Just when you thought the average reader wasn’t getting enough mindless celebrity gossip from satellite channels, Yahoo! Maktoob launch OMG! and put it in writing, images and video for Arabic speaking users around the world.
The original OMG! is a celebrity news and gossip website run by Yahoo! News’ entertainment division. Launched in 2007 it started off as merely a news aggregator but has since partnered up with outlets such as X17 and Access Hollywood to not only use their resources but to also compile their own features and stories.
The name OMG! comes from the Internet slang abbreviation, meaning “Oh, my god!” which roughly translates to ‘Ya Elahi!’ in Arabic. I can see why they didn’t to attempt to translate and put it up. The translation would have probably stirred up a hurricane of controversy throughout the region.
The reason I say this is because gossip is considered Haram (against Islamic teachings) by many scholars from even the moderate side of the fence.
The move makes sense from a pure business perspective considering OMG! is the second most visited gossip website in US, maybe the guys from Maktoob hope the Arabic OMG! will be just as popular in the Middle East.
It also shows Yahoo! Maktoob are taking steps to cater to the increasingly important online Middle Eastern female consumer.
The design they went with is similar to other International versions of OMG! such as the Indian version instead of sticking to the look and feel of the original International version.
“Originally a news aggregator, OMG! has seen an explosion of user involvement as technology enables people to connect and voice their enthusiasm like never before,” commented Ahmed Nassef Vice President and Managing Director of Yahoo! Middle East.
“In this part of the world in particular, celebrity icons extend well beyond national borders to embrace the affection of people of all ages and backgrounds. Few opportunities exist for these audiences to congregate within one region-wide forum, and it is our goal to have OMG! Arabic serve as a locally relevant platform designed for the public and incorporating their views and opinions.”
Currently most of the region’s gossip goes on in forums which Maktoob also has a regional grip on. Maktoob plans on providing insight into whats trending in their forums on the Arabic OMG website as well.
This move is definitely a move on existing gossip and fashion platforms in the region such as Wikeez and MusicNation.me owned respectively by Diwanee and Rotana, which time will tell whether or not they’ll be able to compete with Maktoob on becoming the region’s leading source for gossip.