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You are here: HomeJoomla 4Customer SpotlightSamer Hamouda & his journey with Middle East Network

This post was provided by Samer Hamouda, founder at, as part of our Customer Spotlight series where SmartAddons users share their projects as well as valuable website development experiences and insights. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don't miss future posts.


My name is Samer Hamouda. I'm 42 year olds and live in Lebanon. Today I'd like to share with you my personal story about Joomla and RTL Joomla Templates. So hope that you can be inspired a bit and have a good time reading this.

Samer Hamouda & his journey with Middle East Network

What Brought Me to Web Development and Joomla

As working in the computer field, I found out that not many people have a good knowledge about the Internet, specially Website and Web Hosting. I started to read about those topics more and more and I found myself going deeper and deeper. Although not many people did like this, but I decided to give it a shoot, so I started in 2009 to work in Web Hosting and a reseller, then I got my own VPS and keep working on it till now. After that I found by search the what we all know as Joomla. The way that Joomla was built attracted me because it will make it so easy for people who don't know coding (like me). I started to read more and more and about Joomla, and the more I read, the more I was sure that Joomla is what I need to build my own website.

The Story Behind Middle East Network (Middnet)

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Visit Middle East Network site

At the beginning, I started building Middnet as a news site about politics on my own. I was looking for some Joomla Templates which support RTL (In my country, most people read Arabic, English and French),  but there no much site support RTL.

After a long search, I found some good companies who work in this field and SMARTADDONS is one of them. With SMARTADDONS what did attract me in the first place is the ability to build Multilanguage website. For English and French, that will not be a problem because they all start from Left to Right (LTR). The main problem was the Right to Left (RTL) which is easy to deal with in SMARTADDONS'S templates.

I came across SJ News - a free Joomla Template and really liked it after exploring its demo because it's just what I need for my news site. Then I purchased the Copyright Removal for it. I stayed with this design till Joomla 2.5 gone, it was so easy to use.

I always talked with my friends about my site. We all agreed that politics weren't interesting to people, and I found that Technology is more interesting for me and for many other people around the world, so I changed it to a technology news site which talks about the last news of mobiles PC and laptops electronics.

Build Middle East Network from Scratch

When I started to think about the new site about technology, I went to SMARTADDONS as usual to see which design will be good for my site. At that time, SJ Lifemag was very new there. When I saw it, I said this is what I want. I let my friend check it before I take my decision and this was how I reached the SJ Life Mag.

SJ LifeMag - Responsive Magazine Joomla Template

SJ LifeMag - Exquisite Joomla template for news/magazine website

I used the Quickstart package and extensions that come with the template. So all was set-up there, I only changed some little things and changed the categories and articles. Even it took a little bit more time, but that kept everything together. I saw that best practice is to use the Quickstart with the extension installed with it, even it may take more time to figure out, but it helps to run the site more stable with less problem. As it is a new site with new content, but the quick start help as I can choose where to put my content which one is top which one in the middle etc. Since it's launched, it did not face any problem.

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Home page of Middle East Network

The old site was all about politics in first place while this one is about technology, but it's making progress: the amount of viewers is increasing, especially new visitors and also from the click on the articles inside Joomla. They started increasing to be above 100 clicks per day. As a site just started in one month, I found this good as the beginning.

Difficulties I Had to Face to & Some Valuable Lessons Learned

For me the most difficulties I faced was 3 things:

1- Joomla Updates: Of course, Joomla's team has made a great work, especially I know Joomla from 1.5 until 3.4, but the main problem of Joomla is that it's built as standard. It is the good thing and a bad thing at the same time because building it as standard makes available to everyone, but when change happens due to updates (which is really important in case of security reasons), you may find your Joomla went down as it will come somehow incompatible with your template, extensions, or maybe your server configuration. When this happens to me, I always go back to Joomla forum and check the topic and most of time (if I did not say always), I find the solution there. Once more is the changing of Joomla version and then end of life support. I find myself that I have to build my Joomla from the scratch again when I decided to go to Joomla 3.x because migration is not always successful and it may cause baggier problems as you will need to recode extension and templates again.

2- RTL Language: Not many people work with RTL language, and who built a template to help RTL language don't have all what does this language need (I'm here talking about the Arabic language in specific). What I mean about my words here that the templates always come with standard designs and layout for all. So for example, if I want to increase the font size for an article, menu, etc. I find myself stuck there because too many things are affected. In my view, there should speared folders for CSS sheet which contain different language that will make it easier for developers to change what only need to be changed (of course it is more work on the person who made the template or extensions, but he has the right to ask for more money in this case).

3- Last and important one: What is your website for? What are your viewers, clients, etc.? What are your viewers looking for in your site? I faced a big problem for what my website should be for and I made some bad mistakes for that. Why I said mistakes because I found myself made a wrong website and then had to change it again and again, which mean loss of money time and viewers. Now my website is related to technology news and I find myself there. This is my story, which begin in 2009 until now and hope you will find it useful to all of you.

Thanks for spending your time reading my story!

Samer Hamouda.

Enjoy Samer's story? Please share your thoughts with us on the comment section below! If you have an interesting story and would like to share your experience with SmartAddons friends on our blog, feel free to submit HERE and we'll come back to you shortly for more discussion :)


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