Arabic-language website Mawdoo3.com says it has secured a $13.5 million series B round, led by U.K.-based Kingsway along with U.S.-based Endure Capital. Founded in 2010, Jordan-based Mawdoo3.com is akin to an Arabic language Wikipedia.
The company reports it has nearly 150,000 articles online covering topics ranging from lifestyle, health, education, food and beyond, which combine to attract 45 million unique monthly users—which the company claims makes it the world’s most-visited Arabic website.
The company is targeting a promising space. Although the Arab world has demonstrated a remarkable appetite for spending time online, particularly on social media, very little of overall content is produced in Arabic (according to Mawdoo3.com, just 1% of web content is in Arabic, despite the language having 420 million speakers).
"The world’s Arabic speakers are the most underserved online, with the availability of quality Arabic content limited and technology, particularly in voice, not having the same impact as other languages,” said Rami Al-Qawasmi, co-founder and CEO of Mawdoo3.com.
With the investment, Mawdoo3 intends to continue adding more online content, while exploring uses of AI technology. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to launch "Salma," an Arabic version of Siri and Alexa, which will be used to answer factoid questions from Mawdoo3's users. It will also have business applications, with Salma able to act as an Arabic voice interface service for businesses in sectors including travel, automotive, telecom and electronics, enabling consumers to engage and transact with these businesses through its voice assistant.
“If you think being the number one Arabic destination worldwide with more than 45 million monthly unique visitors is enough, think again: this is just the beginning. Mawdoo3's unique data sets and technical talents give them a head start on the AI race,” said Tarek Fahim, a partner at Endure Capital, which is an early-stage VC fund founded in Palo Alto, California in 2015.
Previously, Mawdoo3 reportedly received $1.5 million in funding in 2015.