Gallup Opens Abu Dhabi Center

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Polling giant Gallup has opened a new social research center in Abu Dhabi headed by a U.S. government appointee. But the center’s affiliation with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Court has ramifications for public diplomacy.




Gallup, the management consultancy best known for its polling service, has opened a new social research center in Abu Dhabi headed by a U.S. government appointee. The center’s affiliation with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Court is a diplomacy coup for the country, but it raises questions about the limitations of doing research in a constitutional monarchy.

The Abu Dhabi Gallup Center is scheduled to open this fall, specializing in research and analysis of both the Persian Gulf region and the larger Muslim world. Described in a press release as a “partnership” between Gallup and the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, the Gallup Center is one of the polling agency’s first collaborations where a foreign government has a stake in operations. Although the Crown Prince Court is nominally independent, in practice it is a government agency.

Gallup’s Eric Nielsen confirmed in an interview with Fast Company that the Crown Prince Court has provided funding for the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, but further specifics were not immediately available. Nielsen emphasized that Gallup will have full editorial control over reports and projects coming out of Abu Dhabi, with the Crown Prince Court primarily being limited to “assisting on topic selection.”

The Abu Dhabi Gallup Center will be headed by Dalia Mogahed, currently chair of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. Mogahed is also currently a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, where she serves as an advisor to President Obama on Muslim affairs. Members of the Advisory Council are appointed to one-year terms; Mogahed is serving on the 2009-10 council. Advisors for 2010-11 have not yet been announced.

A number of American researchers and analysts will be working alongside Mogahed in Abu Dhabi this fall, with approximately 10 initially headed overseas. In addition, Gallup has been hiring locally. The Gallup Center Abu Dhabi will be working under the supervision of the more well-established Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.

First on the agenda for the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center is a follow-up report to “Who Speaks for Islam?” The massive 2008 project is described by Gallup as the result of “tens of thousands of interviews with residents of more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have significant Muslim populations.” Co-written by Mogahed and Georgetown University’s John Esposito, the updated edition will reflect data compiled by Gallup from 2007-10. The report is slated for a late November release.

Other projects at the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center will parallel goings-on at other Middle East branches of western think tanks such as the Brookings Doha Center or International Institute for Strategic Studies Bahrain: According to Hassan Hassan of UAE paper The National, the Gallup Center will have a full slate of seminars and events.

Abu Dhabi’s neighboring frenemy, the emirate of Dubai, is unlikely to be happy about the news: The higher profile-but-financially-ailing city is already home to Gallup’s Middle Eastern headquarters. Gallup’s Dubai office will continue to stay open.

Public diplomacy experts see interesting smoke signals coming out of the Abu Dhabi center. Paul Rockower of the University of Southern California’s Public Diplomacy Corps project notes that Gallup’s affiliation with the Crown Prince Court may give them wiggle room on their operations: “If they’re established with the Court, Gallup might get some leeway from the government to ask more interesting questions but it really varies country-by-country. In-country polling firms are very careful as they know what will get them in trouble and they know where they can bend the rules.”

Rockower also emphasized that landing Gallup was a major public diplomacy coup for both Abu Dhabi and the Emirates: “It lets Gallup create a broader global presence and lets the Emirates, and Abu Dhabi in particular, further brand itself as a Gulf hub of research and scholarship. The Emirates has been working for a long time to conduct public diplomacy via nation branding to highlight its internationalist credentials. This is just one more piece of that branding push.”

For Abu Dhabi, bringing Gallup to the Emirate is just the latest in a series of savvy public diplomacy moves. The Crown Prince Court just donated $1 million to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for Middle Eastern projects and the larger Abu Dhabi government has taken on even more ambitious projects: Their collaboration brought New York University to Abu Dhabi and generous donations to American causes.



Google Launches AdWords Blog for the Arab world

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Adwords is google’s goldmine where it gets most of its revenues, to those who do not know it allows small and midsize business to advertise on google search engine or via its Adsense partners’s websites using text based ads.

Google ads can be paid based on clicks or impressions, and they have greater targeting options because they are context aware, meaning that you can target an ad based on a certain keyword, to simplify it: if people are looking for Milk and you sell link, your ad will show when users search for the keyword “Milk” on google.

For the Arab world, google has introduced a number of features such as location targeting in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Now google has gone another step by introducing its adwords blog for the Arab world where its says users will get new features, tips and tricks and case studies.

The blog is in English and Arabic and would be helpful for online markers in the Arab region. And is another example of how global tech companies are using social media to reach out to their audience. However we wonder why google call’s it: Adwords MENA Blog in English, while in Arabic it calls it “google Adwords in the Arab world.”

This is the Arab world NOT MENA, most Arabs do not like to be named and coined colonial names . We hope google will rename the english version and keep its English and Arabic names constant.


GoSolo Entrepreneurial Workshop: Raising Capital for Your Startup

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Tadem, the Dubai-based business advisory company, will be hosting a 5th installment ofGoSolo at The Shelter in Dubai, today Wednesday October 13th, 2010 at 7PM.

GoSolo is a series of entrepreneurial workshops organized by tandem and that aim to help and guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the different challenges of launching a startup and give them answers to all their various questions.

This month’s session, titled ‘Raising Capital for Your Startup‘, will include a discussion led by the founders of tandem, Rabih Brair and Amir Farha on the industry, and insights on what investors are looking for in today’s market. The topics include the regional investment landscape, the selection criteria that investors look at and a Q&A session with one of the founders of Duplays.

The inclusion of Q&A sessions are meant to provide a good opportunity for attendees to engage with other Dubai-based entrepreneurs and learn from their real-life experiences and practical advice on starting a business in the region.

Past workshops have provided an overview of the entrepreneurship ecosystem, and tackled the issue of evaluating a business idea, writing a business plan and understanding the financials in the context of a start-up. Over 120 people have attended the workshops so far.

The presentations from the previous workshops can be found on SlideShare here: GoSolo Workshop Presentations.

Attendance at the GoSolo workshop can be confirmed by emailing The Shelter on

Tandem, the organizer of these events, is a business advisory firm targeted at startups and SME’s in the region. Their goal is to help entrepreneurs through guidance and mentorship and a range of services such as business plans, feasibility studies, financial forecasts and market research. Tandem also facilitates access to capital for its clients through its network of investors. The company has been involved in the launch of several growing startups such as Toolman Maintenance Services, Cherry on Top Events, Ignite Fitness and Wellness, and Klipp Media Monitoring.


Yamli Transliteration Application Launched For iPhone And iPad

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Yamli, the startup that specializes in smart transliteration technologies for the Arabic Web, just unveiled its new official iOS application for the iPhone and the iPad, bringing their technology to their users while on the move on their mobile phones and tablets.

The app is priced at $2.99, works mostly offline, and is pretty straight-forward in how it works. Once a user clicks on the purple Yamli logo, a text area opens up for the user to type in the text they want transliterated into Arabic; this text can then be sent as an SMS or an email message.

Using the app too, users can perform web searches, as well as specific searches on YouTube, iTunes and Maps. Obviously the search options would require an internet connection to work.

This move comes as a continuation of Yamli’s push to spread their transliteration technology across different platforms. They’ve previously released browser plugins for Chrome and Firefox, a Facebook app, and iGoogle gadget as well as an API and their enterprise search platform, all in order to make it easier for users to type and use Arabic text online.

The application can be found on iTunes here: Yamli Arabic Keyboard App.

The following is a video that was shared by Yamli showing how the application works, which should help in making the decision whether to shell our the $2.99 to get it or not.