Yahoo! Maktoob shows rapid growth says Yahoo! CEO

Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! says Middle East is one of the fastest growing markets for Yahoo!

Tags: Arabic contentArabisationEntertainmentMaktoobYahoo! Incorporated
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Yahoo! Maktoob shows rapid growth says Yahoo! CEO Yahoo! Maktoob is looking to deliver on demand for local Arabic language content, says Bartz.
By  Mark Sutton Published  June 7, 2011

Yahoo! Maktoob, the web giant's Middle East and North African operation, has grown by 60% since Yahoo! purchased Maktoob in November 2009, according to Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz.

Speaking to media in Dubai today, Bartz said that Yahoo! Maktoob has doubled its staff from 150 to 300 in the region, and gone from 30 million to 53 million unique users.

The company has also seen strong growth in its Arabic local sites, with Yahoo! Maktoob becoming the third largest Yahoo! home page in the world, behind the US and Taiwan, and its news site becoming the second biggest news destination in the region after Al Jazeera.

Bartz said that she expects a rapid growth in internet usage from the region, and that Yahoo! aims to support that through developing local content, particularly for women and young people.

"We see a huge opportunity for growth in this region. There are more than 300m people in the Middle East and North Africa, 70m online today, and 50m more expected to come [online] in the next 2-3 years, and my guess is its closer to one and a half to two years. I believe, with 50m more coming online, we should get the lion's share of those," Bartz said.

"This is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and Arabic is the fastest growing language on the internet, even though 1% of online content is in Arabic, 5% of the online population speak Arabic. We think that is an opportunity, it is an under-served community," she added.

Yahoo! Maktoob now has offices around the region, along with an R&D centre in Amman, which is responsible for local and global projects, such as an upcoming Ramadan applications featuring video-on-demand, and work on Arabic language interfaces. The company also has a centre of excellence in Cairo, which provides technical and operations support for the whole of the EMEA region.

The company's local presence and tailored content has seen it attract a rapidly growing user base in a short space of time, such as its Helwa women's portal, which gained over one million users from Saudi Arabia in the space of two months, or its local news site which gain extensive traffic during the Egyptian uprising.

"Between January and March, here in the region, more than three million new users came to our news site in Egypt alone," Bartz said. "That shows the power of receiving up to date information, the power of the Internet, the power of Yahoo! to deliver trusted news and information. Those three million people chose us for the local voice, chose us for local expertise and because we could also add international content."

Yahoo! is working on delivering new products for the region, which will include a mobile service that is due to launch on 14th June, more services featuring video, and more content sourced from users such as bloggers in the region.

Rich Riley, senior VP and MD of EMEA region Yahoo! commented: “When we acquired Maktoob, one of the things we knew we had to get right, was to get the best of Maktoob, and its local feel and presence, with the global scale and capabilities of Yahoo!, and the teams have been hard at work at that for some time, and the results I would say have gone very, very well. We couldn’t be more excited about our business here.”

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