Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Arabic portal Maktoob acquired by Yahoo!

Internet major Yahoo! Inc. today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire, an online community in the Arab world, with more than 16.5 million users. Though the transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2009, the financial details of the deal is not yet known.

"This acquisition will accelerate Yahoo!'s strategy of expanding in high-growth in emerging markets where we believe Yahoo! has unparalleled opportunity to become the destination of choice for consumers," said Yahoo! chief executive officer Carol Bartz in a statement.

According to Yahoo!, this acquisition will extend its current offerings by adding capabilities to deliver relevant Arabic-language content and services, as well as Arabic versions of Yahoo!'s popular Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Mail services.

"Yahoo! and Maktoob are natural partners and this combination should help energize the Internet market in the region as a whole. We are excited about Yahoo! building a stronger presence in the Middle East and bringing its compelling suite of services to Arab users in Arabic," said Samih Toukan, founder of Maktoob.

While Internet usage in the Middle East has grown more than tenfold since 2000, most markets are still in the early stages of adoption. According to the World Bank, there are more than 320 million Arabic speakers worldwide, while less than one per cent of all online content is in Arabic, said the Yahoo press release. was founded in 2000 by Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury as the world's first free Arabic/English Web-based email service, and since then has grown to be the leading Arab online community in the region.

Keith Nilsson, senior vice president, Emerging Markets, Yahoo!, said, "We see great growth potential in both audience and advertising in the Arab world and combining with will allow us to quickly build our presence there with high quality products. This is a big win for publishers, advertisers, and consumers in the region."

Yahoo said this acquisition is part of its larger strategy to grow its business throughout the world's emerging markets by connecting consumers with the content and services that matter most to them in their local language.

Following the acquisition, will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yahoo!. Ahmed Nassef, the current general manager of, will continue to lead the teams and will report to Keith Nilsson, said the release.


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