How the new Anonymous Messaging App Sarahah took the whole Internet by Storm : Meaning 'Honesty' in Arabic

Sarahah - Anonymous Messaging app

Saudi Sarahah app developer Zainalabdin Tawfiq could be missing for a college freshman, but the reputation of his "honesty" app has brightened a spotlight on the Kingdom's  of Saudi Arabia in the future of tech scene.

Tawfiq came to the limelight when he takes time of his day-job as a business analyst last year to develop an anonymous messaging app called Sarahah - which means honesty in Arabic - that finally ranked top in charts for app downloads.

Originally conceived as a tool for requesting bluntly honest feedback, Sarahah has found its way into the smartphones of universally, even as critics have raised the warning about trolling and privacy concerns. "Sarahah is the digital approach to the old-school suggestion box," 29-year-old Tawfiq told AFP.

"Feedback is the goal - anonymous feedback."

The app has a careful design and a simple prompt that encourages users to "leave a constructive message :)," with the receiver not allowed to reply but only yield it on social media or block the sender. Its enormous success stems from the taste in the Arab world - notorious for online censorship - for unfiltered platforms for the phrase, though Tawfiq said it has also gained a high acclaim in Western countries.

Such has been its ability to tap down social obstacles that barricade free expression that one user described it as an app where you can "hit enter on comments you would have unless backspaced."
Sarahah - top of the Apple app store

Sarahah has so far flown with 85 million registered users, and zoomed to the top of the Apple app store in some countries, leading of champions such as Snapchat and Instagram.

'Oil's decline, entrepreneurship's rise.' The new motto of Arabs world.

This Saudi app could gain such fame shows the hidden truth for tech innovation and entrepreneurship at a time of economic transformation in an ultra-traditional land.
"The success story of Sarahah shows that Saudi start-ups can score spectacular gains when correctly supported," said Nawaf Alsahhaf, CEO of Badir, a government-backed technology incubator that helped Tawfiq.

"There truly is positive potential behind Saudi startups we currently nurture," he told AFP.

Saudi Arabia is supporting private enterprise as part of its aggressive improvement program to move the kingdom away from its dependency on oil wealth. "It is evident oil's decline, and Entrepreneurship's rise is indeed twisted," the Beirut-based investment capital firm Leap Ventures drafted on its website last year, noting a new growth in disruptive tech shifts in the region.

A new race of Saudi start-ups - from an on-demand roadside help app called Morni to Hunger Station, a food order portal - have lately drawn the notice of investment investors.

Reducing abuse:- Tawfiq said he is in discussions with venture investors from the United States, China, and the Arab world, outwardly disclosing details, in response to critics who question whether his app can be efficiently monetized.
In some gender-segregated Arab cultures, men have used Sarahah for hidden love confessions, but it has also been used by service delivery organizations to collect the useful feedback and psychiatrists in far-away Mumbai to retain openly on subjects such as sexual health.

Sarahah has come under criticism for being a troll magnet - but Tawfiq said that issue was evident to all big social media platforms. It has also recently been accused of secretly harvesting the address books of users. Tawfiq denied that claim and said he plans to remove Sarahah's address upload function with the next version.

He now sale on a tight ship with another business partner and three customer support executives but is thinking about quitting his full-time job and focus on Sarahah platform only.

"I believe that even one case (of abuse) is too many," Tawfiq said. "I won't tell you how, but I aim to make the job of misusers as difficult as possible."

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