Traffic up at regional web sites

The Iraq conflict has led to a noticeable jump in traffic on regional web sites that carry news and current affairs content.

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By  David Ingham Published  April 21, 2003

Web sites with a large slice of news and current affairs content saw noteable increases in traffic in March.

Al Bawaba Network was first out of the blocks, reporting traffic surges of around 400% per day in the first few days of the Iraq conflict.

The company, which operates albawaba.com and menareport.com, saw an approximate doubling in page views and visitor numbers over the whole of March compared to February. In total, the two sites registered 19,330,539 page views and 1,680,821 visits in March. That compared with 9,712,134 page views and 862,865 visits in the month of February.

Almost all of that extra traffic was seen after the beginning of the conflict on March 19, according to Hani Jabsheh, CEO of the Al Bawaba Network. “Arabs trust the internet for news because it is so timely and they like being able to choose exactly what they want to read,” says Jabsheh. “The increase in traffic that we’ve seen in recent weeks again reinforces the need for advertisers to take the internet seriously.”

Ajeeb also a sizeable jump in traffic between February and March. Its total visitor number leapt from 5,596,015 in February to 9,449,436 in March and its number of page views rose from 54,390,787 in February to 69,179,849 in March.

A closer look at Ajeeb’s figures reveals a concentration in activity around Tarjim, its machine translation engine. Whereas Tarjim received 3,552,418 visitors in February, in March it received 6,992,593, more than two thirds of the entire site’s visitor number.

Yahoo, a leading international portal, also reported record traffic from the UAE in March. It claimed that 100 million pages of Yahoo! were viewed by over 580,000 unique visitors from the UAE. That’s a particularly stunning figure, given that the number of internet accounts in the UAE is 250,000 and the total number of active users is 900,000, according to Paul Budde Communications.

Yahoo claims that it receives 5 million unique users from the entire Middle East every month. Over 80 regional companies advertised on Yahoo in 2002, the company says.

The full extent of regional dot-coms' new found popularity will become clearer when the Arabian Business Web Index is published towards the end of this month.

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