Kuwaiti Net Mogul Launches Arab Online Political Forum
London, 6 July: Kuwaiti businessman Thunayan Khalid al-Ghanim (also known online as Elequa) is one of the foremost internet developers in the world.
Over the past decade his British Virgin Islands-based company Future Media Architects (FMA) has built up a portfolio of some 120,000 domain names, valued at over $3 billion. His top names include media.com, MultiMedia.com and Music.TV. And unlike most other internet investors seeking to profit from domain names, FMA is known for its rigid policy of refusing to sell the names it owns.
In London I caught up with Thunayan, an artist and sculptor before he turned internet entrepreneur, to ask him about the latest phase of his varied career - as a champion of free expression online in the Arab world.
As the Middle East and North Africa are convulsed by the fastest-moving period of revolutionary change in 60 years, Thunayan has launched Arabs.com, a website in Arabic and English that he intends to develop into a major online political forum.
As well as a general discussion area, the site has separate sections including women's rights, cultural affairs, an archive project collating historical political transcripts, and a section called Transparency, "for whistleblowers to expose scandals and secret files". Bloggers can also post their own articles or opinion pieces in a separate area.
"Arabs.com is a forum for Arabs by Arabs - and anyone around the world who is interested in Arab issues - from every segment of society, without bias or preference for one voice over another, to create their reality without censorship or guardianship, where each person is responsible for their exercise of free choice and expression," he explained.
No Political Ambitions
The launch of Arabs.com signifies "recognition of the power of the new citizen journalist generation", Thunayan said. It is a site committed to providing "a zone free of censorship for civil objective dialogue that excludes no one."
The site describes itself as "a platform for Middle East voices and those interested in and knowledgeable about the region". But it does not represent or support any political or religious group or party, and he has no personal political ambitions, the 41-year-old international "domain artist" insisted.Continued on the next page