ElWafeyat: Online Obituaries

Digital Content

ElWafeyat is a new online service that aims to help you during the most difficult times in life. Dealing with the passing of a loved one is never easy, and it is made more difficult by all the arrangements that need to be made immediately thereafter. Having to contact everyone who is affected by the loss can be very time consuming and emotionally draining. That is where ElWafeyat comes in. Once you compose the message you wish to send out, ElWafeyat take over, posting it to social networks, messaging your contact list and even creating a memorial page for the deceased, where friends and family can virtually gather to remember and honour their loved one and offer condolences. The brainchild of one of Egypt's first online pioneers, Cornelius O’Donnell and his partner Ashraf Maklad, the service caught our attention, especially in a time where social media can distort reality and spread rumours. We talk to O'Donnell about how it works, where the idea came from and how it can make the whole process a little easier...

How does it work?

For the family, it is easy to compose an announcement and publish it on ElWafeyat's website and app, and ElWafeyat also sends it out to the family’s contacts and network via SMS and email. For friends, colleagues and acquaintances, it is very simple to send condolences, telegrams, and to create memorial pages.

What has the feedback been like so far?

Feedback on the idea and the initial design has been amazing. Big corporations are asking us to create a corporate service for them, and people from outside of Egypt are already asking for the ability to send telegrams. So it looks like we’re on the right track.

Have there been any problems bringing obituary into the digital age?

We’ll have to see. Early feedback has been very promising. Digital gives so much more in terms of possibilities. You can follow particular families that are close to you, or a particular geographic location. You can get reminders for the arba3een (the 40-day anniverary of a death) or the sanawaya (the one year anniversary).

How will ElWafeyat grow in the future?

There’s a few things we would like to achieve. The whole region (other than Saudi Arabia) has very similar traditions, so we’d like to take it to other countries in the region. Globally, there is no entity that does this. It’s very fragmented. There’s another road we’d like to take, that has to do with mapping out the social graph – but it’s early for that.

When can we expect the website to launch?

20th of September 2013.