The service will be the region's first locally produced Arabic and English direction finder.
Ayna launches free mobile mapping service
Ayna, the Arabic-language search engine, has launched the first locally produced Arabic and English mobile mapping service. The application, unveiled this month, uses GPS technology on the latest-generation mobile phones to give directions and maps to points of interest from the user's location. "This is a pioneering application in terms of added-value features for mobile users in the Arab world," said Mazen Halawi, the corporate sales manager for Ayna Corporation. "It contains detailed information about all major Arab cities and capitals, with numerous points of interest which are searchable." The service is available for all types of phones except the iPhone and can be downloaded in two formats, for keypad and touch-screen phones, free from the Ayna website. Points of interest would be updated regularly and users could send directions to their favourite spots to friends through SMS, Mr Halawi said. "It will be a great value-added medium for advertisers who seek local advertisements, like banks, restaurants, points of sale, and others," he said. The application will soon add satellite images, which will allow users to view areas in maps, satellite and a hybrid view. The application has been downloaded 12,800 times in its first week, Mr Halawi said. It works in a similar way to Google Maps but has the added advantage of routing, or step-by-step directions to a destination. "They [Google] have the routing for all other countries but not for the Middle East," Mr Halawi said. Ayna, which started in 1997, ranks just behind Google as the most-used search engine in the region. It launched its online version of its mapping service in November and has more than 50,000 points of interest logged into its Arabic maps so far. firstname.lastname@example.org