In the Arab world, you need to multiply all logistical and organizational challenges of a marriage by a factor of ten, in order to also account for cultural and religious matters. Despite, huge organizational challenges there are many young Arab women who marry annually, not least because Arabia is demographically the youngest region in the world. One survey conducted in 2008 by IIR Middle East during a Bride’s Show in Dubai revealed that 24% of brides in the UAE plan to spend up to US $140,000 on their wedding and 20% planned to spend even more. In 2008, despite the impact of the global recession, the average cost of a Dubai wedding was US $82,000. The wedding industry is estimated to cost around $500 million annually with over 8,000 Arab weddings taking place only in the UAE.
In brief, there was a huge/growing demand to drastically simplify, streamline and save time/effort spent on preparing for a marriage and it was not met.
Until 2008, Emirati women had to spend many months preparing for their weddings. Brides-to-be would need to look for and go through many local websites as well as go and visit shops, food caterers, etc. This was a challenging task taking lot of time and money.
Then Yebab.com came around. “Yebab” is the loud celebratory whistle that Arab women make at weddings, expressing joy and happiness. Yebab is a free, wedding planning portal that is both in Arabic and English and offers a wide range of services. It provides brides-to-be with an extensive directory consisting of 22 categories and a list of shops that has gone from 30 in 2008 to over 1,400 in 2012. As Yebab was founded in UAE, it also offers services unique to the Emirati culture such as the wedding stage, cultural entertainment and wedding hospitality service. Yebab also offers administrative tools/methods on various ways of budget control.
Murshed Mohamed Ahmed, founder of Yebab, identified one of important challenges, that of choosing a “preparation room.” This room is where a bride gets ready for her wedding, usually located in a hotel, marriage hall or a restaurant. With privacy and discretion being a priority for local brides, the location of this room and the walk they take to get to the main reception is often a high priority. Questions about preparation room are asked every time a bride contacts a hotel and is something the bride is keen to know about. But, according to Mr. Ahmed, many hotels and wedding planners usually don’t have comprehensive or even satisfactory answer to that question.
Yebab’s solution to this particular problem is to film the preparation room and the walk from the room to the main event for each of vendors who offer their services via Yebab. The video shows what an image of a preparation room wouldn’t be able to show, and this proved very popular with brides. [sam id="11" codes="true"]
While Yebab is not the only one offering wedding related services in UAE (whiteme.net and dubaiwed.com), it is the only one in Arabic (in addition to English) and in less than 12 months after National Net Ventures invested in (August 2010) and incubated it, its traffic grew tenfold, tripled its pageviews, and doubled its revenue.
Yebab.com is currently partnering with more than 130 wedding service providers. Since recently Yebab also started catering for the Saudi Arabian and Egyptian markets. It generates revenues based on partnerships (wedding services vendors paying a fee – starting at around $1,000 a year and rising according to the size and scope of the vendor – to have a dedicated page on the Yebab website) and ads displayed on its website.
So did Mr. Musher find a success recipe in the Arab world? His pragmatic advice to any would-be entrepreneur is to solve a real-world problem, be ready for unexpected problems and difficulties; but be ready and optimistic to solve them!