Yahoo! strengthens its position in the Middle East

Yahoo! has announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Maktoob.com, the leading online community in the Arab world, with more than 16.5 million unique users.

“This acquisition will accelerate Yahoo!’s strategy of expanding in high-growth emerging markets where we believe Yahoo! has unparalleled opportunity to become the destination of choice for consumers,” said Yahoo! chief executive officer Carol Bartz. “Access to information and communications tools can positively impact people’s lives in many ways, and with the acquisition of Maktoob.com and our investment in the region, the Arab world will soon get a Yahoo! experience in Arabic with relevant local language content, programming and services.”

Internet users in the region will benefit from the combination of Yahoo!’s popular products and services with Maktoob’s compelling local content, which today reaches one in three people online throughout the Arab world. This acquisition will extend Yahoo!’s 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. Maktoob.com is accessed by users in countries that include UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

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.

Upon completion of the deal, the remaining Maktoob Group companies – including Souq.com, cashU.com, Araby.com, and Tahadi.com – will operate under a new entity called the Jabbar Internet Group, managed by Samih Toukan. Yahoo! and the Jabbar Internet Group will continue to have a strong commercial relationship going forward, which will include the promotion of Jabbar companies on the Maktoob.com portal.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

See press release here.

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