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Shamim Kassibawi, Founder of the Play:Date app

Mobile applications are increasingly playing a vital role in everyday life as more and more consumers continue to rely on their features and functions that include, but are not limited to, providing general information, prices, booking forms, search engines, etc., as well as connecting people all over the world through messenger, news feeds, and much more. This has directly led to the rise in app entrepreneurs or aptly titled ‘appreneurs’, who look for ways to turn mundane into easy and convenient.


Vital to the significantly large expat community in the region, the instant availability of newsfeeds, free instant messaging and photo-sharing features help expatriates recently moved to the UAE to cope with change and keep homesickness at bay.


Keeping in mind expat mothers who are new to the region, Shamim Kassibawi created Play:Date – an interactive app that helps to build a child’s social circle through similar interests and likes. Parents can swipe on profiles that match their little ones’, swap tips and tricks, and can schedule playdates with other parents through the app.


“The aim of the app is to promote friendship and relationship-building, something that is necessary during the early stages of a child’s life,” says Kassibawi, who was driven to co-create the app upon realizing the drawbacks her sister faced being an expat mom to a 1-year old. “My sister struggled to find opportunities for my nephew to participate in healthy, fun-filled, quality playtime with children of his age. Given the cultural Arab background we come from, playdates are a foreign concept. I wanted to offer a new opportunity to Arab and Western expats in the region and initiate a conversation on the importance of children socializing in the Arab community.”


However, it is not all easy, breezy, in the world of app development. Many factors need to be considered prior to developing an app. Kassibawi shares her top three tips for new appreneurs venturing into the digital world.

Do your research
Developing an idea is easy and quick, but researching the idea to see whether it is feasible and to avoid problems such as plagiarism, research is vital. Security in all aspects must be researched well too. “We needed to ensure the safety of the app as it encourages parents to upload profile images of their children as part of the user-experience,” says Kassibawi

Understand your audience
It is important to identify and understand the user-audience of the app. With parents overlooking their children’s profiles, Kassibawi and her team had to understand what expat parents were looking for. “We spoke to a number of mothers and fathers before we launched. We wanted to know the pros and cons of having an app like this out in the market,” says Kassibawi. Knowing parents’ lives can get busy, her aim was to ensure user-friendliness and simplicity when it came to using the app. “We wanted to keep it ABC.”

Patience is a virtue
Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, apps follow the same rule. “Creating an app takes time, dedication, understanding, and most importantly, patience. We went through several stages of trial and error before we decided to go live. Technical issues must be anticipated and appreneurs mustn’t be discouraged if they face failures in the development stages of the app,” assures Kassibawi. “All of these factors contributed towards creating an app that my team and I were happy to launch and are now proud to see growing with new members every day.”

Sudanese-Kiwi Shamim Kassibawi is a PR queen, creative instigator and gives the Energizer Bunny a run for his money.