ILQ logo evolution – look at how we’ve changed

version1 sirwal5

Thought this was pretty interesting. ILQ’s passed it’s 5 year anniversary and I thought it would be nice to look at how the ILQ logo has evolved! To many people, we’ve evolved the logo so subtly that you probably wouldn’t have noticed unless you see the logos side by side.

We’re at the point where we’re thinking if we need to mix things up a little with our logo as a whole, what do you think? Have any suggestions or design ideas you want to share?

 

logoevolution

Back from Eid – a little update on what’s new

I’m back from Eid after spending some time with a friend in London! I hope you’ve all had a great time too. I’ve been bad at keeping my blog up to date, but I’ve got a good reason! I’ve been working hard on partnerships with some great companies, creating loads of QTips with the team (thanks for all the support and helping us get loads of viewership by the way!), and we’re working on new shows, new series like our Top 10 lists on the website, working on the mobile version of ILQ and some amazing apps.

So yes I’ve got an excuse :)

We’re always looking for more people to join the ILQ team though, so if you’re enthusiastic, passionate, and want to make the world a better place, then let me know. We’ve supported LOADS of charitable causes since we started. We’re so proud that we’re a website that spends profit we get to help the community. That was always the goal. To create a great ecosystem where the community helped itself through our portal.

Thanks to the interns and volunteers that spend time with us, we managed to grow into a fantastic network that’s much bigger than just ILQ itself.

Having said that, bare with me and I hope we’ll be able to share some cool new stuff with you soon.

The NEW and IMPROVED ILQ Website is ready – How did I get there?

I’m super excited. This has been a project I’ve been working on for ages.

First let me explain where we came from. ILQ was a site that started out as a quick and general guide where I gave people insight as to life in Qatar. It started off pretty simple and as people appreciated hearing about Qatar from a Qatari, the platform grew. I wanted to create a site that people could  have input on. So when some people asked me to create a forum. A forum was created. When people asked for an events section. An events section was created. When people said they didn’t like how many links there were, we created a better menu structure. What had happened in quite a short period of time is that more and more people relied on the content that the site had. We grew exponentially. To cater to demand, I ended up having to literally piece different scripts together. Actually, the old ILQ was a mix of THREE different sites designed to be linked together. Honestly, I’d go as far as to say that in the back end, it was a Frankenstein of a site. It became really difficult to try and migrate to a new CMS because there wasn’t really anything that could handle what we wanted to do. Even more problematic was that we had so much content, it was hard to shift everything over without losing anything.

So then came the challenge from you all. I asked people what they wanted; a site that was faster, less sections, more organized, simple to use, and even easier to share. How do we create a brand new site and achieve all that? Honestly? We went through THREE developers to try and achieve what I had envisioned. I wanted a site looked clean, a mobile version (coming soon by the way), all the old links to still work, and to have a simple back end as well. I was so frustrated with some of the designs that were sent over by different companies, that I ended up putting designs and layouts together myself (self taught photoshopper here!).  The task wasn’t easy. In fact the first development company had to ditch the project because it was too much to handle! However I’m glad to say we found a great development and design team that understood exactly what I was looking for and they are amazing! (Shout out to Oliver and Daria!).

What made things super difficult was the fact that we never released focused on making money. Whatever profit I did get out of ILQ, I used to support charitable causes and the community. It was also hard getting funding and I resorted to spending what I had saved. At one point I had tried getting a loan from the bank but sadly it was hard selling a digital start up here in Qatar. Banks wanted to loan you funds for capital. Physical assets. We’re a digital company. I remember speaking to an incubation panel at one point and I was told “you need to decide, are you a business or a charity” (that was because I didn’t want to focus on money only and focus on the community). It was a turning point for me because I stood my ground and said “why can’t I do both? Why can’t I create a great business AND help others?”. I wanted to bridge the gap between expats and locals, create a resource where the community could share great content, and become a website that could people live (and enjoy) life in Qatar. So that’s where we are today!

The site is by no means perfect, there’s still a lot to do, I’m sure we’ll encounter issues and scramble to fix stuff, but we’ll get there. We’ll get to the point where everyone can be proud of what we’ve achieved. (That’s why I need all your feedback! Thread here: http://iloveqatar.net/forum/content/new-ilq-feedback)

So without further adieu, I now present to you some before and after shots of the site :D Blood, sweat and tears went into it, so inshallah you like it!

