Arabic dotcom in profit

The success of its Arabic-language e-mail service and online shopping card have been cited as reasons that Middle East e-business Maktoob.com has reached profitability.

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By  Patrick Phelvin Published  January 28, 2004

The success of its Arabic-language e-mail service and online shopping card have been cited as reasons that Middle East e-business Maktoob.com has reached profitability. Samih Toukan, Maktoob.com’s CEO, announced that the company was in profit for 2003. Toukan says Maktoob.com’s performance was a victory for the internet community in the Arab world and he hoped that it would bolster the efforts of the region's internet players. “While the economy was certainly sluggish worldwide last year, three major factors contributed to helping us reach our goal of achieving profitability by the end of 2003,” explained Toukan. “Firstly, we have a proven business model that creates substantial value for our clients. Secondly, despite the economic downturn, we were able to retain key clients and add new ones such as Nokia, Pepsi, Twix and American Express among many others. Finally, we have always remained committed to ensuring that our spending remains in line with our growth forecast,” he adds. Beginning with offering web-based bilingual e-mail, the company has diversified towards offering new solutions in the community and e-commerce areas. These include mobile services, e-mail, chat, auction and the the CashU card, a prepaid card for secure online shopping. "Pursuing its strategic objectives, Maktoob.com has put increasing emphasis on services where added value is created from competence and human resources in the first place," Toukan added. “One of the key factors for our success is that we have always introduced services in a phased manner. These services were launched after a careful and focused scrutiny of international market trends as well as understanding the demands of our users and clients,” he says Speaking about Maktoob.com’s performance in the past year, Toukan said that while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf traditionally remained its biggest markets, Maktoob.com was rapidly gaining firm ground in Morocco, Algeria and North Africa. Toukan also voiced his optimism over being able to play a large role in Iraq as the country returns to normalcy. Maktoob.com recently launched the biggest internet cafe in Iraq, in the Al Mansoor locality of Baghdad. “Maktoob.com remains steadfast in its commitment to spread Internet culture throughout the Middle East and encourage Arabs to explore the potential of this medium,” Toukan says. “Iraq is one such challenge and we are confident that its residents can experience the full potential of the internet and interact with their counterparts in the rest of the world,” he adds.

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