I had a leisurely coffee with Qatari from QL last Thursday. We were talking about the state of the IT sector in Qatar, and generally solving the world's problems. Anyway, he was hassling me saying I should have some sort of commercial project, because there was money to be made.
I'm a bit skeptical about making money from websites. There were a lot of good ideas during the dot-com boom that produced no cash. He started quoting some figures about google ads, and how little you need to spend on hosting. Anyway, I went home that night and had a chat with Sara about it.
There's a gap at the moment for serious local news. QL and others serve the demand for informal chat, but the local papers have abysmal websites and mainstream news sites don't cover Qatar. Thus, I'm going to start up a news site, named Qatar Journal. The official launch will be on 12 May 2007 (exactly one month after my chat with Qatari) - it will be rough around the edges, but it's better to launch quickly and fix things as we go along.
Basically, there's going to be no editorial. The easiest way to scare advertisers is to start getting cynical about press releases, so I'm going to leave all discussion to the readers. Obviously, there's going to be an editorial element in choosing stories, and here I have an advantage over the newspapers' sites: I only need to pick around 10 stories a day, whereas they are publishing (almost) everything.
Anyhow, I just wanted to blog this before anyone starts asking - "why are you trying to compete with QL?". I'm not. I'm a regular QL reader, and it's great. Qatar Journal is an online local newspaper, and when it generates its own community, it will have a very different tone to QL. Hopefully, some readers will visit both sites, but I would guess that most QL regulars will stick with what they know - I'm not trying to poach anyone.
Let me know what you think about the site, and keep an eye on progress. Everything should be working very soon, but it'll take a couple of weeks to get the site looking professional.
Also, discovered Alexa today. Here is an image snapshot of Qatar websites (April 2007), and a permalink for future comparison.