How Arabia Weddings will Transform Wedding Planning in the Middle East

Arabia Weddings has launched a new wedding planning website catering to brides in Jordan, and eventually the Arab World.

The site, launched after incubation and investment from leading ICT and digital media accelerator Oasis500, aims to be the region’s leading bilingual wedding planning website.

It’s catering to a booming market- despite the global economic recession, a survey conducted at the Bride Show Dubai in 2008 showed that the average cost of a full wedding package in the region is between $30,000 and $140,000 compared to an average of $20,000 in the US. Arabia Weddings will tap into that market by connecting brides and grooms with local suppliers as well as online honeymoon packages.

Despite competing with a handful of English language sites and Arabic language competitor, Arabia Weddings has differentiated itself in the market by offering a unique set of online planning tools, said founder Samar Shawareb. The site, which is admittedly easier to navigate than competitor, offers three items that will further help brides plan out their big day.

First, an online checklist helps brides organize their to-dos, allowing them to set deadlines and prioritize items. Second, an online contact list allows brides to organize their supplier contacts. Third, Arabia Weddings allows engaged couples to create their own website- a trend very popular in the U.S. and Europe- to announce their engagement and tell their story.

The site will cater initially to Jordanian brides, but also plans to expand in 2012, potentially to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where it will face direct competition from, which caters to Emirati brides and yet is also expanding into those two markets.

Yet when it comes to soaking up market share, Shawareb knows her customer well, having worked to organize wedding shows in Jordan for the past six years. Her target customers, women between the age of 20-35, are all online and communicate on Facebook frequently, she says, so planning a wedding online, especially when they may be juggling work, is a natural step. Especially in Jordan, she noted, there is a particular need for brides to coordinate their planning online with grooms who often work in the Gulf.

Arabia Weddings is also completely free for brides, and free for suppliers who simply list a number. The site generates revenue by charging for advanced directory listings, as well as creating micro websites for suppliers who don’t have an online presence, and taking a commission of deals done on the website.

Developing this monetization plan was a process that Oasis500 helped greatly with, says Shawareb. “Oasis500’s six-day bootcamp and vigorous screening process, along with a two-day business modeling course, was an important component of the training.” She hopes to continue to compete by “trying to be as innovative as we can, and introduce more new ideas to the region, like our online planning tools, that do not exist elsewhere.”

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