Palestine’s Tawazon brings mindfulness to the Arabic-language market
CAIRO | May El Habachi
Suna Zoabi-Othman is on a mission to spread the practice of meditation in the Middle East through a mobile app. Launched in October 2019, Tawazon – or “balance” in Arabic – quickly drew a following, reaching 5,000 downloads in its first month.
“’Tawazon’ is the base of life and we all need balance in our lives,” says Othman. “After benefiting from meditation personally, I wanted to create an irresistible product that is not only user friendly, but one that helps Arabs achieve overall wellness in their lives.”
TAPPING INTO A FAST GROWTH BUSINESS
The meditation market is worth over $1 billion in the United States, its largest market, and is predicted to grow to over $2 billion by 2022, according to a recent report by Statista.
Naturally, it is not only Americans who are drawn to meditation. People from across the world are looking to find moments of peace, relaxation and overall wellness during their often busy and stressful lives, especially during today’s challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is now easy for people to connect with themselves and practice mindfulness with the help of technology,” explains Othman. “Through technology, we can also teach meditation to the new and younger generation, something which took us years to learn.”
Recognising Tawazon’s potential for growth – today, the app averages approximately 18,500 active users – Ibtikar Fund, a fund that invests in innovative Palestinian startups, invested in Tawazon in April this year.
With the funding, Tawazon is working on increasing its reach across the Middle East, particularly the GCC, and plans to include more Arabic-language meditations and introduce new products for users.
BACKING MEDITATION WITH SCIENCE
When Othman first heard about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, she was intrigued to learn more.
“Coming from a chemical engineering background, I felt that it was too spiritual for me,” she says. “I then began searching for scientific information and articles about mindfulness and meditation and I fell in love with it.”
Research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and sometimes even insomnia. Meanwhile, Tawazon itself cites a study that found people who practiced mindfulness daily for eight weeks had some changes in the brain associated with memory, self-awareness, empathy and stress.
“After learning about the connection between the mind and body, I wanted to discover it more and bring it to the Middle East,” says Othman. “There are about 1,000 meditation apps worldwide and none are in Arabic. Listening to meditation in our mother tongue affects us very much, even if we are fluent in another language. It leads to better results.”
And it’s not only the users and the Ibtikar Fund that are believing in Tawazon; the Ramallah-based startup recently opened an office in Abu Dhabi after winning Hub 71 MENA Growth Competition and MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition in April and June respectively this year.
Needless to say, the future features more mindfulness.
“At Tawazon, we believe in the beautiful Arabic mind. We believe in the capability of the Arabic mind to grow and develop, especially through the means of mindfulness and meditation,” concludes Othman.