The Muslim world will have its own social networking site this summer. SalamWorld, a cleaner, Islam-centered alternative to Facebook, aims to reach 50 million users within the next three years.
“The high-profile launch of SalamWorld is set for sometime in July this year in the Turkish city of Istanbul to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan,” said Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, chairman of the SalamWorld board of directors, in a special interview, here.
Abdul-Vakhed pointed out that the site will be available in eight languages including English, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, and Russian. Abdul-Vakhed is currently visiting Saudi Arabia with a delegation from SalamWorld to interact with Saudi officials, Islamic scholars and businessmen to seek their endorsement and to generate moral and financial support for the project. A local businessman Fahad Abdullah Al-Rajhi, who is a member of the SalamWorld executive, is one of the hosts for the delegation.
Ahmad Azimov, SalamWorld’s deputy chairman; Nurserik Kudereyev, CEO; and M. Zahran, GCC regional director, attended the press briefing. The delegation has had talks with senior officials of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, officials of the Muslim World League (MWL) and a few other prominent Islamic scholars during their stay in the Kingdom.
Spelling out the features of the SalamWorld project, Abdul-Vakhed said: “Some 300 million Muslims use the Internet, and about half use social networks. Unfortunately, none are managed by Muslims,” adding that the plan is to tap into the large number of Muslim Internet users. The major difference between SalamWorld and other social networks will be the filtering of “offensive” content like pornography, and anything inciting terrorist activity or human rights violations, he said.
He pointed out that SalamWorld will be a far cleaner version of Facebook. By “filtering out harmful content and ensuring that its pages uphold and respect family values, SalamWorld can be described as ‘Halal Facebook’, the new social networking phenomenon,” he noted.
Referring to the growing popularity of social networking sites, Abdul-Vakhed said there are currently more than 800 million Facebook users around the world, 300 million of whom are Muslims. This number is expected to increase by 100 percent in a few years. Hence, the platform has been developed with the aim of providing a website for Muslims to interact with each other online, he added. He said any political movements or countries do not support the project.
SalamWorld users will be provided many applications, including a vast collection of books on Islamic heritage in a number of eBook formats, certified distance learning programs tailored to various levels of education, and interactive sessions with recognized scholars, qualified experts and consultants. A multilingual online Islamic encyclopedia will be available in interlinked pages created by multiple users.
“In fact, we want Muslims to engage with technology instead of cursing it as evil,” said deputy chairman Azimov. He said: “As a Muslim, religion and business are not separable…whatever you do for business has to be in line with your religious principles and values.”
“Part of its goal is to provide a better picture of Islam to non-Muslims,” said Azimov
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