UAE iPhone app 'Kalimat' shortlisted for global award

Kalimat is a word game. “Something like Scrabble, but with some new features,” explains Fares Fayad, the Lebanese app designer based in the UAE. “You just need to form words as quickly as possible, because there is a three-minute time limit.”

Fares cannot deny being an Apple fan. Ever since the product was on the market, he committed himself to it and thus became an expert user. Gaming especially led to whole new level when the iPhone hit the market. “I just get hooked onto it with the iPone.

A couple of years later his name was connected with one of the most popular word games played on iPhone. The app is nominated for the ‘Best Board Game’ and the ‘Best Word Game’ and in just about one day users all over the world will bring out their votes.

“I wanted to turn my expertise and ambition for these products into a business, so I started designing apps,” says Fares explaining how the Kalimat game became a product linked to his name. But, he admits, his wife has a share in it. “She found something missing in the conventional word games; it was then that I came up with the idea of a timer, taking away chances of using help.”Driven by his ambition, Fares soon got to meet people willing to look into his ideas. AppsArabia, a mobile app fund set up by Abu Dhabi's twofour54 media hub to encourage the local mobile app-market, responded enthusiastically by offering funds needed to develop the game and published the iPhone application in February last year.

“It was their first publication of a mobile app. Their condition was it be a game that could be used on the local market. So I decided it should be developed in both English and Arabic.” But believe it or not, the game is played in English more than it is in Arabic in the UAE, adds Fares.

Quality is most important, if you ask Fares and he credits the developer that decided to make Fares’ ideas a reality. “Pyranha Bite was the right choice of developer, because of the quality the company emphasizes. There are many companies in the region that compromise quality. The design is not always perfected, and the games crash a lot. Then they are on the market for low prices, and this is a pity.”

Although most app-users are still based in the US, the mobile apps-market is a rising sector in the region for both users and developers and if this market continues to grow, a full-time living could be managed by the craft. “Right now it is a business that I share with contributors such as AppsArabia, but in the future I plan to publish new apps independently. I would not mind having this as a full-time job.”

Fares says he enjoys playing the game himself and is honoured to be nominated. Irrespective of whether the app wins the title or not, “its name now stands next to that of famous games such as Scrabble and is played by 20,000 to 25,000 users locally. That in itself is an honour.”


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