Arabs Circle aims to become a LinkedIn for Arabic-speaking creatives, and more
In this week’s A New Angle, we meet the founders of a new networking platform and directory for individuals who speak Arabic and work in the creative industry and beyond, to discuss its benefits and challenges.
- Jenny Brewer
- 30 March 2021
A New Angle is an editorial series that aims to give a platform to creative industry changemakers who make it their mission to disrupt the status quo. Each week we’ll chat to a person or team doing important work in the sector, making it a fairer place, championing vital causes, supporting underrepresented groups and tackling pertinent issues facing creatives everywhere.
This week we hear from Muhannad Helvaci and Danyel Alkeddah, a digital product designer and software engineer, respectively, who together founded the networking platform and directory Arabs Circle. Seeing other platforms such as Latinx Who Design emerge, and spotting a demand for finding Arabic-speaking professionals on agency projects, the duo started the platform not only to act as a connector between talent and agencies but also to foster a supportive online community. Members are indexed by job role and skills, making it easier for them to be found and contacted, and a curated feed spotlights projects and other inspirational content.
It’s Nice That: What is your mission, and what about the creative industry are you hoping to change?
Muhannad Helvaci: There’s a serious lack of support for Arabic-speaking professionals in the world, and most of them are unknown to the public while they have unanticipated talent. Our mission with Arabs Circle is to make a reliable and trusted place for those individuals, to give them a place to connect, follow each other’s work, find mentors and potentially collaborate. We also want it to become a place for agencies to seek out Arabic-speaking professionals of all sorts of occupations to work on their projects. One of our goals is also to create an award that recognises the best work of Arabic-speaking creatives. It will be a meeting point where all creatives can find inspirational Arabic content and pass on the knowledge. We are committed to supporting the advancement of this industry in all its forms.
INT: Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to this point.
Muhannad Helvaci: I’m a product designer with seven years of digital experience. The idea started when I arrived in Turkey and met so many talented people who worked with big brands and companies. I was working in a big agency called minus99.com and we were getting Arabic projects from other big agencies in Europe and the UK, because the agency had two Arabic-speaking designers (me and the founder).
At that time latinxswhodesign.com got launched so I had the idea to make a website to index all the Arabic-speaking professionals.
Danyel Alkeddah: I’m a software engineer with six years of experience, focusing on solution architects and DevOps. I’ve developed a system that we call “Feed” which is a community-driven platform that crawls and references great online refined content published on personal blogs or other publications, to empower our community with content that’s worth their time. It will be personalised for every user as the internet has a vast amount of information and everyone can get overwhelmed and lost.
INT: What are the major challenges you’re facing, and why?
Muhannad Helvaci: One of the main challenges we are facing is recognition and reach. Even though there are initiatives that try to take the same path as ours on an Instagram page, Facebook group, or even Excel sheets, it’s not as effective. That’s why we wanted to create a website to index all those professionals, to be open to the public and easy to access. Our presence on social media is about earning people’s trust in Arabs Circle and every new post is a new record for us, but still, the numbers aren’t good compared to similar initiatives that spam your timeline. After earning the trust of our people and followers we hope to provide them with features that will serve their needs to expand the growth of our niche community.
INT: How are you tackling them?
Danyel Alkeddah: We worked on getting organic followers on social media by sharing authentic posts and animation for the categories we have to capture the targeted professionals. We have separated the social media account into two categories: 1. digital design and creativity (Facebook, Instagram); 2: business and startups (LinkedIn/Twitter). By separating, we’re growing two communities that will need each other’s services and help, so when we launch a feature such as a jobs board, we’ll already have a community that needs a professional for a specific task, and the professionals who can do that task. Apart from that, we’re notifying our users to use our hashtag to highlight their work on our page on Instagram. We evaluate every post that uses our hashtag and decide whether to highlight on our categorised Stories. Also, we started to collect some statistics from the users using Polls/Questions/Meters to get ideas of what our followers need.
INT: How can the creative industry help your mission?
Danyel Alkeddah: Generally, as the market grows and expands to reach the Middle East, we will be the link between businesses (who need an Arabic-speaking professional to complete a task/project) and qualified professionals on our website. We’re inviting every professional who speaks the Arabic language to sign up on our website and fill in their information to get listed among our qualified list. Follow us on social media to keep updated with the latest features and announcements that will support every one of you.