Babylon & Beyond

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MIDDLE EAST: New website lets Muslims and Arabs put best face forward online

February 21, 2010 |  8:28 am

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Ever wished your avatar was as stylish, devout or politically conscious as you are? Now it can be, with the new online service Wajhy, which allows users to customize their online persona with traditional Arab dress and accessories like a virtual keffiyeh.

Wajhy, which means "my face" in Arabic, offers a diverse selection of features, hair and skin colors as well as more culturally specific options including different styles of hijab (headscarves), niqab (face veils) and the shmagh, a traditional headdress worn by many Arab men.

The site, which was developed jointly by Remal IT in Saudi Arabia and Socool Entertainment in the United Arab Emirates, still has some kinks to work out.

For women, the only option under "makeup" is "none," and men's facial hair options are limited to unfortunate variations on the goatee. 

Additionally, certain accessories are incompatible with each other (apparently you can't play soccer and wear glasses at the same time).

More sites like Wajhy will emerge as the number of Internet users in the Arab world reaches an estimated 82 million by 2013, opening a huge potential market for social networking, online services and e-commerce.

Babylon & Beyond previously reported on the website, Muxlim Pal, which allows users to interact in a virtual world adhering to Islamic principles.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Screenshot: Wajhy allows users to customize avatars using both traditional and modern accessories like the hijab, or headscarf. Credit: Wajhy

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