Start-up watch: FotoArabia

by  — 9 September 2015

Launched last year, FotoArabia is one of the largest Qatar-based stock photography websites specialising in Middle Eastern and Arabic-themed photography, offering high-quality royalty-free images worldwide. In an exclusive interview with The Edge, Tom Dibaja, managing director, FotoArabia, shares the intention behind starting the company, and what makes it different from other photographic agencies.

What was the idea behind starting FotoArabia?

FotoArabia was originally conceived by Qatari entrepreneurs Mohamed Jaidah and Abdul Salam Abu Issa who felt that the region lacked a reliable source for high-quality and affordable Middle Eastern images. As owners of several other ventures in the creative space, they had become acutely aware of this need and set out to address it by creating a dedicated platform to serve the market. FotoArabia opened its doors to the public in March 2014.


What have been the main challenges in setting up this company?

The overall challenges that FotoArabia has faced are similar to other early-stage businesses in the region. We have been fortunate to be able take advantage of the infrastructure of our parent company, Firefly Communications, which has helped us reduce time spent on admin-related issues, but recruitment of talent has been a challenge, and we have also had to do some work around introducing the concept of selling photography online to certain parts of the local photography community.


There are other stock photography websites present in this region. What is the USP of your company?

There are two main advantages of working with FotoArabia. First, unlike with other services in the region, all of our images are royalty-free and have no usage restrictions. This means that there is no need to keep track of complex licence terms or to worry about what can be used and where. Second, our prices are more affordable than those of other comparable services, and FotoArabia offers incredible value on bulk purchases.


What has the response been like so far from the market? What kinds of clientele do you cater to?

The response to FotoArabia has been universally positive, and we use customer feedback to continuously improve the service. Our clients range from individual graphic designers to creative agencies and large multinational companies worldwide.


How do you foresee the company evolving in the coming years?

Our immediate plans are to expand our image inventory to offer an even better selection of regionally relevant images to our clients and continue to grow the business.


What role are you looking to play in the growth of the media and publishing industry in Qatar or in this region?

We work with media companies and publishers regionally to help them create great content and great campaigns by providing access to high-quality Middle Eastern imagery at affordable prices. We see our role mainly as that of an enabler and partner to their activities.

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