It seems that Google’s woes over its decision to leave the Persian Gulf nameless on Google Maps are far from over, with Iran saying it will sue the tech company as a result, AP reports.
After the move stirred up quite a bit of controversy among Iranian Internet users, the Iranian government was quick to call out Google for its decision, accusing the company of fabricating lies, adding that the move would not do much to engender trust among its users and “diminish the corporation’s credibility.”
Speaking to the BBC, Google’s stance was to stay out of the matter, claiming that it’s not the only unnamed item on the maps.
Clearly not convinced with the justification, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast stated that Google was liable to “serious damages”, and speaking to Iranian news agency Mehr, he added that Iran has made it clear that they are more than willing to take the matter to court.
The topic has proved to be a highly controversial and politicized one, with Gulf and Arab states choosing to refer to the body of water as the Arabian Gulf, while Iranians insist on standing by the historical Persian Gulf.
Google may have chosen to bury its head on the sand on this one, as a way of simply staying out of the argument, but the stance may have brought the tech company more trouble than it bargained for.
Google is no stranger to controversy in Iran, having its products periodically blocked, and most recently Gmail is among the many foreign email services which have been blacklisted for correspondence with Iranian banks, insurance firms and more.
Online private sales burst onto the scene a few years ago in the shape of Vente Privee in Europe and, later, Gilt in the US. It’s a model we all know and love – and it’s rapidly proving a model with which emerging economies are, well, rather obsessed. I was just recently in Istanbul where you can almost throw a stone and be sure of hit a private sales startup entrepreneur. And from there, and across the Middle East and North Africa (known as MENA), online businesses are growing like weeds.
And some investors know it. Thus today MarkaVIP, a runaway private sales success story in the Middle East has completed a $10 million Series B funding led by European venture firm Prime Ventures. It’s joined buy participation from New York City-based Invus Financial Advisors (IFA), Antwerp-based Hummingbird Ventures, and San Francisco-based Lumia Capital.
The cash will be used to expand MarkaVIP’s current operations and marketing, and expand into other parts of the Middle East, specifically the region known as the Gulf states, of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to its friends.
Ahmed Alkhatib, founder and CEO, MarkaVIP says the company pursued the funding to “focus on decreasing product delivery lead times and improve quality across the board.”
If you’re unfamiliar with MarkaVIP, was founded in Jordan in November 2010 by Alkhatib and Amer Abulaila, MarkaVIP’s CTO.
Since its launch in Jordan and Saudi Arabia in November 2010 and expansion across the GCC and Lebanonit’s garnered 1.5 million registered users and is adding around 5,000 new members per day.
Here’s a few stats for ya: The MENA apparel and accessories market is worth US$15 billion/year. But right now almost all of it is offline. Additionally, there are only 77m Internet users in MENA (excluding Turkey) right now with an overall Internet penetration of 30%, but this is still growing fast. Plus, there are 36m Facebook users in MENA (and this grew 30% in the last 6 months). So there is a huge opportunity here.
But MENA is not ALL about e-commerce, and that’s a theme I’ll be returning to soon, so watch this space…