Arabic online portal for women spotlights breast cancer

Founded in 2013, Donya Imraa (Women’s Universe) is open to all Arabic-speaking women

Saffiya Ansari
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As breast cancer awareness month wraps up, the founder of an Arabic-language online community reflects on the power of women to make a change, even if they act via the Internet.

Founded in 2013, Donya Imraa (Women’s Universe) is open to all Arabic-speaking women and pushes members to discuss hot topics, this month hosted specialized discussions on breast cancer, including survivors sharing their stories and offering advice on how to deal with the fallout and also hosted doctors sharing information via the portal.


“Women shared their insight on all the phases of having breast cancer, from denial to acceptance, and how to deal with their families,” said founder Lina Habib to Al Arabiya News.


“Women even started giving each other advice about early detection,” key to preventing fatalities.

“Arab women want to help each other, and this platform allows them to do so,” Habib said, recounting the story of “Amal,” a breast cancer survivor who shared her story and was flooded with support.

The website is open to all Arabic-speaking women seeking advice, sharing information and relating personal experiences in an online portal.


“I’ve always dreamt about launching something where the Arab woman can be the hero of her own story,” said Habib.

“Our site is a window to the outside world. It not only empowers Arab women, but also helps them communicate and allows them to have their voice heard.

“When these women connect with each other online, the organic link is already in place because of their common culture and traditions, even when it comes to the simplest things in life like food, and also more complex things like relationships and raising your kids.”


The tagline of the website – “The story of every Arab woman, by and for every Arab woman” – is telling. Donya Imraa seeks to give its members the confidence to share their thoughts and opinions, which is why the Arabic-language element is crucial, Habib says.

“Arabic content on the internet is still relatively limited vis-a-vis other languages. This is one of the concerns that we had, and it incentivized us toward creating an online experience that was in Arabic, for Arab women, so that they feel comfortable communicating and sharing their ideas.”

One of Donya Imraa’s distinctive features is a reward-based program whereby contributors amass points for the number and quality of their content contributions, with tiers from bronze to gold.


Users also score points for referring the website to other women, with points translating into rewards that can be redeemed in an upcoming bid for prizes.

“The bid is going to be like eBay but without the money, just using the points,” Habib said.

“Many of these women don’t know their own value, so when they contribute content and get points, it empowers them and allows them to impact someone else’s life.”

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