The newspapers on WhatsApp — WhatsNews (in English) and WhatsOulom (in Arabic) — launched by Oman's leading English and Arabic newspapers, Times of Oman and Al Shabiba, have received a positive reaction from the organisations and the public.
Oman's leading telecommunications company and primary provider of internet services in the country, Omantel became the first organisation to come on board to support the initiative.
Dignitaries, readers and the general public were also appreciative of the new service launched.
Commending the initiative, Hamouda Al Harsosi, head, committee on culture and information, Majlis Al Shura said, "I applaud the concept behind WhatsNews and WhatsOulum. Launching of this free service would do great service to the society as it would help putting rumours that can be damaging to rest."
Jane Jaffer, author and head of Dar Al Atta'a's Let's Read Campaign, said, "This is a great new initiative by Times of Oman and Al Shabiba. In our rapidly changing world, we need to be constantly updated. Social media can sometimes get things wrong, so WhatsNews and WhatsOulom will be able to give us the correct information on a daily basis," said.
The pioneering concept of newspapers on WhatsApp - WhatsNews and WhatsOulom — having three editions per day (12 noon, 5pm and 10pm) — was launched yesterday. The newspapers on WhatsApp initiative aim to stop rumour mongering. The news are published only after confirmation from official sources. The purpose of the newspapers on WhatsApp is to stop unconfirmed stories from spreading since these have a negative effect on the general public.
"We believe that authentic and verified news shared online will contribute positively to the society," said an official of the publication.
Stating that the project is futuristic in thought, Bridget Era Ganguly, director of administration, Al Amana Centre, said, "What a great way to start the year. We are certainly moving with the Times. Well done and way to go."
Congratulating the publications, Megan Porter from the American embassy, said, "The US Embassy looks forward to using the new WhatsNews service. We are pleased to see the Times of Oman and Al Shabiba leading the way for innovative and interactive media distribution."
Ali Al Bahri, instructor, at a private college said, "WhatsNews and WhatsOulom are path breaking initiatives from the group, which has really innovated with technology to cater to the requirements of its readers and residents. Considering so much of gossip and hearsay floats around on the social media and other channels, WhatsNews updates will bring about the much needed change to quell the rumours and offer a trusted news source."
Welcoming the move, Haroon Rasheed, marketing executive, Reema Building Materials, suggested, "As a consumer of news around the world from digital sources, I would prefer the WhatsNews service to focus on local news in Oman only. I have downloaded today's updates and shared them with my friends, and they loved the concept. My best wishes to the Times of Oman management." Shimon Mohandas, Drives & Accessories Co., said, "As online consumers continue to demand a unique and custom-made experience across multiple channels, this enterprising project will be welcomed by all tech savvy users and news consumers."
Lauding the groups' efforts, Rejmin Abdulkader, Al Jassar Group, said, "It is great that the Times of Oman and Al Shabiba are constantly introducing new digital offerings that enable readers to engage with the products."
He also added, "The concept empowers its users and serves them better, considering people like to be updated with the latest happenings."