Yahoo enters Arab market with Maktoob acquisition

Internet giant unveils plans to buy largest Arabic Web portal, Maktoob.com, as part of company's bid to expand into lucrative Middle Eastern market.
Written by Joel D. Pinaroc, Contributor

Yahoo disclosed plans to buy Maktoob.com, the largest Arabic Web portal, as part of the Internet company's plans to expand into the potentially lucrative Middle Eastern market.

In a report by UAE paper Gulf News Tuesday, Yahoo added that it will soon offer an Arabic version of its search services, but did not disclose financial details of the acquisition.

Keith Nilsson, Yahoo's senior vice president for emerging markets, was quoted to say the company sees "tremendous growth and potential in emerging markets" and will be "fully operational in this region", once the acquisition is completed.

The merger is expected to be finalized within the fourth quarter of this year, Nilsson said, adding that translation to Arabic will commence in the same period, with Yahoo's mail and messenger service to be targeted first. He added that new services will be "co-branded" as Yahoo Maktoob.

The Gulf News report stated that Maktoob.com, which also has a research arm, currently serves some 20 million users in the Arab region. Yahoo is reportedly looking at a potential market size of about 320 million Arab-speaking users, and the merger is targeted to provide online advertising as a primary revenue source, the report added.

Yahoo last month inked a 10-year search pact with Microsoft that will see the Internet company become the exclusive global salesforce for both partners' premium advertisers, while Microsoft will power Yahoo search.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a Filipino freelance IT writer currently based in Saudi Arabia.

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