Homepage

Before:

 

After:

 

 

Events

Before:

 

After:

 

Restaurants

Before:

 

After:

 

 

There’s load more sections to check out! So please visit www.iloveqatar.net :)

ILQ Radio Demo – We need your feedback (you decide what to listen to)

Updated:

So we came up with this idea of creating a radio station. Something that’s Online at the moment and something focused on entertainment. We wanted to create something that could compliment the awesome QF Radio and focus on the community too.

We’re in the middle of recording some shows and right now we’re testing the capabilities of the streaming server.

This is YOUR chance to let us know what you want to listen to, what type of programming, and basically decide on the whole schedule. We’ve got some of our own ideas but we really need your help. Right now we’ve got ‘The People’s hour’, Random Event Highlights, J/K Pop hour, Bite Size news from Doha News, Sarcastology, and a few other suggestions like a Health and Wellness Show.

So in the comments section below, can you please post what you think about the quality of the audio and ideas that you have?

We’ll be updating the demo with more content so consider this Demo Beta Alpha 3 :D

To make your life easy so you can tune in any time, just visit http://radio.iloveqatar.net If you are on your iPhone, tap on ‘add to homescreen’. If you’re on an Android device, you can either visit the site OR download the app here (ILQ Radio APP).

Oh and help us out by tweeting and liking please. It takes a second of your time and will help us spread the word.

Thanks all!

- Mr. Q (Your friendly neighbourhood Qatari)


Click the link below to play ILQ Radio

Read the rest of this entry »

iLoveQatar’s YouTube Channel and the Communities Videos

Updated! Have you checked it out yet? No? Then check it out habayeb (that’s multiple of habeebee). http://www.youtube.com/iluvqatar

Since launching it, it’s reached almost 650,000 views, but the really cool thing is that we’re getting some awesome community submissions! I really do want to see more vloggers, animators, comedy, anything really, on YouTube. Here are a few of the latest submissions:

Follow Maryam Al Naemi on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MBA_AlN3aimi
Follow FilmForChange on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/filmforchange

Follow Alex on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/alexklim
Have a great Qatari related video you want to share with everyone? Let us know! Just send an email to contact -at- iloveqatar.net :)

Competition! Win 2 VIP tickets to see Akram Khan

ILQ has always been about the community. We have always loved showing what everyone can do to make Qatar a great place to work and live. With our new home at Katara, we were only just on the tip of the dunes (No icebergs as we are nowhere near a place that has snow :))

Katara has been buzzing over the past months with many activities, and they have partnered up with ILoveQatar for a giveaway. What could that be? How about 2 pairs of VIP tickets for Akram Khan Company’s ‘Vertical Road’ show as part of our ILQ sweepstakes? We’re giving two people out there a chance to win these highly coveted VIP tickets that puts you in prime seating to marvel at this show. You don’t want to miss this show, especially when it features music from acclaimed composer Nitin Sawhney (You’ll remember his performance from DTFF 2010)

How can you participate? It’s quite simple! We’re running this sweepstakes on Twitter.

Just follow these simple rules if you want a chance to win:
1. Participant must be a resident of Qatar.
2. You must be following @KataraQatar for your entry to count.
3. In addition to following, you must RT the giveaway tweet from @KataraQatar to enter into the draw.
4. You can also tweet about the sweepstakes, as long as it contains ‘@KataraQatar‘ and #AKC (We will be monitoring this hashtag for entries as well). This will count if and only if you have fulfilled (2).
5. The sweepstakes will last for 3 days.
6. Winner will be contacted directly via Direct Message and then announced on Twitter.
7. Winner must collect tickets 2 days after it is declared. Otherwise, another winner will be selected.
8. Employees of Katara and their families cannot participate in this sweepstakes.

What are you waiting for? Head over to @KataraQatar and follow them so that you can RT when they post it.

Let’s break a World Record!

I wanted to give you all a reminder on something fun we’re partnering with Luminescence events to put together. You’ve probably already seen all the tweets, posts, listings, and all that fun stuff, but since we’re getting so close to the event, it’s about time that we brought this back to the top of people’s minds.

