Football just got a whole lot more fun—if that’s even possible. Malaeb does all of the organizing for you, so all you have to do is show up and play…and their social features are about to revolutionize the way people interact around the sport.
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers, and tell them what you do?
Ahmed: I’m a 21-year-old tech and startup enthusiast. At the age of 19, I started my first small startup: Selfie Station, a modern version of an event photo booth. I recently sold out of it. I’m currently in the full-time process of co-founding Malaeb.
Yasser: I’m a 24-year-old football enthusiast. After graduating from university with an accounting and finance degree, I immediately got a corporate job at Unilever, and stayed there for over two years. I recently quit my job to co-found Malaeb.
What is Malaeb, and how did it come to be?
Yasser: Malaeb is a community app for football lovers that enables users to book football pitches online. As someone who plays several times a week, I knew finding a pitch to play on could be an annoying and time-consuming task. I started thinking about a solution, and discussed the idea with a couple of friends. Then I met Ahmed through my brother. He actually had the same idea, and had worked on it briefly.
What kinds of challenges did you face, developing an app like this?
Ahmed: Development talent in Bahrain is quite limited. We had difficulty finding local talent to join our team in order to build the app. I have the technical background to build a prototype myself, but I’m a horrible developer. Building an app requires experienced engineers who are passionate about what they do. There are great developers here, but too few.
WE DO HAVE GREAT MINDS HERE IN THE KINGDOM, AND THE TALENT TO ACHIEVE REGIONAL SUCCESS.
Which football fields do you currently have on board, and are you planning to introduce more?
Yasser: We currently have more than 30 fields in seven areas in Bahrain. These include Winners, TFA, Soccer City, and Soccer Stars, among others. We are, of course, introducing more pitches, and will keep doing so. We aim to include all rentable pitches in Bahrain, eventually. We’re also looking to expand to surrounding GCC countries soon.
Are there any additional services on the app you’re planning to add?
Yasser: We aim to introduce a number of social features for our users. We don’t want to spoil it, but we have really exciting plans and we have already started working to implement them. One thing we can share with you is the Teams feature. This will allow players to create a team and invite their friends to join it, then challenge other teams who are listed on the application. They can then find a suitable pitch and a time to book it for their challenge match.
Is the app only available on iOS, or is it on Android, as well?
Ahmed: Malaeb has been available since day one on both the iOS App Store and Android’s Play Store.
Do you believe Bahrainis are more hesitant when it comes to app creation? If so, why?
Ahmed: I believe Bahrainis might have been hesitant a few years ago, but right now there’s certainly a strong movement going on. There are some challenges in seeking funding as well as development talent. However Talabat’s success story has motivated and pushed a lot of young startups in the region to think about apps and tech startups.
We do have great minds here in the Kingdom, and the talent to achieve regional success. Several Bahraini tech startups like Eat have already achieved great progress and we have to catch up.