand further in Arab countries.
The Information and Communications Technology Association of Jordan (Int@j) Chairman Bashar Hawamdeh said that the “online Arabic digital content is very limited”, noting that this is a chance “to build and create Arabic content through many initiatives that support this field”.
“The legislative environment in Jordan is very important, especially in regard to taxes, as there is only 5 per cent income tax on companies that create intellectual property, whereas in the rest of the world it is a lot higher than that,” Hawamdeh said, noting that taxes on sales and production input are zero, and there are effective human resources in this field.
Chief Executive Officer at Baaz Hamda Khochtali said that Baaz, being the first Arabic social media platform, aims to prove “the capability of Arabs in creating a leading platform with many features that meet the demands of Arabic language users, focusing on the Arabic content, user safety and user friendliness”.
“We ensured that the experience will be both fun and fitting to Arab culture in every step, within a safe environment, especially because Arab users are done with platforms filled with scam accounts and fake news, and it is the duty of such platforms to combat such phenomena, so we provide the means to limit this negative experience,” Khochtali said.
The CEO said that the goal is “not to rival Facebook and Instagram”, as there is no Arabic competition, nor create a platform with the Arabic language only, because it will be available in various languages, but rather the content will be in Arabic and “close to the culture and hearts of Arabs”.
Moreover, the platform, downloadable from www.baz.com, will have an easy authentication of profiles, augmented reality, photo editing and safe encryption among many other features that will ensure users are entertained and their profiles are safe, Khochtali said.
The event hosted well-known Arab content creators, including Raghda.k, Wesam Qutub, Naji AlQaq and Yazan Nobani, who expressed their excitement and plans to present users with exclusive entertainment and educational content on the platform, using its various avatars and features.