Loujee, the first Arabic-speaking iOS app that powers a ‘smart’ educational toy for children, won the grand prize of $50,000 in the first-ever Arab Mobile App Challenge. In second place was Crowd Analyzer (UAE), the first fully-automated Arabic social media monitoring platform in the Middle East and North Africa, winning $30,000. Markabaty (Jordan), which helps car owners troubleshoot problems and find car workshops, won $20,000.
Loujee is a smart toy that appears to be missing its face. Users download the free app and activate it, then insert an iOS device into the plush to add a face. From there, a child can interact with Loujee in a number of ways, ranging from playing various games to telling jokes and simple stories.
Silatech, the Applied Innovation Institute, and Ooredoo, the co-organizers of AMAC 2014 have announced the winners of regional finals at a ceremony held in Ooredoo headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The teams who will compete in the global finals to be held at the Mobile World Congress later this month have also been announced in the same event.
Having started in November 2013, more than 150 teams from Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia have competed in the contest, developing mobile apps that address specific needs in education, healthcare, entrepreneurship or employability, and entertainment. A key opportunity to promote entrepreneurship, start-up businesses, and technology-based career skills for Arab youth, the contest showcased innovative ideas that impressed the jury, reads the official press release.
The top-ranked team from each of the five countries will now compete on the global stage at the next University Mobile Challenge at the Mobile World Congress, to be held in Barcelona at the end of February. These teams are: ICAPS (UAE), an intelligent profile managing app; Baharat (Saudi Arabia), a social network for people who love to cook; EduTechnoz (Qatar), an app that provides gamification for learning Arabic; The Pen (Jordan), which improves the quality of writing on tablets; and Grant Fit (Tunisia), which adopts an Insulino++ approach for managing insulin doses.
The mobile apps that were not selected to advance to the Mobile World Congress are also to be considered by several incubation organizations across the region.
Martin Roeske, Chief Programs Officer at Silatech, said the Arab Mobile App Challenge is designed as a catalyst to help develop innovative young entrepreneurs in a rapidly-expanding technology sector and to provide them with opportunities to present their companies to potential investors.
In January, each of the five countries hosted a local Mobile App Challenge, and sent its three finalist teams to the regional finals in Doha, Qatar. Each team, with up to six members, all younger than 35, was matched with a mentor who provided advice on business and app design, and developing the app into a viable and sustainable business.
About half of the customers in the Middle Eastern and North African markets where Ooredoo operates are young people. While the Arab region is already well advanced in terms of internet usage and smartphone penetration, the number of tailored and commercially-successful Arabic language apps still remains scarce.
Organizing committee aims to enrich the next edition of the contest and expand the geographic scope across the Middle East and North Africa.