I recall using Zawya.com a lot when I was a law firm librarian, in the days before it was owned by publishing conglomerate Thomson Reuters. (Which, as I just learned, is apparently now Refinitiv?) I used the site to keep track of business and financial news for the firm’s Oman office. As an OSINT resource, this is a good one to know for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.
For starters, let me be clear that this site is ultimately a subscription service. However, there is A LOT of good information available on this site for free. I haven’t seen the subscription side of Zawya for a few years now, so I can’t really remember enough to comment on any of those features. I will just outline the free content in this blog post. If you are interested in a subscription to Zawya, there are plenty of sales links like this one that can get you in touch with the right people.
You have the option to read the Zawya site in English or Arabic, and also specific to your region.
In the above photo, you can first choose to read the MENA version in English, the United Arab Emirates version in English, or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia version in English. Unfortunately, I don’t read Arabic. But, I am able to tell from their respective URLs that the first one is MENA in Arabic, the next one is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Arabic, and last is the United Arab Emirates in Arabic. For this review, I’m going to stick with the MENA-English version of the site.
The Zawya site is very busy. It has a lot of content and some of it will lead you down a rabbit hole of tangents to other Thomson Reuters sites. Below is a basic road map of the site, to give you an idea of what it offers.
(1) Most Read — like the name states, the “most read” section gives you the top five most read articles on the site. This is a quick and easy way to see what the big news is in the region.
(2) Top News — This predominant center section has photos of their stories and contains, again as it is labeled, the top news stories of the region at the time you click onto the site. Once you click into “Top News,” you can filter by country, pillar (aka subject area), provider (aka news source), and date.
(3) Pick of the Day — It’s pretty self-explanatory that this is the story that the Zawya editors want to feature. Once you click into the “Pick of the Day” story, there will be “Related” and “Read Next” suggestions to keep you going.
(4) Zawya Coverage / Reuters Coverage — This section is just a list of more regional news. Although they are listed as two different columns, I couldn’t tell a difference visually of what makes something a Zawya story versus a Reuters story. Just like in the “Pick of the Day,” there will be other recommendations once you click onto that part of the site.
(5) Morning Briefing — This will be the big news of the day, along with lots of stock and other financial news, with the option to subscribe for a daily newsletter. It appears to be free, as I was not advised of any subscription costs when I simply entered an email address to receive it.
(6) Insights — These are the longer, more insightful and in-depth articles that go beyond just news.
(7) MENA Companies — Perhaps the best feature on the Zawya site is the companies listing page. It can be difficult to get information about MENA companies online, especially through free resources. You can select from the most viewed companies, or do a search on your own.
So, if I wanted to find all the privately-owned Jordanian construction companies, I can select those items from the drop-down menu.
I would get a list of results. I selected the result of the Alarabia Company for Technical Engineering and Contracts.
It’s very basic information, but it might be all you need if looking just for contact information. Zawya does have links to then subscribe to their services to receive a more robust report about the companies in their search results.
(8) Miscellaneous — There is a lot a stuff on this site. I told you it was busy. In the interest of time, I will lump a lot of these together and you can see for yourself on the site. There are sections for:
- Stock Market Data
- Currencies & Commodities
- The “Expat Focus” section
- Special Coverage
- Opinion / Editorials
- Press Releases
- and more!
In summary, Zawya.com is an extremely useful site for business and finance information in the Middle East and North Africa region. They offer a lot of news and company information at no cost. Their metadata relies heavily on hashtags, so knowing which search terms you are looking for is helpful on this site. The Zawya site offers so many layers of information that it’s easy to get sucked it — I mean that as a compliment! There are other areas of the Thomson Reuters / Refinitiv universe linked to the site which can also give you great information about topics like Islamic Finance.
I don’t know this region well enough to know if the articles have any particular slant to them. I’m just taking it at face value that a reputable organization like Thomson Reuters is just reporting the news as they see it. Like any news in English from a non-English speaking nation, it’s always a good idea to seek out more local news sources for different points of view and perspectives.
For the non-Arabic speaking researcher, Zawya.com provides solid content and a wealth of useful information.