This is an interview with an internet start-up guy living in Dubai. This interview is meant to unleash his digital lifestyle; in addition to few insights about the interactive media industry in Middle East.
Tarek: Fouad Masoud, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Fouad: First off thank you Tarek for giving me this opportunity to unleash my geeky lifestyle. Since late 90’s I’ve been working on web design and user-interfaces for renowned brands in the Middle East. Back in the days I witnessed the browsers wars and thank God I managed to live through it. I also have a start-up spirit so I have my own internet start-up. I’m currently working at MBC Group – New Media department.
Tarek: What’s your life motto?
Fouad: Everything comes and goes, what’s important is health.
Tarek: Good for you, I still don’t have it in my dictionary; how old are you Fouad?
Fouad: Your question came at the right time, I’m turning 27 very soon and I have a wish list on amazon.com if anyone is interested in buying me gifts http://www.amazon.com/wishlist/2LUN5FEGPH35D
Tarek: You just found an excuse to share the wish list. There is a story behind each geek, what’s your story?
Fouad: The common story for any geek. I got introduced to the web at an early age back then the internet was thought to be Yahoo! At that time I was fascinated by websites and I challenged myself with no tools or knowledge into building my own HTML website in 1998, that was the time when people used to think that computers are for super heroes.
So in a sense you can think of me as a web geek, I have a touch of computer geekness, and I kinda like games specially online/multiplayer’s games
Tarek: So you were a Super Hero since then… How do you practice this geeky super hero power?
Fouad: I cast spells on people :D. Seriously, I keep experimenting with new technologies at home like websites and WP applications and iPhone apps, I spend hours and hours yet only few of them see the light, the rest see’s the darkness of my black hard drive.
Tarek: Like usual, a geek either acts weird or funny: which one are you?
Fouad: My friends say I’m weird, I think I am funny in a weird way. What do you think Tarek?
Tarek: Well, I think this is a weird answer. I will think about it.
Fouad: Take a look at this Youtube video, to me it’s extremely funny http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtPb8g8Jl6I while my friends think it’s a weird-lame; but one thing I’m sure about I speak/have more to say at geeks’ hangouts.
Tarek: Which project you are most proud of doing/ or being a part of it as a geek?
Fouad: Of course my own start-up, I heavily spent my time and money and I definitely think it’s my flagship – wasfati.com – an Arabic cooking portal for the Middle East, has been picked up by Arabs quite quickly. Also, talabia.com is among the top list.
Tarek: So you are a technology entrepreneur… then what do you see missing among technology entrepreneurs and geeks in the UAE community?
Fouad: The technology community lacks entrepreneurial spirit and motivation. Most of the community members are busy with their full-day job which keeps them working non-stop away from having something to let their creativity grow (And that goes for me as well). UAE in simple words is not a start-up friendly environment.
Tarek: I agree with you, it’s not just about start-up visa that can help this environment. Then what about the Silicon Valley of the Middle East, aka Jordan?
Fouad: I love this question, I can say Yes! Yes! Yes! Jordan has all it takes to be the next Silicon Valley; they have the mindset, the support, the reach, the global exposure. I was fortunate enough to work with some people from Jordan whom, given the right opportunity, would change the face of the web sphere. And no doubt, Yahoo!-Maktoob deal, is something to be proud of and proves that Jordanian technology startups are heading the right way.
Tarek: It seems you are quite confident that everything is in place for Jordan to prosper; it’s a matter of time. Tell me, what is your fantasy job?
Fouad: My quick and only answer: to have wasfati.com as my full time job, I see my future there.
Tarek: Then who is your geek freak?
Fouad: So many people have influenced/taught/helped along the way:
- Amal Ayyash – Great manager she can be found on shut.elmota.com/
- Karim Arafat – Aspiring entrepreneur from watwet.com
- Omar and Alaa Abed Alhaq geeks-in-total and great friends
- Rida Al Barazi – Tech entrepreneur
- Laith Zraika – A mind like no other from Jeeran.com
Tarek: And what’s your favorite geek app?
Fouad: Oh, Coda is magic.
Tarek: The Geo-location apps are growing, taking it to our interview what’s your relaxation geo-locations?
Fouad: Checking-in: a small farm of ours in Palestine. Checking-in: my friends’ basement in Amman. Checking-in: Inferno Marina Walk for the best coffee and shisha.