Entrepreneur in Focus: Jihad Alammar of Qaym.com

Jihad Alammar Part social network, part Zagat’s guide, Qaym.com specialises in user-generated reviews of restaurants across the Middle East. Founded in Riyadh by Jihad Alammar, it already boasts a community of 24,000 users, all of whom have created the most democratic, and often instant, dining critiques in the region.

What was your “Eureka” moment?

Jihad Alammar: I wanted to create something that is similar to Amazon’s reviews, as we needed that in the region – there’s very little out there for local venues. My vision was to apply it to everything – restaurants, food, clothes, shops, barbers, etc. I’d wanted to be an entrepreneur since university, and had started with the idea of delivering food, but without the logistics I opted for delivering relevant consumer information.

How long did it take to go from original idea to commercial project?

JA: I worked on it for two years, and it’s now been two years since Qaym.com’s launch and we are quite happy with the results!

What was the biggest challenge in developing your business that you were
able to successfully overcome?

JA: We had several problems with the site but we really wanted to stick to our launch deadline, so we got it out there with bare minimum functionality and kept on adding new features as we went along. Other problems involved user adoption, and the fact that people were accustomed to forums but not yet into web 2.0.

What help or resources do you wish you
had when you were starting out?

JA: Online payment systems and product fulfillment are two major issues for e-commerce in the region. Also, we need more access to funds and to venture capitalists, especially investors who can also act as consultants, people with a genuine interest vested in your business who you can turn to for advice. We also need more success stories to be celebrated and more role models who embody and personify this role in the region.

What are the key barriers to entrepreneurial development in the Middle East right now?

JA: There’s no genuine entrepreneurial culture here, at least not in Saudi Arabia. People still tend to cling to the comfort of their jobs and the stability that they offer. We need more incubators like Bader.

This article first appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of The Explorer, Aramex's thought-leadership magazine that investigates issues critical to businesses, communities and the planet.


This article first appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of The Explorer, Aramex's thought-leadership magazine that investigates issues critical to businesses, communities and the planet.

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