There’s a lot of serious stuff in the world, so when Luminescence events told us they had this great idea, we had to be a part of it. It’s a chance for all of us to feel youthful again AND break a world record while we’re at it! It’s an attempt to break the world record for the largest game of Hide & Seek and it’s at Katara too! Isn’t that great? So come on down, and join us! Shout outs go to all the sponsors and partners including Katara, Qatar Red Crescent, and Stenden!

Hide & Seek Twitter
Hide & Seek Facebook
Event Listing on ILQ 

We’re getting there!

So Dine Out Doha has been getting off to a great start and the reviews and comments are starting to come in! Exciting stuff!

If you haven’t been yet, click here for Dine Out Doha. Be sure to start rating, commenting, posting micro-reviews or even submitting your full fledged restaurant reviews too!

Now you’ll remember we launched what we called the Beta of I Love Qatar at http://beta.iloveqatar.net (it’s actually an alpha). We did something special which was taking the link live even though it was still being built! We did that so that people could watch the site come together! Now the great news is that we should be around 2 and half weeks away from completion!

What’s even more exciting is that we’re going to revealing the awesome new MyLife function as well as the new ILQ Originals which will host a great amount of original content too! We’ve got some great Qatari comics, Online videos, skits, and some stuff that’s under wraps for the moment too.

In the mean while, you can go ahead and sign in (or sign up) in the beta section of ILQ and play around by posting events in the new event section or even start posting in the new forums.

(Don’t worry, you won’t lose anything once we remove the ‘beta’ tag from it).

Anyway! That’s my update!

iLoveQatar.net (and I) win two awards! update: four awards!

It’s been a tiring three days at QITCOM but I just had to blog about this as soon as I got home!

 

iLoveQatar.net won best start up for 2011 and I won Qatar’s Top Entrepreneur as well! I’m so honored  for winning but even more so I feel energized and appreciate the acknowledgement that the people gave. Not only was it a panel of judges that judged the various projects but the public were the ones who voted.

It was something unexpected.

I’m disappointed with the fact that I was unable to attend the Gala Dinner. It had started at 8pm however I was wrapping up the ILQ booth at QITCOM, left at 8:30 and then was stuck in traffic for 30 minutes before deciding to go off to Central Lounge with Bassam Al Ibrahim (iLoveQatar.net’s co-founder), Moh’d Al Ibrahim (an awesome Director or Producer from DFI), and Josh Weiner (A seriously impressive entrepreneur himself!). We were recapping everything we went through and thinking about all the new ideas we had just shared with everyone (more to come on that!).

Earlier in the day we were Interviewed by BBC World, had an interview with QF Radio and I was in the newspaper for unveiling Vodafone’s latest project SouqIt.com.

We also put together a little video showing off the other start ups and business in Qatar and interviewed some great people ourselves. On the first day of Qitcom, the Minister of Business and Trade came on down to our booth along with Sheikha Mayasa, and commented on how proud they were of iLoveQatar.net and even gave us some suggestions too.

I feel so pumped! I can’t wait to show everyone the final video of what we put together for Qitcom. It truly was an amazing exhibition, you would never know that this is the first time it’s ever happened in Qatar from how buzzed it was. And I’m not just saying that because I won an award!

Qatar really is the place to be right now.

 

Update: I’ve just been told that we’ve actually won FOUR awards. One for Best Social Media website in Qatar and the other for a brand new idea we have to help match quality Qataris with companies in Qatar. :)

ArabNet Day 1

Blog post by Josh from the ILQ team over at ArabNet in Beirut.

The first day at Arabnet is in the books. The day’s theme was focused on addressing the big question: How the Middle East region can better support an entrepreneurial ecosystem. According to Peter Kellner, Managing Partner of Richmond Capital, a global VC, it all starts with education. Universities are where entrepreneurs are created. After education, its about mentorship. Tareq from Endeavor Global, a global non-profit that promotes high impact entrepreneurship, put it another way:

“We’ve found that two things are required for a succesful entrepreneurial ecosystem – 1. the right entrepreneur and 2. deep and tailored support. The biggest barrier to entrepreneurship isn’t capital.”

Interesting stuff, and encouraging news for Qatar. Education City and Qatar University are churning out highly skilled graduates every year. Incubators are popping up for seed stage startups. How can Qatar offer “deep and tailored support” in addition to capital, back-end services, and office space?

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.