Arabian Code's Journey: Adapting an AR Business to the Arab Market

Wael Nabbout, Feb 12 2013

One and a half years ago, Kassem Hashem decided to start the first augmented reality app development house in the region. With a background in hotel management, Kassem is a jack of many trades, having worked in graphic design, e-marketing and advertising as far back as the ‘Symbian days’, until one day he came across augmented reality. A technology that he thought was so impressive that he was convinced that it would prove to be an instant hit, and so he founded Arabian Code. He soon realized that that wouldn't be the case, so he went back to the drawing board to figure out how to make the AR business more appealing to the Arab market.

First things first, what is Arabian Code all about?

Arabian Code is a mobile app that utilizes AR technology to add value for print ads. The app can for example transform a small lifeless printed ad increasing its size to virtually occupy a full page and adding interactive features and animations. Check out the video below to see it in action.

The Arabian Code app is completely free, but the company charges for the QR codes instead, and here’s why:

Soon after he delved into setting up his startup, Kassem realized that his endeavor would prove more difficult than he had previously assumed. Online payment was, and still is, a hurdle in the region, advertising costs are high, and jail breaking is common place. All of this meant that selling the app straight to consumer would be too expensive, too cumbersome and profits weren't guaranteed. The answer to his predicament was shifting his business towards a B2B model.

A win-win situation

For businesses, developing and releasing an app involves development &  marketing costs. Arabian Code however is already available, so businesses don't need to spend any capital on development, and, as the app gains market share and becomes more popular over time, alleviates some marketing costs for businesses. All businesses need to do then is to pay a fee for the designs or animations, which incidentally also means a quicker process altogether.

Arabian Code was the 1st runner-up at ArabNet Riyadh. Watch Kassem pitch his startup to the judges and audience below.

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