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The Islamic way to a safe search

Allan Jacob (Senior Editor)
allan@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 15, 2010

DUBAI — Turn on your safe search and blank out explicit content using Imhalal.com (www.imhalal.com) , the world’s first Islam-oriented engine now serving 300,000 unique queries daily.

The site attracts 70,000 unique visitors per day, with users from the Middle East and Asia driving growth, and the search engine’s young CEO says he could move base to Dubai.

Speaking to Khaleej Times from Amsterdam, Reza Sardeha, the 21-year old founder of the year old Website sees Dubai as an engine for expansion plans. ‘‘We’re looking to move our headquarters to Dubai or Kuala Lumpur. At the moment, Dubai has our preference but we’re still trying to figure out whether the tech infrastructure is optimal enough for our venture or not.’’

Traffic is driven by surfers from Pakistan, United States, Indonesia, Malaysia and the UAE, and it’s only natural for Dubai as a finance and cultural hub to come into the picture. Most search is a cultural thing, feels Reza, who denies his project is building more walls on the World Wide Web. But limited restrictions are okay to stop surfers from accessing certain pages.

The Web may be evolving according to users’ demands. Then why set a moral code? “While we’re absolute advocates of Net-neutrality and freedom, we are also strong advocates of moral development and freedom from pornography,” says the Net entrepreneur of Kuwaiti-Iranian origin.

“Blocking Internet users from accessing valuable information that might run against an opinion, political movement or religion is something we strongly condemn.”

On the Website, users can plug in a ‘haraam level’, which indicates the chances of the results they bring up touching upon things forbidden under Islam, with pornography having the highest warning rating of three.

Imhalal is happy pioneering the integration of self-learning search algorithms that mimic human emotions and the way we think to power these algorithms.

The focus is to develop revolutionary new search technologies that solve search problems. ‘‘Alternative search engines are built for the great mass, which makes them extremely mainstream oriented, while search is mostly culturally biased. This means that search algorithms should calculate the culture, mindset and lifestyle of the user in the determination process of relevancy.’’

As for revenue, the search engine begins testing its advertising platform in two weeks with some high profile brand names. “We’re confident to hit a RPS(Revenue per 1,000 searches) of 1/5 of Google’s already in the first quarter of 2011.”

A couple of big portals in the Middle East are also set to use I’m Halal’s search technology from December this year through distribution partnerships.

“We believe the future of search is vertical. Basically, vertical search engines are “specialised” search engines. For example a flight search engine like cheaptickets.com (www.cheaptickets.com) has specialised itself in helping its users search for flights in the most effective way.”

The target is to garner 72 per cent of the regional search market in three years’ time. Makes sound business sense. Nothing haraam about that. — allan@khaleejtimes.com

author

Allan Jacob

A news junkie with an abiding interest in foreign affairs. I'm a keen follower and learner of the media and how it will pan out in the future when the common man and woman will themselves be journalists and not just sources of information. Lead a team of bright journalists who are driving the change and have their feet on the ground.


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