Arabian Business Web Index - March 2003 Report

Traffic rose on regional web sites as the Iraq conflict unfolded, but will the new found popularity of dot-coms translate into revenue?

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By  David Ingham Published  May 7, 2003

Comings and goings in the Web Index |~||~||~|Click here to view the Arabian Business Web Index for March 2003"

Web sites with a large slice of news and current affairs content saw noteable increases in traffic in March. The Al Bawaba Network was the first out of the blocks with an announcement, 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 20, 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.

It was a similar story at Lebanese news and current affairs portal, Naharnet. Its number of visitors rose from 710,713 in February to 1,462,234 in March; unique visitors rose from 304,647 in February to 620,359 in March and page views rose from 2,471,713 in February to 4,256,426 in March. “We have has dramatic results in March due to the war in Iraq,” says Bassam Tueni, chief executive of Naharnet.

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.

In a separate development, Arabia Online put out a statement saying that it has closed a new round of funding. The company plans to use the money to expand into e-commerce and web services and says related announcements will be made in the coming months.

The money was raised from existing investors and shareholders, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, although the company didn’t specify how much it has raised. Arabia has also appointed Khalid Juffali as chairman of the board of directors.

Other plans include an increase in headcount at the Dubai office and the opening of a permanent sales and marketing operation in Saudi Arabia. “These are exciting times and with the new plan to diversify into different technologies, the company expects to attain profitability this year,” said Juffali.

Click here to view the Arabian Business Web Index for March 2003"

Please send your feedback and forward your Web site’s results to: david.ingham@itp.net.

||**|||~||~||~|Ranking in category by page views: Web sites are ranked according to the total number of page views reported in the sample period.

URL: Internet address of the Web site.

Site description: Web site owners have submitted their own descriptions. These have been edited by Arabian Business.com due to space constraints.

Site category: Categories have been formed by Arabian Business.com for the purpose of comparing Web sites in a like-with-like environment.

Total number of visits in period: The cummulative total of visits to a site in the specified period. A person visiting more than once in the sample period will be counted every time that person visits. Visitors to a site for a prolonged period, i.e. opens a Web site and leaves that site open on his machine all day, can count as several visitor sessions in that day. Web tracking software can effectively call a visitor session closed if it remains inactive for a predefined period.

Average duration of visitor session in period: The time taken between entering a site and leaving a site.

No. of new visitors in period: A count of visitors who have not at any time been logged by the Web tracking software.

No. of unique visitors per month: Unique visitors are counted using the visitor's IP address, domain name, or cookie.

No. of page impressions in period: A count of hits to pages defined as documents or forms by the Web tracking software. In most, but not all cases, a cick to a new page within a Web site will count as a single additional page impression. The supporting graphics on pages are not counted.

Sample period: The dates during which the log data was generated.

Verified by: Note of whether the visitor data has been checked by Arabian Business.com or whether the site owner has supplied data without independent verification.

Click here to view the Arabian Business Web Index for March 2003" ||**||

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