By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent
For most Muslim pre-teen and teenage girls, surfing the Internet to find halal activities or games is kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack. Seizing upon the lack of online gaming venues for Muslim girls, American-born Saudi Arabian based businesswoman April Tosch has founded Jasmine Club (www.Jasmine-Club.com), which is an innovative gaming site for both Muslim and non-Muslim girls.
The primary feature of the website is a dress-up game that allows girls to dress their very own doll in a variety of Middle Eastern and Islamic-inspired clothing as well as western fashions. The site can be viewed in either English or Arabic which allows Muslim girls from all over the world to participate.
Becoming a member of Jasmine Club is free, however access to the VIP section requires a paid subscription. Once a user registers an account, she will have her very own page complete with her own avatar to dress and a dressing room. Everything from clothes to jewelry to make-up can be accessed from a fully customizable dressing room to modify the avatar to each userâ€™s specifications.
Social networking is also a vital part of Jasmine Club. Each user has her own â€˜wallâ€™ that visitors can leave messages on. There is also an email inbox for sending and receiving messages from other members. No other website on the Internet today so effectively bridges the gaps between East and West as Jasmine Girl does.
The website also allows users to earn Jasmine Dinars, by playing the games, which can be used to purchase virtual items like backgrounds, jewelry and cyber furniture that users can acquire to decorate their avatars and page. Purchasing a new avatar costs 50 Jasmine Dinars while a new necklace might set a user back 75 Jasmine Dinars.
For Tosch, giving her site visitors a positive message in the midst of the gaming experience is of utmost importance. Her website features a â€˜well-being; section where visitors can watch inspiring videos. Currently, she is developing a storyline that revolves around five girls from five different ethnicities. Tosch has enlisted the help of author Carolyn Handler Miller who has specialized experience working with Disney and Pixar. The purpose of the storyline is to show that it is possible to bridge both cultural and religious gaps with understanding.
The future for Jasmine Club looks very bright as it is already getting thousands of hits and developing its very own fan base. Tosch hopes to create partnerships with other Middle Eastern media companies to further develop the tween and teen market in the Gulf region.