DUBAI // A student has launched a social networking site he hopes will revolutionise our shopping habits.
Mohamad Nour, 22, gained notoriety among his peers two years ago when he harvested hundreds of Facebook pictures to create a website on which people could rate whether students were "hot or not". It was modelled on Facemash, the site created by Mark Zuckerberg as a precursor to Facebook.
Mohamad's latest project is Shoutit, a site on which buyers are matched up with sellers according to their interests. It was launched in March, and has attracted more than 250,000 page views and 10,000 users. It already has a growing community of users in the UK, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the UAE.
Users send out "shouts" for products or services they want. They are then matched with sellers and notified by email from the system. Over time, users generate a shopping profile that enables businesses to target advertising at users.
"I want it to one day be the ultimate platform where people buy and sell online," Mohamad said. "Currently, all the shopping sites are still using the same old classifieds system. It doesn't matter where you live or what you have searched for before.
"If you are searching for something and you don't find it, you have to come back the next day and search for what's new. This system is very different, you just shout what you want and leave it to the system to find the best match, based on your location or your budget."
The start-up company, staffed by five recent graduates, has a small office in Media City and was funded by an anonymous investor.
Mohamad declined to comment on start-up costs, nor when the company was likely to break even.
"We're trying to build a community, get their feedback and make sure the system is stable even with hundreds of thousands of users," he said. "We want to make sure we have all that in place before we think about breaking even."
He said the company would eventually make money by renting businesses a profile whereby they could send out targeted offers based on potential customers' interests.
Mohamad, who is midway through study for a computer science degree, prefers not to be compared to Mark Zuckerberg. "Of course he is an inspiration in the way he built up Facebook," he said. "But I don't want to be like him. I just want to be me. He has his story, and I have my own."