Community supported funding comes to the Middle East as Aflamnah, the “first crowdfunding initiative dedicated to the Arab world”, embraces the arts.

Aflamnah, reportedly the Middle East’s first crowdfunding website, launched in Dubai on 1 July 2012. The organisation seeks to match creative projects “beginning or ending in the Arab world” with involved supporters to provide the financial push they require to begin, continue or finish their endeavour through social networking.

Screen capture, Aflamnah website. Image by Art Radar.

Screen capture, Aflamnah website. Image by Art Radar.

The excitement around the website surged with over 10,000 page views in the first week and has led to endorsements by both the Dubai International Film Festival and Gulf Film Festival. To date, more than fifty donors from around the world have sponsored projects. Currently, a handful of independent films have been highlighted on the site, as well as one lifestyle publication.

In a method similar to that used by Kickstarter in the United States, one of the first and today most-widely recognised crowdfunding platforms, vetted Aflamnah projects provide a short video of their idea and appeal to sponsors with one-of-a-kind rewards, such as work experience on a film set or a Skype session with the director. Pledges currently range from USD10 to USD10,000 and are only allocated in US dollars through PayPal.

The website does have some subtle differences from Kickstarter. Aflamnah provides an option for each donor to remain anonymous, projects are rewarded the money regardless of whether the target amount has been reached at the end of the campaign and each campaign costs USD100. Initially, the campaigns beginning during the soft-launch lasted 28 days but have since expanded to 30-, 60- or 90-day-long periods that can be repeated to reach a target goal.

Screen capture, Aflamnah website. Image by Art Radar.

Screen capture, Aflamnah website. Image by Art Radar.

As co-founder Vida Rizq tells the blog Seeqnce,

The inspiration behind Aflamnah came from knowing how many ideas out there just cannot happen – not because they are not great ideas, but because they just cannot find the funding. Crowdfunding is an incredible phenomenon when you look at how it has spread about the world, with over 450 crowdfunding sites globally and some phenomenal success stories.

Rizq continues, “We’re starting with our personal area of strength, which is film and television, but we’re extremely keen on ensuring that we attract all kinds of creative ideas.”

Have you used Aflamnah or sponsored any of the listed projects? What types of projects would you like to see or support on the website?


Related Topics: art and the Internet, art funding, art in the Middle East

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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