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Emirati's Athkar prayer app for iPad wins 600,000 fans across Middle East

Fares Fares inspired to create free download because of the limited selection of Islamic applications available.

ABU DHABI // When Fares Fares bought his iPad three years ago, he was disappointed with the limited selection of Islamic applications available.

So he used his engineering background to create his own, a prayer app called Athkar, a user-friendly app for Muslims. What he did not expect was for it to become one of Apple's top apps three years later.

"I thought it was a good idea. At that time there was only one similar application for the iPhone," said Mr Fares, a 39-year-old Emirati from Ras Al Khaimah. "And for iPad no such application."

After a month designing and adding content, the app was made available for free downloading in 2010.

To date, it has 600,000 downloads - mostly during Ramadan.

In the first 20 days of Ramadan this year, it had 20,000 downloads, making it a "Hot App" in the Apple store for the UAE and Arab region.

"I wanted to do it just for people," he said. "I was surprised by the number of downloads. It's a simple, neat design, there's a lack of these kinds of applications."

The app offers daily Islamic prayers and allows users to set prayer reminders and Facebook or tweet prayer times. "It's something good for people," he said.

Many users have thanked him for his "good deed" in creating the app and have been surprised to learn Mr Fares is Emirati and created it from scratch. "My friend said his mother is always using it," he said.

When there were complaints of religious mistakes, Mr Fares bought Tohfat Al Thakireen, written by Mohammed Al Shokani, to make sure prayers were accurate.

In May, he launched a new app, aimed at encouraging charitable donations in the country.

The Khayr app is a list of charity organisations and text numbers to donate to. Mr Fares said the app is constantly updated, most recently to include the Clothe One Million Children campaign sponsored by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

In the past three months about Dh49,000 has been donated through the application, half of it during Ramadan. "It only takes three clicks to donate," he said.

There have been 2,000 downloads of the Khayr app, which is aimed solely at a UAE audience.

Mr Fares has no plan for more apps but he said he had received suggestions. "I was asked to do an Athkar app for children," he said. "I still have to find a cartoonist and see if this is possible."

The apps are available at AthkarApp.com and khayr.net

osalem@thenational.ae

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