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French Version

Let’s not get carried away

THE TUMBLING of dotcom companies worldwide had to hit us in the Middle East, and we’ve witnessed its repercussions over the past months.

THE TUMBLING of dotcom companies worldwide had to hit us in the Middle East, and we’ve witnessed its repercussions over the past months.
Most recently, the oldest ‘player’ in the field and the company that we all consider as the dotcom leader has downsized its staff by 20 people, out of around 100 employees.

Arabia.com is undoubtedly a source of pride for Arabs across the world, and Jordan in particular, as the company started in Jordan and still mostly employs Jordanians.
The fact news reporting on Arabia’s restructuring was distastefully done makes you wonder whether the press in the Middle East are actually interested in the successes or failures of online businesses in the region! “Arabia axes 20 percent of its staff" is a very sensationalist headline. It does not consider the successes of that company, or the fact it’s still on course and growing, but just required some restructuring to ensure its continued success, amidst lower than expected revenues. It happens, to any business. After all, aren’t the customers (Internet users) the ones whose best interests are served when an online business continues to deliver the services they need.

Any how, the situation at Arabia.com, and in the Middle East’s dotcom industry as a whole is not all doom and gloom. There’s just too much talk about of Internet businesses, ad so little said about the marvelous achievements of the past few years by dotcom businesses like Arabia.com, Maktoob.com, Ayna.com and newer companies like Ajeeb.com, Mauje.com and others.
Changing business models, and shifting focus from advertising sales to other sources of revenue is something that even Hotmail and Yahoo need to do to flourish. So why is it a problem if prominent online businesses in the Middle East like Arabia.com, Ameinfo.com, menafn.com and many others state it openly and talk to the press about their ‘alternative plans.’ It’s much better to have alternatives. The other option would be further downsizing.

Also, the massive shake-up going on in the US and Europe has not been seriously felt in our region. I suppose we should all be happy for that, after all who would want to see more people loosing their jobs.

To give you a bit of an idea on how our current situation is considered stable in comparison with what's going on elsewhere, consider the following fact that over 17,000 dot-com employees in the USA, Europe and the Asia Pacific area are losing their jobs in April, an increase of 7,000 from the month before, March.
The report goes on to say that “84 percent of April’s layoffs are blamed on the general downturn in the industry.” Also, last month, 55 Internet companies closed down in the US. That’s an increase from the 44 companies that closed in March.

Looking at this frightening global trend, allows us to learn from the mistakes of others. For a start, dotcoms took on an ‘insulated’ approach to the world; pretending that it didn’t matter whether you made money or lost money. In fact, the more money lost, it was believed, the more potential future revenue would be gained from the millions of users who companies were, supposedly, ‘investing in’.

This craze was being fuelled by the media, who literally created this whole ‘new economy’ trend and were enjoying it on its high. Well, now, the media is also enjoying its low reporting on the disasters that have resulted. In many ways, these negative reports only add to the problem.

It doesn’t have to be like that in the Middle East, and it shouldn’t be. Our role as technology reporters and writers should be performed with responsibility, and with the best interests of the region’s Internet future in mind. Let’s not get carried away. Just the facts, please!

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