An online startup is here to fulfill the desire for delicious food! Shahiya refers to appetite in Arabic, and is meant for all those who have an immense appetite for cooking, eating, and socializing online. Shahiya.com is a food portal that provides an Arabic and English platform for those food lovers who have an unusual interest in the Arab food world. It offers a range of exclusive recipes from different cuisines, ranging from American, Chinese, Egyptian, French, Gulf, Indian, Irani, Iraqi, Italian, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, and Syrian. Besides been a food portal, Shahiya.com allows one to share the different interests of food with family and friends, add signature recipes, review various other recipes and restaurants, and make use of the forum to exchange ideas around food. Tfour.me spoke to Shahiya’s Content Manager, Carla Haibi in further details:
1- When did Shahiya initially start its online platform? What inspired you to start a website with a range of different cuisines and taste?
Shahiya.com is the first point of call for good, reliable recipes in Arabic on the net. It has been online for 2.5 years now and has become the biggest food website in the MENA region with more than 1 million unique visitors per month.
It features more than 6,500 recipes that were shared by a vibrant community of 60,000 members.
All recipes on Shahiya are user-generated. They are added by home cooks from all over the Arab world, and they were tested and cooked many times – hence offering reliable, feasible and authentic recipes.
The idea behind Shahiya came years ago when the founders, back then three good friends, left Lebanon to do their grad studies abroad. They found it hard to come across good, reliable recipes online in Arabic, which was surprising given that food is so central to Lebanese culture. This inspired us to start Shahiya in the first place.
Back in Lebanon, with the rise of online social platforms, we believed it was time to make a difference in the online culinary scene, and the website was born.
2- How are people responding on the website (those who review recipes and also those who post their own recipes online?
Whereas a lot of visitors browse on Shahiya without being registered, just to pick up recipes and tips, by design Shahiya encourages a more interactive experience, available to registered members.
Signing up is free, and it enables members to create their personal page, add their own recipes, review others’ recipes, add photos of their meals or discuss their favorite subjects.
When we asked our members why they post recipes on Shahiya, the most common answer was that they trust the site and experience quality interaction with other members whose opinions they can rely on.
To date, Shahiya has 60, 000 registered members; this very active community of home cooks has added more than 6,500 recipes, 15,000 reviews, and 3,000 pictures.
We have a basis of very loyal members who interact on Shahiya as they would on any social media. Some members have added over 200 recipes.
In addition to the massive activity on the site, we have a large fan base on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest) who continue this conversation about food on those platforms.
3- How are you making money from this website?
We mainly rely on advertising revenues. This year we hosted campaigns for brands such as Puck cream cheese, Activia yogurt, Galaxy chocolate, Dream Whip and Cheddar cheese from Kraft, and many other international food and home appliances brands.
4- Do you have any competitors, or are you one of the kind?
We are in a fast-growing market so naturally, we have many competitors. However the market is big enough to have us all, and Shahiya is by far the market leader. Shahiya’s edge is first owed to an active and loyal community but also to many unique features of the site. For example, it is the only Arabic website to provide full nutritional information for every recipe, in addition to diet recipes exclusively prepared by professional US registered dietitian Carole Makhoul Hani. One other great offering is the dietary tools that calculate your BMI and daily nutrition requirements for free.
5- Do you have any further website expansion plans?
We will be adding new features to our site to encourage and allow users to share more content. Shahiya is also on mobile, with many mobile apps in our portfolio, both on iOS and Android, and will be soon expanding into the tablet market.